Forty years ago, Joe Grushecky and his band Iron City Houserockers released their landmark album Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! The record, which saw equally famed musician Steven Van Zandt offer his talents to its presentation, spawned five singles. Van Zandt produced and performed on some of those songs, too. It even garnered some attention from Billboard magazine in its release. In the now four decades since its release, the record has been re-issued at least three times, once in 1999 again in 2000 and once more in 2013. Now it will receive the re-issue treatment again Friday through Cleveland International Records. The album’s re-issue Friday is a digital release, while its physical release date is scheduled for June 19. Cleveland International Records’ forthcoming re-issue of Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! Is the best of the album’s releases to date in part because of its bonus content. That item will be addressed shortly. The songs’ overall content is not to be ignored here either, considering the importance of the bonus content. It will be addressed a little later. The record’s dual release date is of its own importance, and will also be addressed later. All three items noted here are important in their own right to the whole of this re-issue. All things considered, they make the record a presentation that will appeal to the band’s longtime fans and to those who appreciate classic rock.
Cleveland International Records’ forthcoming re-issue of Iron City Houserockers’ sophomore album Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! Is an interesting addition to this year’s field of album re-issues. It is a presentation that the band’s established fan base will appreciate just as much as classic rock fans in general. That is due in part to the bonus content featured with what is at least the fourth re-issue of what Rolling Stone magazine has called an “American classic.” The bonus material in question is a second CD featured with the original album that is composed of 16 songs. The majority of the songs featured on the bonus disc (eight in all) are demos of the final products featured on the original album that was released in 1980. Four others are alternate takes of songs that also ended up in the final product. The other two songs – ‘Rooster Blues’ and ‘Do Wah Diddy’ – are covers. These extras are not featured with any of the album’s previous re-issues. Considering that this is the case and that the album has been released at least three previous times since the album’s release four decades ago, this actually is a positive addition to this presentation. It is music that, as far as this critic knows, has not been previously been made available to audiences. The demos and alternate takes are an exhibition of how the album’s songs came to be in their final forms, so this bonus content really fleshes out the album even more and completes it while the bonus covers are just that proverbial cherry on the top.
It should also be noted that in looking at the bonus content, some of the demos that are featured on that bonus disc are not included in the final release of this LP and vice versa. Case in point are the songs ‘Hold On’ and ‘Struggle & Die.’ Both songs are demos, but didn’t make the album’s final cut. ‘Don’t Stop The Music,’ another of the bonus demos featured in this re-issue also did not make the album’s final cut, so once more, audiences get to hear another extra that was recorded, but not previously featured. It’s essentially the musical counterpart to a deleted scene from a movie or television program. In the same vein, ‘We’re Not Dead Yet,’ ‘Junior’s Bar’ and ‘Old Man Bar’ are not among the demos and alternate takes featured in the record’s bonus disc, so that adds even more value to the overall presentation. Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus disc that is featured with this latest re-issue of Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! forms a solid foundation for the record’s presentation. It is just one of the elements that makes the album’s latest re-issue worth experiencing. Taking a deeper look at the songs, both the demos/alternate takes and the final product, that overall content is just as important to address as the addition of that content to the record.
It goes without saying that whether one prefers the demos/alternate takes to the final product, everyone will agree that the songs are enjoyable in terms of their musical and lyrical content. The semi-punk approach of the album’s title track/opener and its companion lyrical content, which encourages people to make the most of their lives, is just one example of the importance of the songs’ content to this presentation. The song’s demo is pretty much the same as the final product, but is just less polished in its sound. To that end, both versions are equally enjoyable. ‘Hypnotized,’ which comes early in the album’s 12-song body, is another example of the importance of the songs’ content. This song is a stark contrast to the album’s opener in terms of its musical and lyrical content. This song is more of a blues-based work, complete with harmonica, that will appeal to fans of ZZ Top. Its lyrical content comes across as focusing on a person who is…well…hypnotized by a romantic interest. It’s a familiar topic, just in its own unique presentation. The song’s alternate take featured in the record’s bonus disc is much more stripped down, and also gives audiences a glimpse into the song’s creation, so to speak, as listeners get to hear discussions taking place while the original work is being crafted. The organic sense exhibited through the “work in progress” is enjoyable in its own right, and just as much so as the final product. ‘Runnin’ Scared’ is yet another example of the importance of the content of the album’s songs. Listeners will note in comparing the final product to its two alternate takes featured in the record’s bonus disc, the differences are there, but the two alternate takes are really one bigger exhibition of the evolution of that song. Collectively, they do just as much to show the engagement and enjoyment ensured by this reissue’s content as the other noted songs and the rest of the featured material. All things considered, the content featured on the record’s main and bonus content comes together to make the presentation in whole just as worth hearing for that reason as for the record’s very presentation. It’s just one more way in which this latest reissue of Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! proves its value. The dual release date for the record actually plays its own pivotal part in its presentation.
The digital release date for Iron City Houserockers’ new re-issue is set for Friday while the re-issue’s physical release date is set for June 19. For critics, it’s tough, because we have to determine from the labels which date they prefer reviews to run. There are actually legal ramifications involving when reviews can run with some record labels. For audiences however, that dual availability actually proves valuable. It proves valuable in a situation such as what is going on around the world now. Physical release dates for albums, EPs and singles keep getting pushed back and even forward as a result of everything happening. That’s because of the closure of plants that produce the CDs and vinyls for fans of physical media. The digital release on the other hand, offers slightly more consistency for audiences. Digital releases are not constrained by concerns that would alter physical release dates. That means audiences can still download albums, EPs and singles, and put them to blank CDs (where CDs are available) ahead of the physical release of said products. So in doing so, audiences do not have to wait and wonder when the physical releases will be available. Simply put, the dual release date allows those who do not want to deal with the uncertainty raised by physical constraints to have to wait. It allows those people to have that option of owning the album early. In a situation such as what’s going on globally now, that proves invaluable. It will never replace the physical object, but definitely proves valuable. Keeping this in mind, the dual release date for the album proves just as important to its presentation as the album’s content and general presentation. All things considered, they make the new re-issue of Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! a rare re-issue worth owning whether one is a fan of Iron City Houserockers or a classic rock fan in general.
Iron City Houserockers’ forthcoming re-issue of its 1980 album Have A Good Time But…Get Out Alive! is a surprisingly positive offering from the band. It is a record whose appeal is far-reaching, as proven in part through its general presentation. This release marks the first time that it has been re-issued with a full disc of bonus content. That aspect alone makes the record appealing in its own right. The content featured between the two discs gives audiences a full, rich picture of how the final product came to being. The album’s availability digitally and physically helps in the current scenario in that it eliminates the uncertainty of release date changes impacted by everything going on around the world. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the latest re-issue of the album a work that listeners will “have a good time” taking in. More information on the record is available online along with all of the group’s latest news at:
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