Get a Free Copy of THE COMPACT MICHAEL STANLEY CD - when you purchase any Michael Stanley or MSB CD!
From the mid-70's to the mid-80's, The Michael Stanley Band rocked arenas all over the midwest, setting still-unmatched concert attendance records at northeastern Ohio's Blossom Music Center and The Coliseum in Cleveland.
With album sales reaching the hundreds of thousands, the band enjoyed a strong and undeniably loyal following in other areas of the country as well, and toured with some greats, including Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Foreigner and The Doobie Brothers...
In his early days of recording his talent attracted the likes of producer Bill Szymczyk and guest musicians Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, and David Sanborn from the beginning. He formed the Michael Stanley Band (aka MSB) in 1975 and pursued a more straightforward rock direction.
To this day, Michael's first two albums are mainstays of any fan of 70's country rock. Songs like "Rosewood Bitters," "Moving Right Along," "Yours for a Song" and the ultimate Michael Stanley tune, "Let's Get The Show on The Road" have survived well. Most favorably compared to Dan Fogelberg's early albums, Michael was and still is extremely capable of writing songs that raise the little hairs on the back of your neck. Just from his uncanny ability to write perfect songs ever since he began would be enough reason to listen to his music but Michael has been able to do what few other artists have in that he hasn't changed his magic method. His new songs are just as vibrant as his classics. The sign of a true artist.
Finally! It's time for a Michael Stanley Anthology.
Michael Stanley started out as a bass player with the folk-rock group Silk in the late '60s, and according to Michael, "We weren't very good." Destiny demanded a solo career which in 1972 began with the self-titled first album on Tumbleweed Records which was produced by Bill Szymczyk (The Eagles, The Who) and featured "Rosewood Bitters," the song that would launch the 40 plus year journey that culminates in the release of "The Solo Years 1995-2014." One more solo effort came in 1973 entitled "Friends & Legends" which is aptly titled since it, like the first album, included the efforts of Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren and David Sanborn with Bill Szymczyk at the helm again. It produced the legendary classic, "Let's Get The Show On The Road" which, to this day, commands thunderous applause in concert performances.
In 1974, Michael's friend Jonah Koslen was added to the list of friends and legends along with Daniel Pecchio from Glass Harp, and Tommy Dobeck and The Michael Stanley Band came into being. For more than a decade MSB worked wonders with fans and the singles charts as they took control of the Mid-West Rock scene. 12 albums and 12 years later, Michael saw the end of MSB and thought his rock star status had come to an end. But in the words of Michael, "Making music is a powerful drug; one that, despite the travails of the profession, can help keep you sane…or maybe just a little bit less insane…but anyway you look at it, it’s still a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy!"
And thus, in 1995 he picked up where he left off in '74, feeding the addiction of writing songs and performing. Michael says, "It was a second act that I had never envisioned but one that I am eternally grateful for because it led to the twelve solo albums from which 'The Solo Years' was pulled. I have been blessed to be able to continue to make music with people I love and respect and they always, always make the tunes better. And to rekindle a working relationship with my dear friend and mentor Bill Szymczyk on this anthology was the perfect icing on the cake."
This 3 disc set is structured as - Disc One: The Rousers, Disc Two: The Weepies and Disc Three: Crispy's Critters. The Rousers are tunes that have always excited his fans. The Weepies are powerful and emotional ballads. Crispy' Critters (referring to Bill Szymczyk's nick-name of "Crispy") was selected and sequenced by Bill himself and includes Bill's faves from Michael's solo material. Bill was driven to write liner notes for this release as well.
"The Solo Years - 1995-2014" also includes two previously unreleased tracks that are sure to make MS fans very, very happy. Twenty years down and at least twenty more to go. Michael Stanley never stops!
To prove a point!
To your left you see a streaming player that I call "The Compact Michael Stanley." The point here is that this collection of Michael Stanley tracks comes from each of his solo albums, and yet not one of them is contained on "The Solo Years 1995-2014," the anthology that is offered below. That's just how good Michael is!
Track one, "Rosewood Bitters," comes from the self-titled first album, the song that launched his career. The next two tracks come from his second album, "Friends & Legends" with track three, "Let's Get The Show On The Road" - a concert staple to this day. As we proceed through the rest of his albums, "After Hollywood" from the album "Coming Up For Air" begins the post Michael Stanley Band era and then we progress to "American Road" from the album of the same name and a song that defines the Mid-West Rock genre. "Tupleo Rain" may be one of the most overlooked tracks in his catalog but it's a classic rock song if there ever was one.
Michael's cover of the Stones' "Dead Flowers" (from "The Farrago Sessions") has always been one of my faves as has been "Breaking News" from his most recent release, "The Job" which proves another point, that Michael can write ballads with the best of them. It certainly seems that a MS anthology should actually be 4 or more discs, but we had to stop somewhere.
Other tracks on this sampler:
"Moving Right Along" from the first album
"Downstream" from "Eighteen Down"
"Come On Down" from "Shadowland"
"Cadillac Man" from "The Soft Addictions"
"From Somewhere Else" from "The Hang"
"When The Smoke It Finally Clears" from "The Ride"
"In For a Dollar" from "The Ground"
Once you hear this collection you'll want to hear more - and obviously, we have a lot more. So go ahead and check out "The Solo Years" and be prepared for greatness.
