Music News

The Ike Reilly Assassination

If anyone knows the evils of the music business firsthand, it's Ike Reilly. A dark-humored singer-songwriter originally from Libertyville, Illinois, he spent the better part of a decade kicking around the Midwest in groups that were never able to translate their local fan base into widespread popularity. He had set dreams of a music career aside in favor of jobs that actually paid a living wage, like a gig as a hotel doorman, when Dust Brother Mike Simpson flipped for one of his demos and helped him line up a deal with Republic, a division of Universal. Reilly's debut for the imprint, 2001's Salesmen and Racists, generated loads of critical ballyhoo but crummy sales, and since major-label execs value profits over acclaim, they soon dropped his contract. Fortunately, he's resurfaced on an indie, Rock Ridge Music -- and Sparkle in the Finish, a new CD due in stores next month, shows that his talent has survived his latest professional setback. The disc is a musically straightforward but lyrically twisted look at the life of Reilly that's typified by "Holiday in New York," a tune featuring the telling passage "I'm pretty sure you won't ever want to sleep with me again/'Cause you need more and more and more and more/And I can't get you all." If he's back in a band and still can't get laid, the music business really is evil.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts