80's Cage Match: Donnie Iris "Ah Leah" vs Sly Fox "Let's Go All The Way"!


In this week's installment of 80's Cage Match, we pit the Pride Of Pittsburgh, Donnie Iris, against a band that, even now, nobody knows a thing about.  There is no town taking pride in the fact that the members of Sly Fox were born there, or formed there, or live there now and, well, that's actually kind of sad, really.


The first time I heard this tune was when I played the 12" promo single that I got for a quarter down at the local record store.  Back then, though I was a kid with no verifiable income, I somehow came up with a lot of cash that was subsequently blown on all sorts of unknown bands.  As I look back upon it now, it's uncanny how high my batting average was in picking out great things completely sight unseen.  I mean, there wasn't even any cover art to go by, just a plain black sleeve and the white MCA Records promo label.

But when I put it on my stereo and cranked that volume knob all the way to the "Annoy all parents and neighbors" setting, what I heard seemed almost ripped from my subconscious.  It was like encountering that one beautiful man or woman built to your exact mental specifications and placed there by a God who is obviously curious to see what you will do when given exactly what you want.

Do you merely ogle from afar or do you walk up and say "Hi"?

In the case of "Ah! Leah!", I not only walked up and said, "Hi", I brought her home to meet the parents.  

After about the 15,000th consecutive spin, however, my dad had had enough.  He politely knocked on my door and told me that the song had been great the previous 14,999 times, but this time, not so much.  I laughed and turned off the stereo because what else could I do?  It was his house.  He then backtracked a bit by asking who it was - you know, trying to take an interest in his kid's music and all - and when I told him who it was, his jaw dropped and he asked, "Are you shitting me?"

My dad, it turns out, had been a fan of the Jaggerz, who had quite the hit in the '60's with "The Rapper", but leave it to my dad to not only know the names of the band members, but to remember them all these years later.  "Play that song again," he said.

I did as I was told (one of the few times, admittedly) and then we both started digging through his stack of old singles that found a new home in my bedroom right around the time I got a record player for my fifth birthday.  Lo and behold, there it was: The Jaggerz, "The Rapper", written by "Dominic Ierace", released on the Kama Sutra Records label.

Holy crap, I said.  The music geek in me, even then, loved when mysterious dots like this became connected.  The idea that my dad and I could like the same dude for completely different musical reasons was endlessly cool.

Despite the fact that what Donnie was doing in the '80s was completely modern, the fact that he came from the '60's rock scene meant that his music was infused with a healthy respect for tradition and song craft.



By comparison, what we know about Sly Fox is that they came right out of the box firing on all cylinders, scored a monumental radio hit with the monster single "Let's Go All The Way", from their lone 1985 album of the same name, and then, pffffffffft.

The song itself was about as perfect a blast of synth-driven stadium pop as to ever come down the turnpike. The production is top-loaded with every '80s bell and whistle known to man, nonsensical lyrics that make Savage Garden's "chic-a-cherry cola" song ("I Want You") seem profound by comparison.

Thing is, we never tire of hearing "Let's Go All The Way".  Heck, we've even been caught singing along at the grocery store a time or two.  Yet we've never once thought Hey, I wonder what the rest of the album sounds like.  Of course, the album is out-of-print and, near as we can tell, was never officially released on any digital format, leading us to believe, well, we weren't the only ones who thought that way.

So, what was it about the duo, and the song, that made us collectively dance our asses off to "Let's Go All The Way" while turning a deaf ear to the rest of their music?


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