(The above sampler is not for sale, only for your listening pleasure on this page BUT
When you purchase Michael Stanley - "The Solo Years" 3 CD set or any other CD on this page you will receive a
FREE COPY of "The Compact Michael Stanley" on CD!!!
This is a limited time offer and may expire at any time so get a copy while you can.)
Below you will find the entire Michael Stanley catalog including all Michael Stanley Band albums - ReMastered in digipak format on CD along with downloads of the albums.
2015 brings yet another album from the guy who rocks Cleveland and beyond. Check it out and order it now and get it 2 months before street date. Or download it now - it's up to you.
We pulled this one from the vault. It's a radio broadcast on WNEW in NY from The Ritz at 10 AM no less. You die hard fans will want this one especially since the CD version comes with a bonus disc of the band on the BBC Rock Hour and you won't find these bonus tracks anywhere as downloads. They only come as a bonus disc with this CD.
"It seems like many blue-collar rock & roll heroes of the 1970s and '80s got their start as folkies, and Cleveland legend Michael Stanley is one of them. His self-titled debut album was released in 1972, and it is a wildly mixed bag of introspective, acoustic folk-rock (a la James Taylor and others of that sensitive singer-songwriter ilk) and simple rock & roll. Stanley's potential was obvious, and this fact drew producer and Tumbleweed Records co-founder Bill Szymczyk, Joe Walsh, and other well-known musicians to the project."
- Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
"The title of Michael Stanley's 1973 album Friends & Legends — his second and final solo effort before starting the Michael Stanley Band — is certainly deserved. The Clevelander's talent must have been immediately evident to big names in the music business, because even Stanley's self-titled debut featured stellar guests. Bill Szymczyk produced Friends & Legends, and he recruited Joe Walsh and his band Barnstorm, Stephen Stills' Manassas, saxophonist David Sanborn, Richie Furay, and Dan Fogelberg to perform on it; J. Geils is also credited for helping Stanley co-produce the saxophone parts. "Among My Friends Again" is pleasant, easygoing folk-rock. An extremely mellow, reflective cover of the Beatles' "Help" is impressive, and Stanley says in the liner notes to the Razor & Tie reissue that a friend played it for John Lennon, who replied that Stanley's version was performed the way he originally conceived the song. The dramatically brooding "Let's Get the Show On the Road" is one of Stanley's best songs and was a concert favorite for many years."
Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
“Michael’s getting more and more Chris Rea-esque, treading in the tradition of Guthrie and Seeger but well updated, and this, ladies and gentlemen, has resulted in his finest exposition to date, top to bottom. I ain't kiddin' one little bit.”
- Mark S. Tucker - FAME
"The Ride" is a triumphant salute to letting go and letting groove. Stanley is mining his talent here and the vein is deep. Here's hoping Stanley continues "The Ride." I don't care where he takes it as long as it is further.
It seems like I keep saying this every time Michael releases a new CD but true is true - and it's true again that he's made another fantastic (23rd) album with "The Hang."
Michael says,“I think it would be fair to say that this is the 'darkest' album I've ever made as it was conceived during a particularly daunting eighteen month period in my life...but, that being said, I also think it's a testament of hope and to the power we accrue from those we chose to have at our side on our journey.”
My god man! Is there any end to Michael's energy? He just keeps on churnin' out the albums like a man on a mission. And the old saying (and Michael Nesmith album title) The Hits Just Keep On Comin' applies here as well. Michael is only hitting his stride and rockin' harder than ever. You go boy!
Like fine wine, great rock songs get better with time if they truly were great to begin with. The same can be said far too infrequently of rock stars. That is, except for Michael Stanley, as he releases his best album to date with "Just Another Night." I don't know where all this angst and insight came from this late in his life but it sure feels good to me. Song after song he comes out of the gate ahead of where the odds-makers would put him as he slams your speakers with truly "classic" rock and some heartwrenching ballads. God bless Michael Stanley!
Dean Sciarra - Classic Music Vault
The Soft Addictions is the 24th album in a career that continues to break new ground while holding on to the unique vision that has made him a songwriter's songwriter! “This is a group of songs that came from a lifetime of observations on adventures, and misadventures, with the fairer sex,” said Stanley.
The Soft Addictions features spirited performances by members of Stanley's touring band “The Resonators” as well as indie legends, Don Dixon & Marti Jones. Longtime cohort and mentor, Bill Szymczyk, mixed the album.
From the powerful loss-of-innocence opener “The Curves Of Bratenahl” through “Mallory”, a rocking bit of advice to young lady on the brink of womanhood, to the sadly hopeful closer “No Rules When You Dream”, The Soft Addictions is the kind of musical tour de force that you have come to expect from Michael Stanley. Turn it up and enjoy!
"After two solo albums in the early '70s, Michael Stanley formed the Michael Stanley Band, which released "You Break It, You Bought It!" in 1975. This Bill Szymczyk-produced platter was the first of three albums on Epic Records, and it also started the process of turning the Cleveland band into hometown legends. Rhythm guitarist Stanley was the band's namesake, but he shared songwriting and lead-vocal duties with lead guitarist Jonah Koslen. You Break It, You Bought It! is the promising beginning of a talented Midwestern band equally comfortable with rockers and ballads."
Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
"The Michael Stanley Band's skills were obviously increasing by its second album, 1976's Ladies' Choice. It also leaned more toward rockers than ballads, whereas the material on the previous year's You Break It, You Bought It! was a more even split. Once again, Bill Szymczyk handled production duties and Ladies' Choice also continued Stanley's practice of having high-profile guest musicians sit on some sessions."
Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
1978's Cabin Fever is one of the most interesting albums in the Michael Stanley Band catalog due to the circumstances of its recording and the music contained within. It was MSB's first release on Arista Records and it was produced by up-and-comer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who would helm AC/DC's Highway to Hell the next year and quickly become one of the most important and successful producers of the 1980s and beyond. Originally, Bob Ezrin was supposed to produce the album, but Stanley isn't sure why that plan fell apart. Cabin Fever was recorded in Wales and England and Stanley remembers plastering the control room with photos of Blondie's Debbie Harry and sharing Trident Studios with Genesis in London.
Gary Markasky replaced Jonah Koslen as lead guitarist, and it was the first studio album for keyboardist Bob Pelander, but the last album for bassist Daniel Pecchio. "Baby if You Wanna Dance" is the appropriately boisterous opening track. "Long Time (Looking for a Dream)" is a gentle pop ballad and the string section was directed by Electric Light Orchestra arranger Lou Clark. "Misery Loves Company" rocks along with an upbeat sound despite depressing lyrics. The piano-based ballad "Why Should Love Be This Way" is pleasant, but its creation was a bit convoluted as Stanley explains in the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes. Arista boss Clive Davis didn't like the original version, so MSB re-recorded the lead vocals and piano and remixed it; Lange, Davis, and Rick Chertoff are credited as co-producers. The original version is included as a bonus track on the Razor & Tie CD. "Slip Away" includes bright rhythm guitar and strong all-around vocals. The off-kilter beat of "Only a Dreamer" features a complex arrangement and nice organ and guitar work.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
1979's Greatest Hints — the title being an inside-joke wink from a group that had not broken through the mainstream to have a "greatest hits" collection — is more of a rock album from start to finish than its ballad-rich predecessor, 1978's Cabin Fever. Stanley discusses this fact in the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes, as well as the fact that Greatest Hints, which was produced by veteran Harry Maslin, is oddly heavy on additional percussion. This album also marked the MSB debut of additional keyboardist/singer/songwriter Kevin Raleigh and bass guitarist/saxophonist Michael Gismondi. Raleigh (who would be an important focal point on subsequent albums) and keyboardist Bob Pelander blend their piano, organ, and synthesizer work easily on Greatest Hints. "Last Night," "Don't Lead With Your Love," and "Promises" are fun rockers, and the instrumental cohesion is impressive. "Back in My Arms Again," written by Holland-Dozier-Holland for the Supremes, swings along joyfully. "Beautiful Lies" is this album's only ballad. "We're Not Strangers Anymore" is loaded with strings, but it doesn't drag down the mid-tempo rock feel. The six members of MSB are individually talented, but they jell for the benefit of the songs on Greatest Hints. Stanley himself sings lead, but Raleigh's harmonies add a nice counterpoint since their voices are dissimilar.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
"Cleveland's Michael Stanley Band were a phenomenon in Northeast Ohio in the late '70s and early '80s and set attendance records at several concert halls, but MSB only achieved modest success nationwide. Heartland, a superb slice of meat-and-potatoes, Midwestern rock & roll, is their best album, as Stanley himself as much as says in the liner notes of their Razor & Tie reissue. MSB had been dropped by Arista Records after 1979' s Greatest Hints and were having trouble finding a new label, so the band members decided to produce an album completely on their own terms with no outside meddling. If they couldn't find a label, they planned on releasing the album independently. Luckily, EMI America picked up Heartland and the Michael Stanley Band spent their four most prosperous years with the company."
Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
The Michael Stanley Band reached its creative peak with 1980's Heartland and finally enjoyed some commercial success to boot. As Stanley says in the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes, MSB was finally in the enviable position of having its record company clamor for a follow-up. Fortunately, 1981's North Coast offered another fine batch of songs and a new member in saxophonist Rick Bell. Assuming production duties this time around was legendary knob-twiddler Eddie Kramer, known for his work with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Kiss. "In the Heartland" has a pounding, insistent groove, and it became an MSB concert staple. Keyboardist/vocalist Kevin Raleigh's "When Your Heart Says Its Right" is infectious pop/rock and the chorus is terrific. "Somewhere in the Night," another favorite among the MSB faithful, is a strong tune in which the slightly more subtle verses make the chorus more explosive. Two other engaging rockers are "Heaven and Hell" and "Don't You Do That to Me." The acoustic guitar-based ballad "Falling in Love Again" is emotional without being syrupy. "Chemistry" nearly approaches new wave thanks to its jittery pace, repeating synthesizer lick and shouted chorus. It's a bit of a departure from MSB's consistently solid Midwestern rock & roll, and that makes it interesting. Buoyant 1950s-style rock is the model for "Let's Hear It," a hard-driving slice of all-out fun. The lighthearted lyrics touch on everything from a hard-working bar band to beautiful and tempting female fans to blue-collar audiences. Keyboardist Bob Pelander goes wild with an "attack piano" solo. The North Coast CD includes two live bonus tracks, "Somewhere in the Night" and "Shut Up and Leave Me Alone," recorded at Cleveland's Blossom Music Center in 1984.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
