Friday, April 8, 2011

The Life Of Riley: "Long Way Home EP" (2009) Review

This EP from Los Angeles band The Life Of Riley features six tracks, including a fun remixed version of "Long Way Home."

Riley Smith, lead singer of The Life Of Riley, has an excellent voice. It's a good rock voice, but also has the emotional range to pull listeners in on the quieter songs. (Though this particular EP doesn't really delve into the band's quieter material.) And it doesn't hurt that Riley surrounds himself with talented musicians.

Long Way Home EP features five original songs, including two that are often performed at The Life Of Riley's live shows.


The EP opens with "Reasons," a rock song with a pop feel to its chorus. Riley has a strong voice, and he finds interesting nuances in this song - places to rise and expand -without showing off. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "You give me reasons to be lonely/Best believe, you're the only one I want/So please don't ask for more."

"Break Me" has a cool bass line by Jon Button, especially during the verses, and nice work by Jonah Dolan on drums. This song also features good backing vocals.

Title Track

"Long Way Home," this EP's title track, is so catchy, particularly the chorus. Plus, it's got a great beat, making it a good song to dance to. This song also features some really good lyrics. Check out these lines: "'Cause where she's at is far from where she wanted to be/And although there's no turning back/There's gotta be a better track/For the good inside this broken soul/Who's chasing the dream." And there's this line: "Once you've tasted life so sweet, it's all you need." In addition to all of that, the backing vocals are also excellent.

A live version of this song can be heard on the band's 2010 release, Live In Hollywood At The Hotel Cafe.

"Don't Say"

"Don't Say" is a catchy pop rock song. Riley sings, "I'm not going nowhere - don't even think about it/Those things you feel - I know you want to shout it/I'm feeling crowded, but never doubt it/All I need is room to breathe." This song was also included on The Life Of Riley's 2010 live album, Live In Hollywood At The Hotel Cafe.


The EP concludes with a remixed version of "Long Way Home," complete with drum machine. And yes, it works as a dance song. Of course, the regular rock version is fun to dance to already, so it wasn't like a lot needed to be changed. This remix stays true to the heart and feel of the original. But the beat is brought more to the foreground. It's actually a really fun remix.

It's not an extended mix, however, as it clocks in at only thirty seconds longer than the original version.

CD Track List

  1. Reasons
  2. Break Me
  3. Long Way Home
  4. I Wait
  5. Don't Say
  6. Long Way Home (DJ Double J Remix)

The Life Of Riley is Riley Smith on vocals; Henri O'Connor on guitar and keyboard; and Jonah Dolan on drums, percussion, keyboards and vocals. Jon Botton plays bass on "Reasons," "Break Me" and "Don't Say." Eric Holden plays bass on "Long Way Home" and "I Wait."

The Life Of Riley is based in Los Angeles. The band has released two full-length albums: The Life Of Riley (2007) and Live In Hollywood At The Hotel Cafe (2010).

The Life Of Riley - Films And Television
The name The Life Of Riley has an interesting history. There have been several films and television programs with that name, and even another band. In 1927, the first film titled The Life Of Riley was released. It was directed by William Beaudine, and starred Charles Murray as Timothy Riley, a fire chief. It also starred George Sidney and June Marlowe.

The second film titled The Life Of Riley was released in 1949, and starred William Bendix as Chester A. Riley, Rosemary DeCamp as Peg Riley and James Gleason as Gillis. This film was based on a radio show of the same name from the 1940s, in which William Bendix also had the title role. The story for the film was written by Groucho Marx. It was directed by Irving Brecher, who was better known as the writer of Shadow Of The Thin Man and Bye Bye Birdie. Brecher also wrote nine episodes of the first television series titled The Life Of Riley.

That first television series, which was based on the 1949 film, starred Jackie Gleason as Chester A. Riley. Rosemary DeCamp reprised her role as Peg Riley. Twenty-six episodes ran from 1949 to 1950.

Interestingly, the second television program by that name was also based on the 1949 film, and this version saw William Bendix back in the title role. Marjorie Reynolds played Peg Riley. This series aired from 1953 to 1958.

There was also a British series titled The Life Of Riley, which aired in 1975 and starred Bill Maynard as Frank Riley. And another film is in production now titled The Life Of Riley.

Living The Life Of Riley

The name itself comes from the phrase, "Living the life of Riley," which suggests an easy life, possibly on someone else's dime. This expression was popular in the 1880s, a time when the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley was also well known.

James Whitcomb Riley was a midwestern poet who was known for writing sentimental and humorous poetry. He worked the lecture circuit, developing an image of a friendly regular rural guy. The expression may have developed because of his poetry and image, or it might have developed even earlier, in Ireland, due to coins called the Reilly's.

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