Fortune 410

Donnie Iris

MCA Records, 1983

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/31/1998

You've got to say this much about Donnie Iris: Even when he was off, he was good.

Iris might be unfairly relegated to the annals of rock history these days (although Razor & Tie, to their credit, are beginning to re-release his older albums), but he showed often in his glory days that he was a pop songster of the top caliber. He might have never topped his big hit "Ah! Leah!", but his 1983 release Fortune 410 showed there was still a lot to smile about in his music.

Like Iris's first album Back On The Streets, this is one that should be listened to more than once in order to get some of the nuances that one would miss on a cursory listen. While the messages are simple enough to understand quickly and the songs are often catchy, Iris's music often takes the extra effort in order to truly appreciate what he has crafted.nbtc__dv_250

At some times, it seems like Iris is trying too hard to create the success he had with "Ah! Leah!". The opening track, "Human Evolution," is somewhat cute, but it sounds like the band loses count in the rhythm twice in the song -- then again, maybe that's how it was crafted. It just doesn't sound right. In contrast, "Stagedoor Johnny" succeeds on all levels, reminding many people who might have harbored dreams of being a successful musician that luck can shine on you when you least expect it. And "She's So European" does capture the magic, but it almost seems like it ends far too soon.

Iris and his bandmates do take some chances with different rhythm patterns on Fortune 410, especially on "Cry If You Want To," a decent effort that is not too challenging to listen to. "Tell Me What You Want" takes the basic structure of the beat from "Human Evolution" and -- aah -- evolves it into a catchy beat and addictive melody.

But in the end, Iris tries to match up to the level of songwriting he had on earlier efforts, and he just falls short. Tracks like "I'm A User" (boy, was Iris psychic or what? He's pretty much on the target with what would happen in the future), "Somebody" and "Do You Compute?" are okay efforts -- nothing terrible, by any means -- but they fail to hit the bullseye.

Of course, this is the kind of pitfall one would expect when they hold anything else Iris does next to Back On The Streets -- and taken on its own, Fortune 410 is still a pleasant enough album that's worth your searching out. (I found my copy at the used record store near my house; this particular place usually has at least one of Iris's albums or tapes in stock at all times.) Iris shows time and time again that his success was no fluke in the early '80s, but it does seem like sometimes he was trying a little too hard.

Rating: B-

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