Born On Fire is Ike Reilly’s seventh studio album with his band the Ike Reilly Assassination and his first release in over four years. Born On Fire was mostly recorded at IV Lab in Chicago, IL. Reilly’s longtime friend and Assassination guitar player Phil Karnats (Secret Machines, Polyphonic Spree) worked with Reilly and the band on production and the result is a group of rock & roll songs that would be hard to put in a specific era. Reilly said his hope for the record was that it sound like it could have been made “somewhere between 1966 and 2032.”
Songs like “Live Like We’re Dyin’” and “Two Weeks of Work” reflect the influence of John Lee Hooker, Paul Butterfield, and the electric blues scene outta Chicago that influenced Ike and inspired him to start playing blues harp as a young boy. The title track, “Born On Fire,” is an anthem for anybody who has been put down, categorized, criticized, or told by some oppressor that they couldn’t be who they wanted to be or that they couldn’t do the things they wanted to do. It’s not so much a follow-your-dream song as it is a song that says “fuck you” to anybody who tries to bridle or limit passion in somebody else.
The songs on Born On Fire traverse R&B, punk, blues, folk, and rock & roll, with soulful singing provided by The Assassinettes, dirty Farfisa played by Barrel House Chuck, and a horn section led by sax legend Mars Williams. Rage Against The Machine and E Street Band guitarist Tom Morello appears on Born On Fire and rips a searing lead on Reilly’s rock & roll ballad, “Paradise Lane.”
The guest players certainly add color and breadth to Born On Fire, but the real soul of these songs is provided by The Assassination itself. The IRA is: drummer Dave Cottini, bassist Pete Cimbalo, guitarists Phil Karnats, and Tommy O’Donnell and Adam Krier on organ and guitar. The record has a “live” feel that only a band that has been ridden hard could pull off. Born On Fire captures a songwriter at his best, and a band that was nimble enough to serve a diverse group of songs that would require both recklessness and finesse.
David Carr from the New York Times said, “Ike Reilly is a kind of natural resource, mined from the bedrock of music. All the values that make rock important to people—storytelling, melody, rage, laughter—are part and parcel of every Ike Reilly show I have ever seen. One of the best touring acts in the country, Reilly's band takes it as a personal challenge to upend and amaze every room they play in.”
Why the long delay between albums? Well, the unfortunate loss of 15 complete Reilly recordings was certainly a setback, and an ill-fated television series featuring Ike for the AMC Network kept the band out of the studio far longer than expected. Not really common reasons for release delays but not much is really common for the former doorman and gravedigger.
The Ike Reilly Assassination is:
Phil Karnats, Dave Cottini, Pete Cimbalo, Ed Tinley, Tommy O'Donnell and Adam Krier
"Ike Reilly's Born on Fire. In my view, he's one of the best American songwriters of the last 10 years, both in delivery and lyrics. It's, like, part Springsteen, part Replacements. And we grew up in the same hometown, Libertyville, Illinois, where Adam Jones of Tool and Marlon Brando came from as well [laughs]. There must be something in the water there, for a suburb known principally for its Buick dealership." - Tom Morello / Rolling Stone
Esquire Magazine's Best Songs of June 2015:
Ike Reilly, "Born on Fire"
SOUNDS LIKE: Todd Snider practicing The Secret.
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is the letter every son yearns for his father to write for him. Not unrelated: If only somebody did a Kickstarter for a literary companion, The Quotable Ike Reilly, we'd be in at the highest reward level.
"The Ike Reilly Assassination is oft compared with old school outfits like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and even Dylan, but those are your dad’s bands, and Ike frankly blows their current manifestations out of the water. If you found that too hard to swallow, then I challenge you to a Rock Off. Play a recent release from those guys, followed by BORN ON FIRE, and see which seems the most kick-ass." read more
- Blurt Magazine (5 stars)
"To say this is exciting, unpredictable, idiosyncratic American rock and roll is not to do it justice. Established cult Reilly fans might know what to expect, but even they will be thrilled with the sheer dynamic gusto and rollicking groove he unleashes. It’s pure, unaffected and raw, adjectives that have always described Reilly and result in this explosive album, the culmination of his extensive years in the trenches." read more
- American Songwriter (4 out of 5 stars)
"Born on Fire is an eleven track ode to a time when rock and roll was rock and roll. Actually, not “time,” but “times.” Ike Reilly has crafted an album that weaves in and out of the great epochs of rock, seamlessly weaves, I should add. And, while doing so, Born on Fire resists the urge to transcend 2015 in an “our music was better than your music” obnoxious lecturing way; Reilly manages to ground his music in the here and now – there’s a healthy bit of rustbelt gritty, grimy, realistic outlook on life to go with the grins." read more
- No Depression
“He sounds like a slacker, but there’s a hidden ambition in Reilly’s bohemian bar-room poetry. He’s trying to wrap his arms around the whole damn thing: hope, anger, love, death, dissolution, sex; mundanity and transcendence, dreams and defeat...Reilly’s most recent influences are older than I am, and I’m closer to 30 than 20. But Christ, who cares? It all sounds really good. The songs are catchy as hell, and the lyrics are dark and funny, big-hearted and well observed, sad and sweet. That ought to be enough.”
“...visceral, outlandishly catchy tune capture a certain kind of cockiness and bar clown wit...Mr. Reilly and his band tear it up live” - New York Times
“...whipsmart lyrics, prankster attitude, Beckish beats, barbed wire guitars, and a literate sense of melancholy...His words, like his personae, shift, bob, weave, from sage to fool to jester to street corner prophet.” - Boston Phoenix
“People that inhabit the solid rock songs on this album (Junkie Faithful) don’t beat the odds or discover the meaning of life. They take drugs, treat their girlfriends like crap, shrug, and move on. Y’know, like regular people - Maxim (four out of five stars)