It’s true. Once upon a time, during the weird transition that occurred in the music bubble of the late 80’s, early 90’s, Mark Knight was the guitarist and major songwriting force behind Bang Tango’s hits “Someone Like You” and “Breaking Up a Heart of Stone,” – maybe even “Midnight Struck,” depending on how much of a diehard fan you were, but this ain’t your mama’s Bang Tango, nor does Knight desire it to be so.
“Road Sick Eyes” by Mark Knight and The Unsung Heroes may be the definitive work – but say it ain’t so – of Knight’s long and prolific solo career in which Knight drives the point home more than ever that he left the funk metal riffs of Bang Tango long behind in favor of straight up rock and roll with hints of the south and the kind of blues you only know if you’ve been there yourself.
Surrounding himself with The Unsung Heroes, a band of brothers talented and accomplished in their own right, Knight has created what seemed to be almost impossible in the current climate of music today: songs that make you feel, songs that you find yourself in, songs that mirror the feelings we all have when we wake up in the morning with heavy hearts, and lay down at night with broken dreams, and the smoldering desire to live better, more fulfilling lives in the crushing face of the daily grind. We all have way too many candles on our cakes.
These songs are raw, the characters are us, the missed opportunities are ours and the blood stained dresses litter our own floors and hotel rooms. And that’s his gift, as Knight writes about the folks he’s met out on the road, and most tellingly, himself. The mark of a true songwriter is the ability to take your own successes, your own failures, your own dreams, put them out into the world and hear the collective, “Hell, yeah” and heavy sighs from the listeners as they slowly slam their car doors shut and head off to the job that pays the bills, but steals the soul. You’re inherently and acutely aware that Knight sings of what he knows.
Rockin’, hard driving songs like “Sink Your Teeth Into,” “Slow Down” and “Lies,” full of intricate guitar work and palpable angst, and the more mournful, soulful “Slow Your Pace” and “Wrong Direction” patchwork themselves into a collective, a true rock and roll record. For the hardcore Mark Knight fans, “Monkey Boy,” a bluesier, almost more anguished reinvention of a previously released track is like a little inside joke among the more sedate themes of the overall composition.
At the record’s core, the title track, “Road Sick Eyes,” encapsulates the message of the album in a haunting, yet searing look inside the more often than not lonely life on the road, the characters you encounter along the way and the spark that still burns, though sometimes dimly, inside you. It’s the ultimate conflict that we all feel between what you’ve got to do and what you want to do.