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Iron City Houserockers

Don't Let Them Push You Around

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Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive)

Love's So Tough, the 1979 debut from the Iron City Houserockers, established the Pittsburgh-bred group on a national level, garnering important recognition, most notably from Greil Marcus. The legendary journalist called the record "one of the least polished first albums I've heard in the past year and one of the best" in his review for Rolling Stone.

Robert Palmer of The New York Times wrote that one of the reasons that the Iron City Houserockers "have drawn so much critical praise is that they're bringing fresh energy to a hallowed and somewhat moribund rock tradition."

The band had created a unique sounding blend of blue collar rock informed by their influences, which included a deep love of Chicago blues, early rock and roll and old school soul, all mixed together with dollops of the then-current sounds of punk and new wave added in.

Their second album, 1980's Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive), found them recording in New York City with an incredible supporting cast. Cleveland International's Steve Popovich and Marty Mooney tapped Mick Ronson (David Bowie) to co-produce the sessions, with additional input coming from Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) and Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny).

Houserockers songwriter and vocalist Joe Grushecky recognized the Iron City Houserockers were entering into a unique situation. "We were a particularly effective concert band at that time," he recalls. "We just wanted to kick your ass and tear the place down. That's the attitude we had. And then you had these guys that joined us who had much more experience recording. They brought a little bit of sophistication to the whole process. You have the English guys and then you had the New Jersey guys and then you had us from Pittsburgh. And on paper, it never should have worked. But somehow it did. Everything just fell into place."

Cleveland International Records is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive) with a newly expanded and remastered reissue available on CD, vinyl (bonus tracks available via a download card) and on all digital streaming outlets. Grushecky worked with his son, Johnny, who also plays guitar in the current version of the band, and sound engineer, Brian Coleman, to compile a second disc with an additional 16 tracks, all previously unreleased. More than an hour's worth of demos and rarities, including alternate takes and in some cases, songs which didn't make the final running order of the original album, add an intriguing chapter to the existing legend of the record.

"We always went into a local studio in Pittsburgh and I would write songs," Grushecky recalls. "Some of the guys would bring in some ideas and we would demo everything. Most of the demos, when we were recording them, we weren't setting out to make a final product. So a lot of this stuff is just first and second takes to see what the song sounded like."

Going through reel-to-reel tapes and even some cassettes that had been in boxes for decades, Grushecky found an abundance of material. "At first, I thought we were just going to include a couple of extra tracks on this reissue," he says. "Then I started finding all of these different things and I started to get excited about it. You know, to some people, I'm sure it would be like a great lost Iron City Houserockers record."

Press Releases

April 15, 2020
IRON CITY HOUSEROCKERS' LOST 'AMERICAN CLASSIC' TO RETURN MAY 22 AS EXPANDED 40TH ANNIVERSARY DELUXE REISSUE FROM CLEVELAND INTERNATIONAL RECORDS

Mick Ronson, Ian Hunter, Steven Van Zandt Lead Original Production Team on Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive), 2nd Album from 'Best Hard Rock Band in the Country,' Led by Pittsburgh Rocker Joe Grushecky

"A masterpiece of hard-bitten Rust Belt rock." - All Music Guide

NASHVILLE (April 15, 2020) - Forty years since a holy trinity of rock and roll royalty united to help oversee the recording sessions for an album hailed by Rolling Stone as "a new American classic," Cleveland International Records is releasing a greatly expanded 40th anniversary deluxe reissue this spring of Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive), the sophomore album from the Iron City Houserockers, the gritty, blue-collar outfit led by beloved Pittsburgh rocker Joe Grushecky.

Mick Ronson (David Bowie), Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) and Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny) combined with co-producers the Slimmer Twins (Steve Popovich Sr. & Marty Mooney) and the Iron City Houserockers to create one of rock's great lost classics. Their cohesive efforts - as producers, arrangers and players - can finally be rediscovered as an entirely new listening experience May 22 when Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) is released by the fabled indie label as a remastered two-CD set that includes a bonus disc with 16 previously unreleased tracks of demos and other rarities. The new vinyl edition will include a download card of those same 16 tracks to go with a vinyl replica of the original album. The album is available for pre-order now at Amazon, iTunes, and www.clevelandinternational.com.

The Iron City Houserockers' 1979 major label debut, Love's So Tough, had thrust the band into the national spotlight, with incredible praise from some of the most revered rock critics of all time, including Greil Marcus ("one of the least polished first albums I've heard in the past year and one of the best" - Rolling Stone), and Robert Palmer ("bringing fresh energy to a hallowed and somewhat moribund rock tradition" - New York Times). The Houserockers were sharing stages with the J. Geils Band, Patti Smith, Meat Loaf and Iggy Pop, to name a few. Everyone from Neil Young to the members of Pink Floyd was coming to see the Iron City Houserockers in concert.

The heat was on to surpass the first album's success and Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) handily delivered. The Iron City Houserockers' willingness to let Ronson, Hunter and Van Zandt reshape their initial ideas in the studio proved prophetic, and the songs they recorded for the 1980 release put down roots that stretched far outside of Pittsburgh. Greil Marcus, this time for The Village Voice, returned to say the album was "the strongest album an American band has made this year" and "proves the Iron City Houserockers are the best hard rock band in the country." Creem declared Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) earns the Iron City Houserockers "a permanent place in the hallowed hall of the immortals." All Music Guide marveled at the new album's power surge, saying the band "landed with the impact of a Louisville slugger connecting with a fastball" and crediting Grushecky for songwriting and lead vocals that "seethe with a furious passion that's never less than convincing. ... The total commitment of his performance, delivered with the conviction of a man fighting for his life, brings these stories to vivid, sweaty life."

Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) is listed as one of the top eight Essential Heartland Rock records alongside the likes of Bob Seger's Night Moves, and John Mellencamp's Scarecrow, and features many of the Houserockers' signature tunes, including "Pumping Iron," "Junior's Bar," and "Have A Good Time." During a 1981 live radio concert in Boston, rabid fans can be heard screaming requests for "Pumping Iron," an anthem Grushecky penned as a tribute to his home city.

Credit for bringing Ronson, Hunter and Van Zandt to the project lands squarely with Popovich, the famed late record industry exec who founded Cleveland International Records in the mid-'70s after an historic run in promotion for Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Santana, Janis Joplin, Chicago, Tony Bennett, Earth Wind & Fire, Taj Mahal, Miles Davis, Mott the Hoople, Boston, Tom Jones and dozens more giants too numerous to list. Cleveland International first rocketed into our collective consciousness with Meat Loaf's epic, multi-platinum global smash Bat Out of Hell. Popvich's son, Steve Jr., relaunched Cleveland International last year.

Popovich Sr. signed the Iron City Houserockers to Cleveland International (after changing their name from the Brick Alley Band) and secured their MCA deal. At Cleveland International, the band created a unique blend of blue-collar rock informed by a deep love of Chicago blues, early rock and roll and old school soul, all mixed together with dollops of punk and new wave. The core group was Grushecky on vocals and guitar, Gil Snyder on piano and vocals, Ned E. Rankin on drums, Art Nardini on bass, Marc Reisman on harmonica and background vocals, and new recruit Eddie Britt on guitar, replacing founding member Gary Scalese following a serious hand injury.

While the debut album essentially documented the band's live show as a studio recording, the second record sought - and achieved - more cohesive high ground. Fueling that pursuit, Grushecky wrote Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) as Pittsburgh's steel industry was "going down the chutes," he says, crushing the local economy and dramatically changing the lives of the population.

"I started really zeroing in on the characters of Pittsburgh, the people who lived in my neighborhoods, the guys who were coming out and seeing us play every night," says Grushecky. "The whole identity of Pittsburgh was changing."

During one particular show, as the audience was becoming a bit too enthusiastic, Grushecky told a fan, "Man, have a good time, but get out alive!" He suddenly realized he had a good song title, which extended to becoming the perfect banner for the album.

Grushecky credits Van Zandt for making him a better writer by encouraging him to make every lyric of every song count and guiding him through that process. "Steve was great with arranging," he says. "He gave invaluable input and ideas to the band."

Ronson and Hunter may have looked like the prototypical rock stars of the day, but Grushecky recalls their personalities belied appearances. "They were salt of the earth guys and they were a team," he says. "You could tell the strong affection they had for each other. It was an honor for me to work with both of them. I'll say that to my dying days. It was just a tremendous experience for me."

As Hunter fondly remembers: "Joe and the Houserockers were and are an actual rock and roll band. So many 'rock and roll' bands are not real - they just look and act like they are - and fool people most of the time. These guys are for real - and what a lovely man Joe is."

In the liner notes, Grushecky offers a remarkably concise analysis of the record that emerged: "We had great songs and the band was smoking," he writes. "We all knew something special was happening. The results were a mixture of Pittsburgh rock and roll, Jersey Shore savvy and soul, and English mystic and muscle. Add a dash of Cleveland moxie and an anything goes attitude and a legendary album was born."

HAVE A GOOD TIME (BUT GET OUT ALIVE) Track Listing:

1. Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive)
2. Don't Let Them Push You Around
3. Pumping Iron
4. Hypnotized
5. Price of Love
6. Angela
7. We're Not Dead Yet
8. Blondie
9. Old Man Bar
10. Junior's Bar
11. Runnin' Scared
12. Rock Ola

BONUS TRACKS (Disc 2):

1. Have A Good Time... But Get Out Alive (demo)
2. Don't Let Them Push You Around (demo)
3. Pumping Iron (demo)
4. Don't Stop the Music (demo)
5. Angela (demo)
6. Price of Love (demo)
7. Hold Out (demo)
8. Rock Ola (demo)
9. Struggle & Die (demo)
10. Rock Ola (extended)
11. Charlena/Blondie
12. Runnin' Scared
13. Runnin' Scared #2
14. Hypnotized (A Work In Progress)
15. Rooster Blues
16. Do Wah Diddy

Genre: Heartland Rock, Blues Rock, Classic Rock

RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, David Bowie, Southside Johnny, J. Geils Band, Mott the Hoople, The Clash, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Ian Hunter, The Del-Lords, John Cafferty

About Cleveland International Records

Cleveland International Records originally launched in 1977 by record mogul and beloved industry executive Steve Popovich. The label's first single release was "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" by Ronnie Spector and The E Street Band. Shortly thereafter, the label signed an unknown singer named Meat Loaf and launched the album, "Bat Out of Hell" en route to becoming one of the top selling albums in the history of the music industry. The label and its catalog combined to make Cleveland International Records one of the first independent record companies whose catalogue has sold in excess of over 50 million albums worldwide. The label relaunched in 2019, with Popovich's son, Steve Jr., at the helm, and a rekindled commitment to bring both new and generational music back to the forefront. More information at www.clevelandinternational.com.

Iron City Houserockers

Randy Alexander

President & CEO
906 Jonathan Lane
Marlton, NJ 08053
856.596.1410