The Michael Stanley Band continued its long string of consistently good rock & roll albums with 1982's MSB. The Cleveland band also had a knack for attracting noted producers and co-producers, and this time around it was Don Gehman, who hit commercial and critical paydirt that same year with John Cougar's American Fool. In the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Stanley commends Gehman for helping guide the band through a difficult time in the studio. The music, fortunately, doesn't really bear any scars. Stanley and vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Raleigh contributed some solid songs, but musically the star on MSB is saxophonist Rick Bell. He plays his heart out throughout. It's a wonder his lungs didn't collapse and his cheeks didn't split open. MSB was the last album for lead guitarist Gary Markasky. The band only had two Top 40 hits and a small handful of other singles that cracked Billboard's Hot 100, and MSB includes two of the latter: Raleigh's pleasant pop/rock number "When I'm Holding You Tight" and Stanley's subdued cautionary tale "Take the Time." The live favorite "In Between the Lines" is a terrific rocker with gritty lead vocals from Stanley and effective harmony vocals from Raleigh. Stanley's "Spanish Nights" is a delicately arranged story song about broken love set in Los Angeles. Raleigh's power ballad "One of Those Dreams" is enjoyable. The Razor & Tie CD bonus tracks "In Between the Lines (Live)" and "Fire in the Hole (Live)" were recorded at Cleveland's Blossom Music Center in August 1984 and were previously available on the band's rare live album, Fourth and Ten.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
The Michael Stanley Band — the pride of Cleveland, OH — released its final major-label album, You Can't Fight Fashion, in 1983. It's a shame this EMI America release was MSB's national swan song after nearly a decade of being on the verge of deserved widespread success. Once again, MSB was joined by a high-profile co-producer, and this time it was Bob Clearmountain. MSB's second and final Top 40 single, the singalong anthem rocker "My Town," is the most notable of several You Can't Fight Fashion highlights. (In the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes, vocalist/guitarist Stanley recalls how approximately 100 city-specific edits of "My Town" were made.) The album is a straightforward rock & roll platter as MSB surprisingly eschews ballads this time around. Lead guitarist Danny Powers joined for the album, just as the sun was beginning to set on MSB. Vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Raleigh's superbly catchy pop/rock number "Someone Like You" (Stanley's all-time favorite Raleigh song) actually charted on the low end of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. Stanley's excellent "Hard Time" is enhanced by subtle touches of early-'80s keyboard sounds. Tenor saxophonist Rick Bell is featured prominently on You Can't Fight Fashion, especially on "Highlife." "The Damage Is Done" is another pop/rock gem from Raleigh. Stanley's scrappy, aggressive rocker "Fire in the Hole" is a story song about a mining disaster. The 1992 Razor & Tie CD reissue includes "My Town (Live)" and "Someone Like You (Live)," which were both recorded at Blossom Music Center near Cleveland in August 1984; the songs were originally found on the Michael Stanley Band's rare, independently released live album Fourth and Ten.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
INSIDE MOVES was MSB's last studio album and was originally released on vinyl only on a regional basis. The nine original tracks have been augmented by five previously un-released offerings including "Hard Die The Heroes," a hard to find track which was done for the Cleveland Browns video "Masters of the Gridiron". In it's present form Michael Stanley has said it is one of his all-time favorite MSB albums. If you don't have INSIDE MOVES, your MSB collection just isn't complete!c When downloading you will have the option to download the high quality MP3 files (320 kbps) or the full wav files
Coming Up for Air features 13 songs, a reliable balance of hearty rockers and tender ballads that Stanley and other Midwestern rockers like Bob Seger are known for. Former MSB members, like keyboardist/co-producer Bob Pelander, guitarist Danny Powers, and drummer Tommy Dobeck, assist Stanley on the album. "After Hollywood" has a light, irresistible melody and chorus. "Coming Up for Air" is a major surprise because it's an atmospheric blend of haunting new age and progressive rock; Stanley was inspired to write the song after suffering a premature heart attack. Stanley's canon includes songs attacking the music industry, and "Poison Pen" is a bitter, somewhat funky rebuke of music critics. Humor and innuendo abound in "Sendaway Underwear," an organ- and horns-driven tribute to mail-order lingerie. "Everybody" is a tough, gritty examination of social problems; Stanley and Sasha push each other vocally with terrific results. Smooth, saxophone-laced R&B; is a major influence on "Complicated," one of the catchiest tunes on the album. Stanley's sense of humor rises again on the terrifically cheeky rocker "Horizontal Mambo," a self-explanatory ode to you-know-what. At times, Stanley exercises too much self-restraint when it comes to his vocals, but Coming Up for Air still helps him maintain a consistent level of career-long quality that most other musicians can only dream about. The enhanced, multimedia CD includes many extras that highlight Stanley's career.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
This is the 1998 release of Michael Stanley acoustic shows. This 2-CD, 30-song set was, for the most part, recorded at the Tangiers Nightclub in Akron, Ohio. Recorded with The Resonators, "Tangiers" features twenty-two Michael Stanley/MSB/Ghost Poets standards, interpretations of six songs by some of Michael's favorite writers, and two brand new songs. Michael said that this project was "a chance to strip the tunes down and see where they came from." All in all, it's a unique look at another side of Michael Stanley and his music.
