“I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.”
- Admiral James T. Kirk, 2285

The life of a musician has always been coupled with a great degree of ignominy. Save for a short period between the dawn of the recording age in the early 20th Century and the collapse of the physical sales model at the beginning of the 21st, musicians largely subsisted in their classic spheres - on street corners, or as accompaniment to royalty, religious gatherings, or military ceremonies. And even within that aforementioned legendary period, only a select coterie found gold records lining their walls; the stories of musicians left destitute by bad management and nefarious contracts are numerous.

That being said - a fish must swim, a bird must fly, and a musician must perform. Thus, many hardworking, determined individuals are still pushing the boundaries of their time (and their sanity) even today, continuing with their art in an age where music is a zero-sum game. As industry expert Bob Lefsetz frequently speaks to in his Lefsetz Letter e-mails, the modern music industry is a microcosm mirror of the world’s economy at large; you’re either the 1%, or you’re struggling to get by.

It is within this inhospitable environment that Kurt Riley has survived for over a decade. “Failure of Imagination is my witty riposte to detractors,” he notes.

Failure of Imagination was not only a statement of defiance during a difficult time, but the debut of Riley’s final band lineup during his first chapter, featuring the magnificent Sesu Coleman on drums and percussion. A legend from the NYC glam and proto-punk scene of the 1970s and 1980s, Coleman helped form The Magic Tramps, which featured Warhol star Eric Emerson on vocals. Performing at legendary venues such as Max’s Kansas City, CBGBs, and The Mercer Arts Center, Coleman has shared stages with The New York Dolls and Billy Idol, and toured with Suicide’s Alan Vega in support of his solo records Collision Drive and Saturn Strip, which Coleman also performed on.


Composition, arrangement, lead/backing vocals, acoustic/electric guitars: Kurt Riley
Bass guitar: Rick Kline
Synthesizer/percussion: Charlie Jones
Drums/djembe/bongos: Sesu Coleman
Mixing/engineering/mastering: Kurt Riley
Videography: JKnaperek Productions
Video Editing: Kurt Riley
Graphic Design/Cover Artwork: Kurt Riley