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The Ike Reilly Assassination
Sparkle in the Finish
Rock Ridge Music

I've been sitting on this one awhile, and I'd say it was a good thing I did. I loved Ike Reilly's debut album Salesmen and Racists, but the first few go-arounds of Sparkle in the Finish had me thinking that this album was a bunch of b-sides to the all-a debut of Salesmen. I was all prepared to write about how Ike still had the songwriter's gift, and as sophomore slumps go, this was still a solid and worthy effort, but that it didn't quite measure up to expectation.

But, funny things happen when you allow yourself to dig below the surface of an album. I finally figured out what was really up with this CD, and I've equated it to this: If Salesmen and Racists was the glitzy, tricked out Crown Victoria that Ike so dearly loved, then Sparkle in the Finish is a portrait of that same vehicle sitting in a salvage yard. The appeal of SaR was its self-deprecating, smart-assed, foul-mouthed sense of humor, a satire of a suburban-white-boy-hip-hopster who was entranced with the materialistic, playboy lifestyle, even though he was clearly a pathetic poser underneath the veneer. Sparkle in the Finish is a comparatively morose depiction of the party, post-mortem.

Sparkle in the Finish has gone a few shades darker than the freewheeling image of Bob Dylan singing songs written by Lenny Bruce that typified Reilly's debut. If we assume that Ike portrays a singular narrator of both albums, then this second offering reveals a more somber and grim storyteller. The former's braggadocio has been stripped away and ground into dust by the crushing life-debt accumulated by the boozy, coke-head philandering of himself and his friends as detailed in Salesmen. The narrator has matured and is no longer fooled by the alluring draw of a high-octane lifestyle. The partiers, players, and gangsters of the first album are the dropouts, burnouts and addicts of the latter. Time and attrition have wrought a new perspective and a maturation of Reilly's tone that is considerably more serious, introspective and philosophical, but no less significant than it was before. If there is a slump to the sophomore, it is in the resignatory droop in his shoulders; the album however, is another success from the most genuinely gritty and keen-witted folk-pop-rock artist working today.

P.S. It's a goddamn shame that his first album had such weak sales as it was a true masterpiece from start to finish. "Original" is such a weak word; one that gets hurled at me by every press release I've ever laid eyes on. So, I won't call Ike "original." You can directly spot the influences in his music, but he's the only one remotely close to doing things the way he does. If nothing else, he remains unique.


Track Listing:

1. I Don't Want What You Got (Goin On)
2. Holiday in NY
3. It's Alright to Die
4. Whatever Happened to the Girl in Me?
5. Boat Song, The (We're Getting Loaded)
6. Garbage Day
7. Our Lady of Arturo
8. Ballad of the Choir Boy Band Robber
9. Waitin' For Daddy
10. St. Joe's Band
11. Ex-Americans, The

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