Here it is, the Line Level re-release of MSB's 1984 locally released vinyl offering, Fourth And Ten. At the time, the lineup consisted of Michael Stanley, Bob Pelander, Danny Powers, Tommy Dobeck, Kevin Raleigh, and Michael Gismondi and this "wall-of-sound" live recording was recorded during a multiple-night stand at Northern Ohio's Blossom Music Center. Besides the eight original live cuts this re-release features five bonus cuts: the original writer's demos of four tunes that ended up on the MSB album and one never before heard tune of Michael's. Enjoy!
This was the first of two "hits" compilations that were released and features tracks from MSB's tenure with Epic, Arista and EMI... Also included are the original versions of "Rosewood Bitters" AND "Let's Get the Show on the Road" from Michael Stanley's first two solo albums as well as track by track notes from Michael.
Produced by Michael Stanley and mixed by legendary producer Bill Szymczyk (The Eagles, The Who, Joe Walsh, The J.Geils Band), "THE GROUND" features ten new Michael Stanley originals and covers of songs by Bill Deasy (The Gathering Field) and Charlie Sexton (Arc Angels, Bob Dylan). Featuring all the members of The Resonators, THE GROUND is destined to become one of your favorite Michael Stanley Albums!
"The songs are like short stories set to music. The Ground is full of the songwriting ju-ju that got me excited about music in the first place... Song for song, this is Midwestern, white-boy rock at it's finest."
Michael Heaton / Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland Free Times
"The subjects he chooses to write about are deeply relevant to us all... it's rock at its best, a perfect blend of inspirational lyrics and music"
Cosmik Debris Magazine
You wanted it, you got it: The Farrago Sessions. Taking a break from working on a new album of original tunes (which should be your way next summer), Michael Stanley has just brought us his new album featuring fourteen tunes by other songwriters.
From the opening thunder of his take on Leon Russell's "Stranger In A Strange Land" to the pensive closer, Jesse Winchester's "A Showman's Life", we think you'll be amazed at his reworking of some of your longtime favorites and turned on to some gems that slipped by almost everyone their first time around. The album features contributions by members of Michael's longtime musical compatriots The Resonators and The Midlife Chryslers and was mixed by legendary producer/engineer Bill Szymczyk (The Eagles, The Who, Joe Walsh, Santana, B. B. King, The J. Giels Band and countless others).
The Farrago Sessions: Michael Stanley's interpretations of fourteen classic tunes. His musical journey continues and we think it's a trip you're going to want to be on!
Michael Stanley returns with possibly his best effort to date. For any artist to perform as well as the music presented on this CD would be an achievement but for someone who has done it all, like Mike, this is particularly inspiring. From the opening cut, "Nothing and Everything to Prove" to other rock nuggets like "American Road," "Wake 'Em Up" and "Vicodin and Prayer" to the radio friendly single "What Would Frank Do" cross referencing the wisdom of acting like Sinatra, Stanley has created a thoroughly enjoyable disc.
The new century saw a new solo album from Michael Stanley, again featuring a list of long time musical partners contributing their talents. “No Love Songs" starts the album off with a very casual vocal, and a story about a couple that meets in a roadhouse and decide "Tonight I'm Gonna Have Some Fun".
A very unique take on the Beatles’ "Eleanor Rigby" gets taken to another level, thanks to Jennifer Lee, throwing herself in to the ‘psychotic Enya vibe' on the background vocals. "Any Other Fool" is a return of the Stanley /Pelander songwriting team, and a beautiful ballad. "The Devil Came To Freemont Street" is a country-flavored tune about how things might have gotten started in Las Vegas, and features violin from Ed Caner and mandolin from Marc Lee Shannon. The real scorcher of the album comes in the form of a "Lust Song" called "High Time" which features some smoking guitar from Danny Powers. Hang on after the last track for the 'hidden bonus" of an accapella gem, "Life's Railway To Heaven" featuring Stanley and Jennifer Lee.
"The Michael Stanley Band's live album Stagepass is a fine example of the no-frills rock & roll concert experience. Fitting on one CD, the Cleveland quintet recorded this double album over three consecutive nights in October 1976 at their hometown's old Agora Ballroom, which was destroyed by a fire a few years later. Five of the songs on Stagepass are new. The band was working on a studio album at the time, but in the liner notes of the 1992 compilation Right Back at Ya (1971-1983), Stanley says Epic Records wanted a live album to capitalize on the phenomenal success of Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive!.
Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
Samples of the entire album
Songs on this album are:
1. Midwest Midnight - 6:08
2. One Good Reason - 5:50
3. Real Good Time - 4:47
4. Nothing's Gonna Change My Mind - 4:18
5. Calcutta Auction - 5:09
6. Movin' Right Along - 9:35
7. Will You Love Me Tomorrow - 4:41
8. Waste a Little Time on Me - 3:52
9. Pierette - 3:27
10. Rosewood Bitters - 5:03
11. Wild Sanctuary - 4:21
12. Let's Get the Show on the Road - 8:20
13. Strike up the Band - 5:05
Recorded over a three night stand in August of 1981 at Blossom Music Center on Richfield, Ohio during the "North Coast" tour, this is a DVD release of what has, over the years, been referred to as the "Sony" video. It now contains a new intro from Michael, backstage and sound check footage plus full live versions of:
IN THE HEARTLAND
I'LL NEVER NEED ANYONE MORE
WE CAN MAKE IT
WHEN YOUR HEART SAYS ITS RIGHT
HEAVEN AND HELL
DON'T YOU DO THAT TO ME
SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT
DON'T STOP THE MUSIC
HE CAN'T LOVE YOU
LET'S HEAR IT
Also included are the the music videos:
HE CAN'T LOVE YOU
TAKE THE TIME
The 13 songs on The Ghost Poets comprise a rare thing: rich, mature rock & roll for adults. The gently haunting “Darkness, Darkness" is a Youngbloods song from 1969. Stanley and Pelander's tune “Liars' Moon" is a terrific, sassy rocker given a shot of attitude by Lee and guest vocalist Sasha. “Casanova" is a charming, rock-flavored cover of the 1987 hit by R&B; group and fellow Clevelanders Levert. Stanley's superb and sarcastically catchy “Broken Radio" is another one of his bitter, anti-music-biz rock songs. Country-rock on The Ghost Poets is represented by Stanley's “Somewhere Over Paris" and Koslen's excellent “I Will Not Be Denied." Stanley and Lee turn “Why Should Love Be This Way," an old MSB tune from 1978, into a stripped down duet ballad with essentially just Pelander's piano providing accompaniment. Koslen shows his gift for writing and singing breezy pop/rock on “The Promise." It's a shame that the Ghost Poets didn't continue.
— Bret Adams - AllMusicGuide.com
Songs on this album are:
1. Darkness, Darkness (Young) - 3:35
2. Everything (Pelander/Stanley) - 5:26
3. Liars' Moon (Pelander/Stanley) - 5:43
4. Oh Jessi (Koslen) - 2:39
5. Casanova (Calloway) - 4:27
6. Broken Radio (Stanley) - 2:57
7. Two Hearts (Koslen) - 3:21
8. Somewhere over Paris (Stanley) - 5:27
9. I Will Not Be Denied (Koslen) - 3:06
10. Why Should Love Be This Way (Pelander/Stanley) - 4:04
11. The Promise (Koslen) - 2:41
12. Sights on You (Juliet of the Spirit) (Koslen) - 3:40
13. Since You've Been Gone (Stanley) - 4:13
Recorded live in Cleveland at the Odeon Concert Club on New Years Eve, 1999. This CD was originally only available to those who attended the concert, but the we have recently uncovered a stash of this highly collectable offering. This is a non-jewel box release and will be shipped in its original cardboard sleeve. Quantities are limited so when they're gone, they're gone!
Songs on this album are:
2. Midwest Midnight
3. In the Heartland
4. Broken Radio
5. Unchained Melody/Falling in Love Again
6. In Between the Lines
7. Red House
8. Working Again
9. Sendaway Underwear
"MSB-TV" contains The Michael Stanley Band's two television specials. "STAGEPASS", first aired in 1979 and contains interviews and live performances recorded at the legendary Cleveland Agora.
"MSB CONFIDENTIAL" was originally aired in 2001 and is a comprehensive look back at the band's career. Along with live performances and archival footage are extensive interviews with Michael Stanley, Bob Pelander, Tommy Dobeck, Kevn Raleigh, Michael Gismondi, Danny Powers, Jonah Koslen, Daniel Pecchio, Gary Markasy and others as they look back over MSB's long career.
The DVD also contains a new introduction from Michael Stanley.
Born on March 25, 1948, in Cleveland, Ohio, Michael Stanley Gee's early musical inclinations, as a Rocky River High School student, were typical of most teen boys in a 'garage band': "It was just something that was fun to do," Michael Stanley recalled, in a 1981 'TEEN Magazine interview, "It was a good way to pick up some quick money and meet some girls."
In 1965, the proverbial 'first' band was one called the 'Scepters'. Things became more serious, musically, when Michael joined the 'Tree Stumps', and a single was released, "Listen To Love". By 1969, Michael was a student at Hiram College, working on his Bachelor of Arts degree, and the Tree Stumps had become 'Silk', a locally-popular folk group that had advanced into the recording studio and produced an LP, "Smooth As Raw Silk"...
At a point when the band was on the verge of breaking up, they were asked to play a local Cleveland hotspotand they took the gig with the idea that they could, at the very least, 'go out on top'...
New York record producer, Bill Szymczyk, was in the audience that night, and was impressed; a record contract followed...
Michael had continued working his 'day job' at Disc Records, having by then become the Regional Manager, in charge of stores in 12 states, AND married--with two infant, twin daughters, Sarah and Anna. For two years, he juggled his time between the studio, work and family at a somewhat leisurely pace, judiciously using several weeks of vacation time a year to record both his debut, "Michael Stanley", and second LP, "Friends & Legends"...
Further supplementing his creative zen, he had also begun collaborating with two area musicians, Daniel Pecchio and Jonah Koslen, with the newly formed trio playing Stanley's solo songs as well as new material.
In 1973, Michael and his boss had a dispute that resulted in disaster: he was fired. With a new family, new car--and no job--Michael was momentarily 'stranded'. By now a close friend, Joe Walsh (another Cleveland area musician, who had joined Michael in the studio on both LP's) suggested Michael either 'give it (music) his all' or get out--no 'half-efforts' were going to suffice. It was a turning point for Michael, and one where he finally saw music as his lifeblood, deciding to consider it a full-time pursuit.
Michael's decision to 'hang tough' with the music, along with prodding from Pecchio and Koslen, became the catalyst that brought in drummer Tommy Dobeck, and the Michael Stanley Band came into being...
