The top 10 songs from The Del Fuegos from Boston, Massachusetts begins with a bit of a history lesson about the band who rocked through the 1980s with its brand of rock music. As rockers, brothers Dan and Warren Zanes dabbled in musical material that had the influence of alternative, blues, garage, hard rock, new wave, punk, and roots rock. In total, The Del Fuegos recorded and released three studio albums while signed to Slash Records before signing up with RCA Records.
After the release of the group’s fourth album with a new lineup, The Del Fuegos decided it was time to pack it in and move on. Between these four records, and 1985’s Spin Radio Concert live album, The Del Fuegos released four singles that became chart hits on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. After this, it wouldn’t be until 2012 that the band would reunite and record an EP titled Silver Star that featured eight new songs. That recording featured a more refined group as age and life experiences brought forth a gentler brand of music that still had elements of rock in it.
Born in 1961, Daniel Zanes was the older brother to Warren Zanes who was born in 1965. Warren was seventeen years old when he joined his brother’s band in 1984, The Del Fuegos right before it signed and released its first studio album with Slash Records. Together, the Zanes toured as a band as an opening act for some of the biggest stars in the music industry such as INXS, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and ZZ Top. In 1984, some of the music critics recognized The Del Fueos as one of the best new bands slated for greatness.
The first studio album the group released was 1984’s The Longest Day. This was followed by 1985’s Boston, Mass. In 1987, it was Stand Up. Between these three, the first two met with success while the third didn’t. As a result, Slash dropped them. After this, Warren Zanes opted out of the lineup while his older brother signed up with RCA Records. The Del Fuegos released its fourth and final studio album, Don’t Run Wild in 1989 before Dan Zanes decided now that the 1980s was over as a decade so was The Del Fuegos as a band.
Before the breakup, The Del Fuegos became one of Boston’s favorite musical acts as the group performed in various venues that ranged from neighborhood bars to large auditoriums, stadiums, and theaters. When the group was founded in 1980, it was Dan Zanes as the guitarist and vocalist, Tom Lloyd on bass, and Steve Morell as the drummer. However, Morell left before The Del Fuegos recorded its first album with Slash Records. He was replaced by Woody Giessmann who’d stay with the lineup until the group was dropped by Slash. Like Warren Zanes, he also moved on.
Replacing him as the next drummer was Joe Donnelly. Warren Zanes’ replacement was Adam Roth. When The Del Fuegos produced its fourth album, it was the group’s last attempt to achieve nationwide stardom. Rick Danko and Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz were brought in as guest musicians in an effort to add extra flavor to The Del Fuegos’ musical style. Smoking in the Fields was recorded in Woodstock, New York before it was released in 1989. After this, Dan Zanes felt it was time to put an end to The Del Fuegos and move on to what would become bigger and better things for the man.
Prior to the release of “I Still Want You” from 1987’s Stand Up, Dan Zanes married Paula Greif, who was the director of the song’s video. The two had a baby girl and moved to New York City where he began to play with a group of other fathers he met in West Village. Like him, they were also musicians so the Wonderland String Band became a popular act that played at parks and parties. This music would be taped by Dan Zanes from his home and it became a regional favorite as soon as it was released. It was at this time he realized he enjoyed making music that was ideal for every member of the family. With women in his band’s roster, it was renamed Rocket Ship Revue which would lead to a full-length home studio album. He also recruited the help of Sheryl Crow, Simon Kirke, and Suzanne Vega to help him finish the project.
Rocket Ship Beach was released in 2000 and it became a big enough hit to spawn a second album, 2001’s Family Dance. That one featured the musical guests of Rosanne Cash and Loudon Wainwright III. The third album, 2002’s Night Time!, featured John Doe, Aimee Mann, Lou Reed, and Dar Williams as guest collaborators. 2003’s House Party featured a twenty-song collection that would earn a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Album for Children. Although it didn’t score the win, the music videos from the album became a Disney Channel favorite. It was featured on Playhouse Disney from 2005 until 2007. It would be in 2007 that Dan Zanes would earn his first Grammy Award win for Best Musical Album for Children with 2006’s Catch That Train!
While the good old days of The Del Fuegos have come and gone, the legacy of Dan Zanes and his music continues to move forward. His most recent album work was 2018’s Night Train 57, a recording he and his new bride, Claudia Eliaza, released, as well as 2018’s songbook, House Party: A Family Roots Music Treasury.
After his run with the Del Fuegos was officially done, he focused on furthering his education which would include earning a Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from The University of Rochester. At one point, he also taught as a professor there. While working as a student at Rochester, he recorded Memory Girls, a studio album after signing with Ideal Records. This label was owned by The Dust Brothers’ E.Z. Mike and King Gizmo who would submit his work to Dualtone Nashville so it could be released. He’d later record four additional albums, People That I’m Wrong For, I Want to Move Out in the Daylight, The Biggest Bankrupt City in the World, and The Collected Warren Zanes.
