Iron City Houserockers - Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)
by Kevin Wierzbicki
This Pittsburgh-based band led by Joe Grushecky originally had about an eight-year run beginning in the mid-'70s and this album, their second, has been recognized as one of their best. Originally-released in 1980 and with production work from Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson and Steven Van Zandt, this reissue features a remastered version of the album and a bonus offering of 16 previously-unreleased demo tracks and rarities. For those unfamiliar with this beloved band, their sound is a melodic, hard rocking sort of blue collar rock, with Grushecky's vocal work often recalling other East Coast singers of the era, like Southside Johnny and Willy DeVille. Partying hard (the title cut) and working even harder ("Pumping Iron"), the band reels off tunes here that are relatable to the "average Joe." "Hypnotized" sounds like Some Girls era Rolling Stones, "Angela" is a soulful romp in a Southside Johnny mood while "Old Man Bar" recalls the sound that Bruce Springsteen was mining at the time. The reflective "Rock Ola" closes out the album. Two other versions of "Rock Ola" are found in the bonus material; an extended cut and a demo version that is considerably different, faster and more celebratory than the album version. Demos or alternate takes of seven other album tracks are included, as is a killer interpretation of Lightnin' Slim's "Rooster Blues" and a rowdy take on "Do Wah Diddy," the Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich-penned cut that was a hit for the Exciters and later Manfred Mann.