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From the mid 70's to the mid 80's, the Michael Stanley Band enjoyed a strong and fiercely loyal following, touring with some of the superstar bands of that period (including Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Foreigner and The Doobie Brothers); there were several Top-20 and Top-30 hits, among them "He Can't Love You" in 1980 and "My Town" in 1983, but it seemed the 'one great hit' never came--the kind of chartbuster that saw acts like Bob Seger, Bryan Adams, John Cougar (now Mellencamp), make their names and hometowns, literally, household words...
In late 1982, MSB released what would be their final album for EMI: "You Can't Fight Fashion". The single, "My Town", had made it to 29 on Billboard Magazine's charts, sales were good, and the band was on tour, when EMI stunned the band by offering them an 'extension', rather than a contract renewal with a long-term financial comittment. When Michael confidently 'called their bluff', their label pulled the plug, halting promotion and tour-backing immediately.
Although it was a financial blow that staggered the band, they gamely continued performing venues in the Northern Ohio and midwest circuit, producing two independent releases, 1983's "Inside Moves", and "Fourth And Ten" in 1984 (recorded live at Blossom Music Center--a two nighter that saw the venue's all-time attendance records shattered), before formally disbanding in late 1986, shortly after performing nine 'farewell' concerts at Cleveland's Front Row...
"...We broke up not because we didn't like each other, but because we couldn't survive. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. It was like a group divorce," Michael Stanley would later recall, to Cleveland Magazine in a July, 1994 interview.
"After we did the last show with the band in December, 1987 (the Front Row Club "farewell" shows), I didn't touch a guitar for six months," Michael Stanley said in a 1992 interview, "...I wanted to walk away from it for awhile. I thought, 'Yeah, I'll stop for a little bit, come back and it'll be like turning on the faucet.' It was the total opposite. It was like writer's block for a long, long time."
In late 1991, the 'block' fell away...
Not surprisingly, Michael's 'post-MSB' years found him still working in the Cleveland-area entertainment spotlight: he served as co-host of WJW-Channel 8's "Cleveland Tonight" and "P.M. Magazine", 'til they were cancelled, and later as a weekly featured reporter for TV8's "First Look". It was only natural he'd find music calling him again, and he overlapped his television career with a new one in radio broadcasting--as afternoon disc jockey and on-air personality at Cleveland's WNCX 98.5...
Coming Up For Air...
In December, 1991, during a Las Vegas vacation, Michael suffered a heart attack. The near-tragedy resulted in Michael's re-evaluation of his life and career, and, with renewed determination and perspective, he began building a life of balance, exploring new interests while rediscovering old ones. He 'settled in', buying Chagrin Falls acreage, and lent his support to a number of good causes and charitable projects. Former Ohio native and MSB-fan, Razor & Tie Records' Cliff Chenfield, had contacted him, and the 'compilation' release they had discussed, "Right Back At Ya", was released in February, 1992, leading to a following decision to 're-issue' the entire Michael Stanley catalog. Michael remarked, in a 1994 Cleveland Magazine interview, "After a six-year draught, we had eight albums out one year and four the next. I finally got to have a copy of everything we'd done."
In 1993, Michael reunited with Jonah Koslen, Bob Pelander and Jennifer Lee (an area singer whose vocals had contributed to many MSB studio projects and concert appearances) to form The Ghost Poets. With the MSB reissues selling so well, Cliff Chenfield decided to release the group's eponymously-titled "The Ghost Poets" through Razor & Tie Records in 1994. Sales that followed were good, but local airplay was difficult--a Cleveland 'blackout' had resulted, as many radio stations viewed Michael Stanley--WNCX's highly-visible personality--as a competitor. The Ghost Poets continued to perform for a little over a year after the release, when a decision was made to disband the effort, and move on...
Following the quiet disbanding of The Ghost Poets, Michael went into the studio with another set of former MSB bandmates--including Bob Pelander, drummer Tommy Dobeck, bassist Michael Gismondi and guitarist Danny Powers--and recorded his first 'solo' endeavor since 1973's "Friends & Legends".
"Coming Up For Air", a quiet, intensely emotional and introspective album that centered around the title track--Stanley's chilling reliving of his recent heart attack--was released through Intersound Music (now Platinum Entertainment) on February 27, 1996.
"Though declaring a 1994 Blossom 'MSB reunion' concert as the 'final' one, Michael Stanley continued to perform with several long-time friends and former band members in and around the Cleveland area, billed as 'Michael Stanley & Friends'. Not surprisingly, his solo work led him to a decidedly 'acoustic' approach: in April, 1997, a two-nighter at Akron's Tangiers was duly recorded, and released by Razor & Tie Records as "Live In Tangiers: The Acoustic Shows" on June 3, 1998...
The release was received warmly by his fans and new converts alike, and the following 2 years were ones spent engaged in work on his next studio release. On June 6, 2000, of "Eighteen Down": elegantly titled (as an eighteenth album -- nineteen if one includes his debut endeavor with Silk, "Smooth As Raw Silk" -- spanning a musical career of over three decades) and brimming with new songs that both rocked with heartland spirit and embraced an oftimes-reflective maturity. Again, many familiar names joined Michael Stanley in the creation of that effort. (for MORE on "Eighteen Down", click here.)
The following year saw Michael maintaining a busy schedule of work at WNCX, 'Friends' appearances and creative time in the studio mulling his next move. All was right in the world...
