REO Speedwagon and Foreigner, move over: There are about 10,000 rock bands with the same musical ideas who want some of your air play, and Donnie Iris and the Cruisers is one of them.
Iris' latest release, "The High and Mighty," is full of hard rock gone soft. While the big rock bottom makes these songs tough enough for the concert halls, the synthesizer colorings, repeated courses and lush harmonies turn them into radio-sized, pop-in-your-ear nuggets. Unfortunately, Iris' formula is non-distinctive and derivative.
The album's title cut is a misfire at a major Queen-style arena anthem. Opening with a military beat and one of Iris' patented doomsday shrieks, the band works and overworks some simple power chords and massive choruses into a stupefying sing- along. The album's other cuts -- a bare 30 minutes' worth -- offer more strangled teenage angst, heavily rendered by some seasoned hard rockers. The only exception is the album's throwaway, "Parallel Time," a light-hearted '50s-style, sci-fi tune that's so silly and danceable, it might be real. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM DONNIE IRIS AND THE CRUISERS -- The High and the Mighty (MCA 5358). THE CONCERT DONNIE IRIS AND THE CRUISERS, Tuesday at 9 at the Bayou.