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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

(the) Michael Stanley Band - ~You Break it...You Bought It, *You Can't Fight Fashion

Name: (the) Michael Stanley Band 
Albums: ~You Break It...You Bought It, *You Can't Fight Fashion
Years: ~1975, *1983
Style: Blue Collar/Heartland Rock, Pub Rock
Similar Bands: Todd Rundgren, Utopia, John Cougar Mellencamp, J. Geils Band, Bruce Springsteen, Big Star, Bob Seger, REO Speedwagon, Kavaret, Michael McDonald
One Word Review: Dated Middle America Rock
Based Out Of: Cleveland, OH
Labels: Epic, EMI
You Break It...You Bought It - Cover & Record
You Break It...You Bought It - Back & Record
 You Can't Fight Fashion  - Cover & Record
 You Can't Fight Fashion  - Back & Record
You Break It...You Bought It (1975)
  1. I'm Gonna Love You 4:04
  2. Dancing In The Dark 2:59
  3. Step The Way 3:32
  4. Waste a Little Time on Me 3:36
  5. Lost in the Funhouse Again 3:40
  6. Gypsy Eyes 3:40 /
  7. Face the Music 4:36
  8. Sweet Refrain 3:59
  9. Highway Angel 5:25
  10. Where Have All The Clowns Gone 4:17
  11. Song For My Children 3:01
You Can't Fight Fashion (1983)
  1. Hard Time 4:25
  2. Just Give Me Tonight 4:31
  3. Someone Like You 5:47
  4. Highlife 5:04 /
  5. My Town 3:58
  6. The Damage is Done 5:04
  7. Fire In The Hole 4:12
  8. How Can You Call This Love 4:20
  9. Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels) 4:41
Album Rating (1-10):~ 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
~*Michael Stanley - Guitar, Vox (Silk, the Resonators, Ghost Poets)
~Jonah Koslen - Guitar, Vox (Snake Eyes, Breathless, Ghost Poets)
~Daniel Pecchio - Bass, Vox (Glass Harp, Phil Keaggy)
~*Tommy Dobeck - Drums, Comgas (Browns All-Star Band, Circus)
*Bob Pelander - Keys (Ghost Poets)
*Kevin Raleigh - Keys, Vox  (Paper Sun, Freeport Express, Freeport, Dynamite, Pictures)
* Michael Gismondi - Bass 
*Rick Bell - Sax
*Danny Powers - Guitar
*Bob Clearmountain - Producer, Mixing
~Asheton Gorton - Cover
~Jimmy Wachtel - Design
~Allan Blazek - Engineer
~Ed Mashal - Engineer
~Paul Harris - Keys (Manassas, Southern-Hillman-Furay Band, session work)
~Huey Chopburn - Percussion
~Henry Diltz - Photography
~Bill Szymczyk - Producer, Engineer
~Albhy Galuten - Synth (other work)

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but between the general head-of-a-band name, and the mechanical / factory nature of the artwork, I'm guessing this is roots rock n roll: general Americana midwestern hick rock. Just how much will it be like Bruce Springsteen, though (not that I am a fan of or know much of the boss's catalog)

Album Review: Michael Stanley and the MSB are the epitome of local superstars with only moderate success outside of the region. Michael Stanley began in a band in college, and recorded two solo albums after that, while regional managing a record chain. From there he started the MSB in 1974, and starting in ’75, released an album a year for 12 years (skipping ’85). Most were on major labels, until they were unceremoniously dropped following You Can’t Fight Fashion. Their final 2 records were self-released. They hold some local concert attendance records, and their hit My Town, from YCFF, is still played by the Ohio State band at sports events. They finished their career together with a string of 12 concerts back in 86.

~”I'm Gonna Love You” was a single. Power Pop chords and a driving bass drum beat start off the slice of Americana pride. It rocks out with some near country electric guitar and fades out in the end.
“Dancing In The Dark” begins like a Big Star track, then changes direction into piano ballad territory.
“Step The Way” has a slightly dark town, and comes off like a prog rock track, reminding me of Kavaret.
“Waste a Little Time on Me” sounds like a country rock slow dance with some dated synth at the very end.
“Lost in the Funhouse Again” is a funky prog rock song, thanks to the disco bass. The whining electric guitar plays the song out over a gospel chorus of whoo-ho-hoos.
“Gypsy Eyes” relaxes from the energy in the last song with a soft whisper of a ballad. Power builds into the chorus, but the delivery is slow and methodical.

“Face the Music” was also a single. It starts right away with a fun bouncy bass line, dipping into bluesy pub rock and applying an underlying psychedelic organ. The chorus is powerful and catchy. This is the best song up to this point.
“Sweet Refrain” shifts gears quite suddenly to another quiet AM Radio ballad. Right before the chorus it uses a hook stolen from the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane.”  Perhaps that is the reason/ inspiration for the song in the first place.
“Highway Angel” begins with some slide guitar and funky guitars after a bit of dialogue. This would fit into the country rock camp.
“Where Have All The Clowns Gone” ” is a soft song, with a bit of a Soul Asylum feel to it, such as the soft verse in Black Gold.
“Song For My Children It is a respectful sentimental song and bleeds right in from the previous track. The end talks about being so high, and it feels like a mellow cloud walk, so I can only imagine the meaning.

*”Hard Time” starts off with a chugging bass line and dark, wind swept guitar and synth melodies. The vocals are drawn out and accented a little like Michael McDonald.
“Just Give Me Tonight” blasts out with sax and an upbeat tempo. Blue Collar vocals and general rock power through, along with some harmonies. The chorus sounds a little like Jackson Brown’s “Somebody’s Baby” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
“Someone Like You” was a single, and sung by Kevin Raleigh. It reached #75 on the Billboard Magazine chart. The vocals are higher, perhaps a little Rod Stewart-ish, without the raspy-ness. But there is a very nice, fun drive in the chorus. Maybe sounding a bit like The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.” And it ends on an energetic high that fades out.
“Highlife” is a sinister synth song, with sax intro. The vocals are the exaggerated McDonald style again, and the chorus gives a lighter clarity to the song’s dark verse.

“My Town” was a single, and is still performed by Ohio State’s band. It reached #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It has a very Bruce Springsteen or John C. Mellencamp feel to it right away. It’s a chugging, energetic sing along.
“The Damage is Done” is a reflective slow piano based song with lots of ethereal, ambient synth sounds in the background. It sounds very dated to the early 80’s era…complete with sax solo.
“Fire In The Hole” is about a mining disaster. It has a nervous, synth energy, and the vocals are different than the first couple songs full of loud emotion. The end of the song has a bit of call and response with an army of miners chanting the song title at each other.
“How Can You Call This Love” sounds like it is sung by a woman. It is a typical smoothly energetic Footloose style song, swinging tempo from resting to rushing at the drop of the chorus. Electric guitar flourishes, reminding me a little of Beat it, are added for texture.
“Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels)” is a country hard rock song, with exaggerated vocals a bit like Michael McDonald.

Stand Out Track: ~Face The Music
*My Town


1 comment:

  1. If you heard the song "He Can't Love You," you'd remember these guys-it was a fairly big radio hit in Philly back in '81 (from the "Heartland" album). Kevin Raliegh was the lead singer on that one and his vocals were perfect for a poppy single. These are both solid albums, although the latter reflects the radio-friendly sound they'd found on "Heartland." Stanley continues to write and record to this day, and remains one of my favorites-check him out at http://www.michaelstanley.com/