Iron City Houserockers – Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive) (1980)

The Iron City Houserockers were an American rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, led by singer/guitarist Joe Grushecky, that existed from 1976 until 1984.

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Started in 1976 as the Brick Alley Band by Grushecky, a high school special education teacher in Pittsburgh, the band was a fairly typical bar band. The band was distinguished by Grushecky’s taut, focused songs about life in the open hearth and a distinctive, harmonica-and-guitar driven sound owing much to the Rolling Stones and the J. Geils Band, but which also seemed to borrow a lot of the thrashing fury of punk rock. Most of the members of the Iron City Houserockers came from a genuine blue collar background: Art Nardini was the son of a mechanic and a part-time college student, Joe Grushecky was a coal miner’s son, and Gil Snyder’s father was a construction worker. In 1977 they signed to Cleveland International Records, headed by former Epic Records A&R chief and Pittsburgh native Steve Popovich. Popovich christened them the Iron City Houserockers, but this caused some problems when touring outside their native Pittsburgh — when they played Cleveland their tires were slashed. The band’s debut album Love’s So Tough was released in April 1979. With dense, no-frills production by Popovich and Marty Mooney, AKA the Slimmer Twins, the album successfully captured the band’s live sound. “Hideaway” (the first single) and “Dance With Me” were viewed as standout cuts.

The band’s follow-up album Have a Good Time but Get out Alive! was featured by Rolling Stone magazine as its showcase review with the headline “New American Classic” and The Village Voice called it “the strongest album an American band has made this year.” The tandem tavern-set tracks “Old Man Bar” and “Junior’s Bar” were especially praised. Production was credited to the Slimmer Twins and Mick Ronson, with arrangements by Ian Hunter and Steven Van Zandt.

Among the strongest tracks are the title track, “Don’t Let Them Push You Around”, “We’re Not Dead Yet”, the two-part medley of “Old Man Bar” and Junior’s Bar” and “Rock Ola”, Grushecky’s first truly competent ballad. According to the liner notes, E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt produced and arranged five songs (“Junior’s Bar”, “Angela”, “Running Scared”, “Blondie”, and “Don’t Let Them Push You Around”) and played lead guitar on “Junior’s Bar” before leaving due to creative differences with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson.

 

Tracklist

1.   “Have a Good Time (But Get out Alive)”  (Joe Grushecky)  – 3:49
2.   “Don’t Let Them Push You Around”  (Grushecky)  – 2:23
3.   “Pumping Iron”  (Grushecky)  – 3:54
4.   “Hypnotized”  (Grushecky, Gil Snyder)  – 3:20
5.   “Price of Love”  (Grushecky, Snyder)  – 4:04
6.   “Angela”  (Joe Grushecky)  – 3:17
7.   “We’re Not Dead Yet”  (Dan Beck, Grushecky, Snyder)  – 3:01
8.   “Blondie”  (Grushecky)  – 2:44
9.   “Old Man Bar”  (Bob Boyer, Eddie Britt, Snyder)  – 3:14
10. “Junior’s Bar”  (Britt, Grushecky, Snyder)  – 4:17
11. “Runnin’ Scared”  (Grushecky, Art Nardini, Snyder)  – 3:49
12. “Rock Ola”  (Grushecky)  – 2:52

Personnel

Notes

Released:  June 6, 1980
Recorded:  Media Sound, New York City 1980
Genre: Rock, Bar Band, Heartland Rock
Style:  Pop Rock
Length: 40:44

Label – MCA Records

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