At one point, Warren Zanes was also a professor at Cleveland, Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University. He was also the Vice President of Education and Public Programs at The Rock and Roll of Fame. He was also the Executive Director of The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation for ten years. Adding to his resume of accomplishments, Warren Zanes also wrote the best-selling books, 2003’s Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis, 2007’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream, 2009’s Revolutions in Sounds: Warner Bros. Records, the First Fifty Years, 2015’s Petty: The Biography, and Nebraska, Deliver Me from Nowhere.
He also worked with Garth Brooks and his five-book Anthology Series. He also worked in film as a consulting producer for the Oscar-winning Twenty Feet from Stardom, as well as a producer for the Grammy-nominated PBS Soundbreaking series. He’s also conducted interviews for Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World. As a writer, he contributed to The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash. Since 2019, Warren Zane and his sons have been poets for Paul Muldoon’s Rogue Oliphant and have taken part in some of the songs written while with this organization.
Between 2011 and 2012, The Del Fuegos reunited as Dan and Warren Zanes began its concert tour where it all started in Boston, Massachusetts before finishing off at their hometown in Concord, New Hampshire. The group also released an EP in 2012, Silver Star. When Dan and Warren were asked how to describe themselves as brothers, they used the term “fractious.”
The term is sometimes used to describe unruly behavior but is also linked to people who are quick to temper and become quarrelsome. Although Dan and Warren both enjoyed lengthy careers as entertainers, their individual paths took different directions. However, the 2011 reunion, as well as 2023 demonstrated the two were still close enough to perform together before a live audience. Now with age and experience under their belts, the core members of The Del Fuegos sent fans down memory lane to an era when the 1980s was booming with a variety of rock and new wave sounds that swept across the nation.
Top 10 Songs from the Del Fuegos
#10 – The Longest Day
“The Longest Day” was the title track from The Del Fuegos’ debut album, a 1984 release when the four-man band signed up with Slash Records. Much like the majority of the music on it, there was a mix of garage-style and rootsy rock to the song that came across as a rambunctious rockabilly number.
“The Longest Day” was the kind of song that would be an underground rock favorite with Dan Zanes starting off with a vocal performance before the raw energy of the guitars burst into a performance that made it a danceable favorite for the fans. While with Slash Records, producer Mitchell Froom’s talent as keyboardist served as a key influence to “The Longest Day” as an impressionable favorite with fans who were drawn to the rootsy rock sound The Del Fuegos became famous for.
#9 – Breakaway
As a group, The Del Fuegos earned a fan following that included Tom Petty. Likewise, the band members were also a fan of his. “Breakaway’ was a jangly rock song that seemed to borrow a page from the singing and songwriting talent of Petty himself. At one point, The Del Fuegos opened for Petty in concert, as well as performing with him. Long after the demise of The Del Fuegos, Warren Zanes was close enough to Tom Petty to write two best-selling books about him. Dan Zanes demonstrated why he became so popular in the music industry even long after The Del Fuegos became no more after 1989.
“Breakaway” came from The Del Fuegos’ final album, Smoking in the Fields, a 1989 release that had Adam Roth as guitarist instead of Warren Zanes. Because of this new band combination, there were new sounds introduced that were first experimented with in 1987 with Stand Up. The vibe of “Breakaway’ also had a hint of Dire Straits influence, namely “So Far Away from Me” as it somewhat shared the same style but with a bit of R&B flavor.
#8 – Down in Allen’s Mills
The recording of Smoking in the Fields in 1989 featured a changed lineup that still had Dan Zanes as the frontman, as well as bass guitarist Tom Lloyd but now had Adam Roth as guitarist and John Donnelly as the drummer. With “Down in Allen’s Mills,” The Del Fuegos adopted the Bruce Springsteen approach with this song’s performance. It was a song about wanting to get out of town in search of a better life, much like The Boss’s “Born to Run.” The desire to do more than just travel in circles of a community that doesn’t seem to have much going for it makes “Down in Allen’s Mills” the kind of song that serves as a great highway tune as one gets behind the wheel and just go in whatever direction fate has in mind for you to take.
#7 – Coup De Ville
When The Del Fuegos recorded Boston, Mass, “Coup De Ville” was one of the favored songs by fans and critics. As a whole, the album was more adventurous as the Zanes and their bandmates tapped further into garage-style rock. This was the kind of song best played in a bar at night as the patrons let loose. “Coup De Ville” was a bluesy love ballad that was highlighted by the guitar performances by Dan Zanes and his younger brother, Warren. According to the lyrics, the “Coup De Ville” belonged to a love interest that seemed to be beyond his grasp at first but later became part of a lifestyle that met with one great cruise trip after another.
