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Articles Home » 2006 Articles » Iris, Donnie (And The Cruisers) - 2006 Ellwood City
Iris, Donnie (And The Cruisers) - 2006 Ellwood City

ARTIST: Iris, Donnie
ALBUM: Ellwood City
LABEL: Primary Records
YEAR: 2006
SPONSOR: Donnie Iris Mgmt


LINEUP: Donnie Iris - vocals, guitars * Mark Avsec - keyboards * Marty Lee - guitars * Paul Goll - bass * Kevin Valentine - drums * Brice Foster - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Little Black Dress * 02 Soul Man * 03 Let's Go * 04 Rivers Of Love * 05 Just Go Tango * 06 Rocque Fantastique * 07 Ellwood City * 08 Love Me With The Light On * 09 No Rest For The Wicked * 10 Love Messiah * 11 You Got My Body (You Don't Have My Soul) * 12 Tuesday Morning * 13 Just Go Tango * 14 With This Ring



It's impossible to keep old rockers down and Donnie Iris and co are back for their first album in nine years, reputedly a 'major' return to form. Anyone expecting another 'King Cool' AOR extravaganza will come away disappointed, but that's usually par for the course these days. To their credit The Cruisers have retained the trademark harmonies and dynamic melodic approach, naturally in an updated form befitting the year we live in. Most of the usual crew are on hand, and honestly that has been one of the bands main assets over the last quarter of a century, with the type of lineup stability few bands could hope for. The band spent a long period working on this album and at fourteen tracks there's a lot to digest and admittedly it didn't all click on initial listens, as with 1997's 'Pole Town' there is a variety of styles on display, some quirky tracks, some straight forward hard rock, but all identifiably The Cruisers.

The Songs
Sensibly a rocker kicks things off, 'Little Black Book' among the heaviest tracks of the bands career, with a reliance on riffing rather than the much missed keyboards that the band utilised so heavily once. All the massive harmonies are intact, the chorus sticks instantly, a promising beginning. One of the highlights is 'No Rest For The Wicked' an 80's throwback in every sense, synthesizer and melody wise, an an easy fit for any of The Cruisers classic catalogue from 1980 to 85. This sadly is a rarity among the album as a whole. The title track is a worthy ballad, reflective and gentle, but not going anywhere in particular melody wise unfortunately. A cover of Sam And Dave's 'Soul Man' seems unnecessary in the overall scheme, and followed by a slice of modern rock in 'Let's Go', the band is throwing every direction in they can muster. 'Just Go Tango' sees Iris at his vocal best, although this is too melancholic for the Cruisers, with a symphonic backing that overshadows the guitar work. 'Love Me With The Lights On' is older styled to an extent, but lacking the relevance of essential Donnie Iris, there aren't any passages with melodic punch to refer to of note. Moving to the pop end of things is 'Love Messiah', with its organ dominated atmosphere, while at the other end 'Rocque Fantastique' is funky to the end, with the best harmonies of the album, vintage Cruisers! It's hard to get past the reserved likes of 'Let's Go', annoyingly light and not what you want from this great band through the course of an entire album almost.

In Summary
This is nothing like the Donnie Iris of old, but for 2006 it's not shabby either. With such a mammoth AOR back catalogue it's natural to pine for material geared to that era when The Cruisers were in their prime, but let's face it, those days are long gone and like others they have just adapted to the current time and place. The main drawback is the lack of harder edged tunes replaced by some barren, introspective modern rock tracks that tend to overshadow the bands natural tendencies to a degree. This shouldn't deter longtime fans from avoiding 'Ellwood City', Iris' distinctive vocals maintain the identity easily, so maybe I'm over analysing the whole affair! One for the dedicated fan that through persistence will find much to savour.

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#1 | 398 on June 13 2006 17:46:33
The CD is currently available for purchase online at

Also, the entire CD is being streamed at so stop on over and have a listen for yourself.
#2 | 399 on June 13 2006 18:29:39
Whereas Mr. Thomas tries to connect with 'King Cool', he fails to mention the production valve alone on this fine work by Mr. Avsec. But at least he acknowledges that more than 'one' listen may be required, as with 'Poletown'. The title cut is also harshly criticized, as are a few of the other cuts. There is a great deal of wonderful variety on this recording, but to see the band in concert is to make one a true believer in 'Donnie Iris And The Cruisers'
Biker0654 (Louisville)
#3 | 400 on June 13 2006 19:18:51
Mr. Thomas you really should have listened to this album more than once before reviewing it. How dare you suggest that DI&C aren't in their prime anymore. Have you seen them live in concert recently? If not maybe you should...come to Pittsburgh, the land of the DI&C faithful. See how much energy and passion this band has. That energy and passion has come through on the songs from Ellwood City. I'm sorry you just don't GET IT. CoolCool
#4 | gdazegod on June 13 2006 19:54:44
What the hey? Have we got a couple of DI Groupies here or what? Just chill people, it is only an opinion. Everyone has them, they don't have to be the same as yours. GAFL!
#5 | 398 on June 13 2006 20:31:08
Thanks for the review! Any chance you guys will do official reviews of 'King Cool' and 'Back On The Streets'... two classic albums.
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