Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Iron City Houserockers

  • Love's So Tough [MCA, 1979] B
  • Have a Good Time (but Get Out Alive) [MCA, 1980] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Love's So Tough [MCA, 1979]
"Turn It Up" is one of those self-transcending cliches--a song about rock and roll escape that reveals how the truism became one. Most of the others are honorable cliches--working-class angst played for tragedy rather than irony or analysis in the great tradition of B. Springsteen. Or is it T. Lizzy? B

Have a Good Time (but Get Out Alive) [MCA, 1980]
Although Springsteen has his imitators--take a bow and pose for the trades, Johnny Cougar--you'd expect there'd be more. Maybe would-be up-and-comers have figured out that his sales don't match his status, or maybe integrity on that scale seems too much like work. Integrity doesn't scare Joe Grushecky, or work either, but the scale escapes him--he's less a competitor than a slightly self-conscious soul brother, shorter on talent and longer on roots. His best songs are about bars. His most revealing song is an honest if off-kilter disco-sucks anthem--called "Blondie," it's about how he and Angela can't get in where they're playing her song any more, as if this is somehow her fault, and as if they're not still playing her song in places he can get in. B-