Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Donnie Iris - Fortune 410

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Fortune 410, the fourth studio album from Donnie Iris and the Cruisers (Mark Avsec, Marty Lee Hoenes, Albritton McClain and Kevin Valentine). Following 1982’s The High and the Mighty (click here for that review), this one from 1983 went to number 127 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Side one opens with “Human Evolution”, a look at dating through out history. Immediately, Valentine’s tribal drumbeat pulls me right in.

“Stagedoor Johnny” tells the tale of a wannabe musician who gets his chance to prove himself on stage one evening at a nightclub.

“Cry If You Want To” has a dramatic, sweeping opening that sets the stage for this story of lovers separated by miles and circumstance. Iris takes the guitar solo near the end.

“Tell Me What You Want” features a heavy guitar grind, quirky synths and a new-wave-like lead vocal delivery. Rick Bell and Dan McCarthy provided the saxophone and trumpet respectively.

“I Belong” puts a voice to the socially awkward outsider while the music includes cascading synths and steady electronic drum beats. It was released as the B-side to the single.

Side two starts with “She’s So European”, an up-tempo tune about a woman who makes up a complete, exotic personal history to impress others. I remember hearing this one on the radio a good bit in 1983, despite the fact that it was not a single. Personally, I think it would have done great on the charts.

“I’m a User” makes a commentary on the shift of manual labor to a more information, computer based industry. This one is kind of interesting in that it reflect a view of the early days of the digital age; this was recorded around the time that I was just getting heavy into computers myself (having two years of programming in high school in 1981 to 1983). I wonder if even Iris could have predicted then how far we would shift in the next thirty years into today’s everyday immersion of computer usage.

I like the bouncy and irregular rhythm of “Never Did I”; it keeps the listener on the edge and following carefully.

Things slow down slightly with “Somebody”, a song about growing up and seeking someone who will love them. It has a universal theme that I think everyone can relate to at some point in their life.

The final track posed the question “Do You Compute?” which was released as a single; it went to number 64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 20 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. It is all about trying to connect to someone, to make them understand what you are trying to tell them.

Fortune 410 is another lost 80’s nugget of music; it was only released on vinyl and cassette to date. And that is a real shame as Donnie Iris and the band have crafted some good rock songs here. I was glad to be able to find most of them via online sources to listen to for this album review. Here’s hoping they get released digitally in the future.

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