Before the Hold Steady made indie-rock fans drool with witty lyrics and dirty garage rock, Ike Reilly put out "Salesmen & Racists" in 2001.
A longtime resident of a smaller town in Illinois, just outside of Chicago, Reilly had been in a few underground local bands in the ’80s and ’90s, but retired from music and started working odd jobs by the middle of last decade.
Thank goodness, though, a demo tape ended up in the right hands and an offshoot of Universal put out "Salesmen & Racists."
Long out of print but available used and cheap on Amazon and other e-tailers, the record is chock full of thick chords and Dylan/Springsteen-esque prose. Reilly’s unique and gritty voice carry these tunes, especially standouts like "Last Time," "Hip Hop Thighs #17" and "Put A Little Love In It."
Blending punk, rock, indie and hip hop, Reilly came a little before his time. If released today — after the onslaught of garage bands and harder music becoming cool again with indie fans — "Salesmen & Racists" would be a much bigger hit, not a disc unavailable after only five years.
Reilly’s still making music, though, so maybe he’ll breakout. But, he doesn't have a radio face and, so far, the singer/songwriter’s never come close to equaling the brilliance of this disc.