13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bruce Springsteen has always worked as an artist. Joe Grushecky, who once led Pittsburgh’s Iron City Houserockers, has spent much of the last twenty years as a special education teacher. They’ve worked together and are a natural fit. Both are obsessed with understanding the lives of working people and both sing with sandpaper growls. Springsteen guests on three cuts here, battling for the mike on the thrilling opener “Code of Silence” and settling further in the background for “Is She the One” and the title track, where Grushecky lays it out: “Just because they sign my check/ that don’t mean they own my soul.” The album is filled with these simple, sturdy observations, backed with the same utilitarian rock that Grushecky’s always favored: tough lead guitars, a driving rhythm section and no time for frills. But his best moments may be his most reflective. The ballad “Beauty Fades” allows him to soften his rasp and plays out like a classic soul ballad telling a working class tale with a minimum of fuss. Grushecky gets older, he matures, but he never grows up.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bruce Springsteen has always worked as an artist. Joe Grushecky, who once led Pittsburgh’s Iron City Houserockers, has spent much of the last twenty years as a special education teacher. They’ve worked together and are a natural fit. Both are obsessed with understanding the lives of working people and both sing with sandpaper growls. Springsteen guests on three cuts here, battling for the mike on the thrilling opener “Code of Silence” and settling further in the background for “Is She the One” and the title track, where Grushecky lays it out: “Just because they sign my check/ that don’t mean they own my soul.” The album is filled with these simple, sturdy observations, backed with the same utilitarian rock that Grushecky’s always favored: tough lead guitars, a driving rhythm section and no time for frills. But his best moments may be his most reflective. The ballad “Beauty Fades” allows him to soften his rasp and plays out like a classic soul ballad telling a working class tale with a minimum of fuss. Grushecky gets older, he matures, but he never grows up.

TITLE TIME
4:10
2:56
4:36
3:51
3:25
2:57
5:24
4:12
4:04
5:04
5:31
9:35
4:37

About Joe Grushecky

Much like Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band or Southside Johnny & the Asbury Dukes, Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers have been making American blue-collar bar rock that draws on classic R&B from the 1970s on. Unlike his New Jersey counterparts, however, Grushecky calls the Iron City of Pittsburgh home. He has also never received the accolades or attention of his New Jersey counterparts. The group, which first emerged as the Iron City Houserockers, released their debut, Love's So Tough, on MCA Records in 1979. A spate of albums followed in the 1980s. However, despite critical accolades from the likes of Rolling Stone and Billboard, among others, the band never achieved commercial success or became a household name. The group's major-label record deal collapsed after four albums that featured production by Steve Cropper and the team of Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson. In 1989, a retooled version of the group resurfaced as Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers with the album Rock & Real.

Landing a deal with the record label Razor & Tie in the early '90s, Grushecky was able to quit his teaching job. Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers experienced somewhat of a renaissance in the mid-'90s (and a media blitz) when Grushecky's old friend Bruce Springsteen produced, co-wrote, played, and sang on the group's American Babylon album. The Boss even joined the band on guitar for a six-night live stand. On the back of the Springsteen connection, the group was seen on CNN, Entertainment Tonight, and MTV and toured Europe several times. The follow-up, 1997's Coming Home, featured four Springsteen co-writes and a gritty mixture of heartland rock and Dylanesque ballads. Grushecky returned to teaching in the late '90s and a live album followed in 1999. Grushecky released a solo album, Fingerprints, in 2002 and another, True Companion, in 2004. Outtakes and Demos 1975-2003, Five Alive in Spain, and the Good Life arrived in 2006.

~ Erik Hage

  • ORIGIN
    Pittsburgh, PA

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