#6 – When the News is On
“When the News is On” was a song from The Del Fuegos’ first album, The Longest Day. Its memorable line, “And sometimes love is a lot like a shoe. You run around too much and it’ll fall apart,” was a lyrical work of genius to describe how fast a relationship can disintegrate when the commitment from the couple involved isn’t where it should be. This was a brand of rootsy rock that defined The Del Fuegos as a four-man band that was full of youthful energy.
#5 – I’m Inside You
“I’m Inside You” was regarded as a carnal love ballad according to one of the reviews The Del Fuegos received. It was one of the songs recorded for the group’s fourth and final studio album, Smoking in the Fields. This was a 1989 release and it had a new lineup as Woody Giessmann and Warren Zanes were out while John Donnelly and Adam Roth were in. While the Slash Records lineup was no more, the RCA Records crew showed promise in what seemed to be a last-ditch effort to make the big breakthrough The Del Fuegos needed. “I’m Inside You” had a Bob Dylan like sound to it as a somewhat folksy love song that also had elements of R&B into it.
#4 – Don’t Run Wild
The Del Fuegos’ debut single was 1986’s “Don’t Run Wild,” which came from the group’s second studio album, Boston, Mass. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it peaked as high as number forty-six. Granted, it was not a big nationwide hit but it served as a rootsy rock intro that had critics expecting Dan and Warren Zanes, along with Tom Lloyd and Woody Geissmann, to achieve stardom as a rock band. “Don’t Run Wild” enjoyed a heightened popularity after it was featured in commercials that promoted Miller Beer. “Don’t Run Wild” was a brand of rockabilly-style garage rock that made The Del Fuegos one of the favorite acts The Miller Brewing Company chose when it released two compilation albums and some of its most popular commercials.
#3 – Name Names
“Name Names” was released as a single in 1987 from The Del Fuegos’ third studio album, Stand Up. This was a recording that had Dan Zanes embrace elements of R&B as he and his bandmates attempted to merge this genre with the rootsy, garage-style rock that made them so popular as a band. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it became a number forty-three hit.
While The Del Fuegos performed as a band with Dan and Warren Zanes as guitarists, it won over a fan base of discerning listeners such as Tom Petty. Should fans notice a few similarities between “Name Names” and some of Tom Petty’s songs it was because both recording artists influenced each other with their musical styles. While The Del Fuegos didn’t exactly stand out nationally as big-time rockers, it did earn a loyal fan following who appreciated the no-frills, garage-style approach that served as the core definition of what classic rock and roll is about.
#2 – Move With Me Sister
When The Del Fuegos recorded its fourth and final album, Smoking in the Fields, “Move With Me Sister” was one of the singles released from it. This song featured Magic Dick’s over-driven harp which played a key role in it becoming a number twenty-two hit on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it became a number thirty-two hit. Among the fan base who preferred the lineup that recorded three albums for Slash Records, many felt “Move With Me Sister” was missing that special vibe that made The Del Fuegos so popular as a rock act from Boston.
However, the new energy poured into “Move With Me Sister” from Rick Danko and Magic Dick added a little extra soul to a song that made it a popular favorite as the 1980s decade drew to a close. “Move With Me Sister” was a great song for bars to play to ignite the dance floor, especially as the opening guitar riffs made it easy to just get up and groove with the music.
#1 – I Still Want You
On the US Billboard Hot 100, 1986’s “I Still Want You” became a number eighty-six hit. It also peaked as high as number thirty-three US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. This came from The Del Fuegos’ second studio album, Boston, Mass. This is the one that became the overall favorite, especially after it became more popular as the song used in commercial advertisements by the Miller Brewing Company, namely for its Miller Beer product. Many fans listening to this song make a connection to some of Bruce Springsteen’s finest work. The romanticism of “I Still Want You” is what made The Del Fuegos go from regional rock heroes to a band full of promise on a national scale.
“I Still Want You” was part of Miller Beer’s “Made the American Way” campaign as The Miller Brewing Company focused on winning over a younger beer-drinking audience. At the time, The Del Fuegos were among the earlier Boston-based rock bands that began to earn national attention. Beating the Zanes to the punch in this regard were Aerosmith and Boston.
While those two became huge international superstars, The Del Fuegos became regional fan favorites from 1980 until 1989. “I Still Want You” became The Del Fuegos’ signature hit, thanks to the echo-style guitar riffs and simple yet powerful lyrics. The organ music smoked in the background, a Slash Records contribution made by keyboardist Mitchell Froom. While with Slash, The Del Fuegos worked closely with Froom as it rose to fame as one of Boston’s favorite musical acts clean through the 1980s.
Top 10 Del Fuegos Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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