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CD Reviews  The Mike Reilly Band ol' Knuckleheads

The Mike Reilly Band  ~ Ol' Knuckleheads

The cover of the Mike Reilly Band's CD, "Ol Knuckleheads," shows a beautiful full-dressed Harley. If there is still any doubt that this is a Southern Rock band, look at the photo on the backside. The good old boys standing on the lawn of a Southern mansion should dispell any doubt. Put the CD in and the opening riff sounds a little like Credence Clearwater Revival. That's Southern, isn't it? Listen to Mike Reilly's voice for awhile. He sounds a little like Levon Helm, of the Band. Well, that's Southern, but we're beginning to stray from the common perception of how a Southern Rock should sound. Keep listening, because the line really starts to get fuzzy. Track two, "Living on Love," is downright funky. Listen to that horn section, check out that hammond organ, that's as funky as Sly Stone. Next along, "Come back to Haunt You," sounds like it could have been performed by a jazz-fusion band. Confused? Hey, keep in mind when you read this that, despite my descriptions and comparisons, this really is Southern Rock. "Party til the Cows Come Home" talks about partying, country style, but it has a West Coast Swing feel to it. There's that Hammond again, that's Mike Kahrs sounding awesome. Calvin Hardy's bass really shines on this one, as well.

"Queen of Hearts," is a slow, soulfull, citified blues that Bobbie Bland would appreciate. But how do Mike Reilly and Jimmy McGrew's guitars sound like The Allman Brothers on a soultune? Did I say that Mike Reilly sounded like Levon Helm? Listen to "I Forget to Forget You." That sure as hell sounds like Robert Cray. Maybe it's that extra 'pop' that drummer Stu Nevitt adds to make it sound so bluesy. "Nothing but the Blues" is just that; pure blues, right? Wrong, because it still has that Southern Rock flavor, despite its bluesy backbeat. Beautiful guitars, no matter what you call it. "2:10 Train" is reminiscent of Eric Clapton, during his Delaney, Bonnie and Friends era.

I usually try not to draw comparisons when reviewing music, usually just enough to give you, the reader, an idea of how the record sounds. But this album is so filled with different styles, riffs and solos that it's impossible not to draw these comparisons. The big question for me is, just how intentional are these similarities? I recently interviewed a band called the Broke Americans who didn't even recognize half of the bands that I compared them to. Music is inspirational, regardless of the intention, but does it really matter? This is one great album, finely executed by veteran musicians who really know how to make great Southern Rock--even if it does remind me of Carlos Santana at times. I'm sure Mike Reilly would agree with the Broke Americans when they say: "It's all good!"

The Mike Reilly Band, "Ol Knuckleheads" is on Atlas records. You can check them out at their website: http://www.mikereillyband.com.

Review By Pat Benny