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Hear The Bang: The Life And Times Of Denny Lile

Denny Lile

Big Legal Mess 2015

Review by David Bowling


Tens-of-thousands of artists and bands have produced music during the last half-century and quickly disappeared.  A small percentage actually recorded some music with little or no commercial success. Most of the music deserved to be forgotten but every once in awhile there was a gem that was lost to history, which brings us to Denny Lile.

Lile was a singer/songwriter/guitarist who succumbed to the effects of alcoholism in 1995 at the age of 44. He spent most of his life playing in the Midwest, where playing in bands and solo, he developed a large following. He was one of those artists who never quite made it to the big time and since his death has faded from memory.

The Big Legal Mess label has a reputation for resurrecting the memories and music of forgotten artists. Now Denny Lile joins their lineup with the re-release of his first LP and an accompanying documentary DVD.

He put together a personal and mature album that belied his age. “Hear The Bang” is a poignant track that looked toward the future. He travels a different musical road with the country rocker “Looks Like The Feeling’s Slowly Fading.”

He had a number of Midwest sensibilities that connected him to its land and culture. “Love Is On A Freight Train,” “Meet Me By The River,” “”If You Stay On Solid Ground,” and “She’s More Than Just A Friend” travel through that culture of trains, waterways, love, and clothes via his wonderful lyrical imagery. There are a few love songs added that provide a balance to the album. “Rag Muffin” and perhaps the album’s best track, the sonic “Oh Darlin'” tap into his sensitive side.

The documentary was assembled by his nephew Jer, and includes interviews with friends, bandmates, business partners, his ex-wife, and daughter. There are numerous still photos interspersed throughout. He does a good job examining Lile’s psyche and piecing together his life.

Today Denny Lile is a forgotten footnote in music history. His legacy is one gleaming album of music recorded over four decades ago.

Rating: ***1/2