September 11, 2001, changed a lot of lives, and Michael was no exception. Tragedy has long inspired art, perhaps as a memorial to loss, grief and change. And, in the process, we are tutored as to what is really 'right in the world', and made stronger by the realization. It was a muse that would lead Stanley to pen new material that reflected this, to cherish family and embrace friends.
By now, "Michael Stanley & The Resonators" had become the band's performing moniker, and they were pleasing their loyal MSB fans while winning over new ones, with a setlist of old favorites and clever covers interspersed with fresh originals...
Not long after, a gumbo of Cleveland talent began rocking the Northcoast music scene as "The Midlife Chryslers", composed of musical alumni of the Resonators, MSB, The TopKats, My Old School, Jonah Koslen and the Gentleman Rockers, Wish You Were Here and more...
It was during this storm of creative activity that Michael somehow found the time to hit the studio and begin work on what is now his most recent work, "The Ground", to release on October 21, 2003. Michael continues to man the airwaves as afternoon 'drive-time' personality at Cleveland's popular WNCX, while performing with "The Resonators" and "Midlife Chryslers" throughout Ohio...
The pace shows no signs of letting up...
As Michael Stanley walks into the downtown Winking Lizard, he's greeted by a super fan who acknowledges that when he had his 12-night farewell run at the old Front Row Theatre, she attended 7 of the shows. "There's no accounting for taste," Stanley laughs in response. Currently the afternoon drive DJ on WNCX, Stanley can't fill venues like he once did when heartland rockers the Michael Stanley Band were big. And yet, he's kept at it with a backing band he calls the Resonators; his new self-released album, The Ride, comes on the heels of last year's The Hang, an introspective album he's referred to as his darkest release yet. Stanley's not touring in support of the album but he is playing two shows this weekend and next weekend at the Tangier in Akron. Over a quick lunch at the Lizard, he talked about those shows and about what it's been like to release albums without the backing of a major label.
A four-night run at the Tangier is rather ambitious.
What do you have planned for the shows?
You have to give them the ones they want every night. There are a bunch of swing songs and we'll do a couple of those each night. It breaks up the shows in case someone gets pissed off and hears a song we didn't do the night before. It also keeps the band on their toes, too. It's a nice problem to have that this far down the line there are so many fricking things to pull from. You want the audience to get what they came for but you have to keep the musicians engaged and keep yourself interested. My audience has been good about letting me move on as long as they get a certain amount of things. We'll do two or three things from the new album and see how that goes. You never know until you get out there and play them.
You essentially became an indie artist in the early 2000s when you left Razor and Tie. Talk about what that's been like.
It's weird for me having grown up in the label setting which doesn't exist anymore. There are pluses and minuses. I don't have anyone telling me what to do, but I also don't have a large distribution system behind me or a marketing squad. The Net gives you a certain amount of freedom. Everyone can find you. There are so many choices. The question is, who are people looking for? I like the idea of being able to do what I want. Since it's not my main livelihood, there's no pressure to have a hit album, whatever that is nowadays. I see the numbers of someone who has a No.1 album and in the old days that would have been No. 50.
Were there more good bands playing rock 'n' roll when you started?
Artists development didn't have much to do with developing artists. Those guys had no idea what was going on. That was the place where someone's brother-in-law got a gig. There were a few guys who were great, guys like [Cleveland International Records'] Steve Popovich. They were music people.
Who's your favorite Cleveland rock band of all time?
I would have to say the James Gang, although I'm a huge Raspberries fan too. There were a lot of good bands. Early on, there were good horn bands. It's been a great town for musicians.
What's your favorite Springsteen memory?
I'm a big Springsteen fan but I didn't want to meet him because I didn't want him to be a jerk. I've met enough people like that. I didn't want to meet Bruce and burst the bubble. Somebody who worked for [the local promoter] Belkin at the time around the Darkness tour or the River tour said I needed to meet Bruce. They took me backstage on some made-up thing and stuck me in his room. It was a dressing room. This was after the show and he played like three and half hours. There was a boombox going full blast playing the Ronettes, which I love. Bruce came out of the shower singing at the top of his lungs to the boombox after he had just been out there for 3 1/2 hours. He was very cool. We had a brief encounter but never passed paths again. It didn't blow it for me. That was at the Richfield Coliseum.
The Michael Stanley Band broke up in 1987. Talk about what broke up the band and how you've managed to stay on such good terms.
We broke up in January of 1987. It was an economic thing. We had lost our label 1 1/2 years before due to a run-in I had with someone at the label. At that point, if you didn't have a label, it was hard to keep going. We kept it together for about a year and a half. I had 15 people on the payroll and couldn't pay everyone and they all had families and houses. I thought, "If we're going to go out, I want to go out while we are still big." I didn't want to do that. Everyone thinks that we all hated each other but it was never that.
Your solo material has been more introspective. How well does that material fit with the MSB classics?
I think it's a growth. Early on, there was tremendous pressure to have a hit single, unless you were Zeppelin or somebody. We were thinking of what they would play on the radio. Once that was taken away, I could do whatever I wanted to. I like pop music so that wasn't foreign to me. At the same time, I'm not terribly focused. If I want to rock today, I'll rock. If I want to make acoustic music, I'll make acoustic music. I can do whatever the hell I want.
You don't have the luxury to play what you want on WNCX. Talk about some of the artists you would play if you could play anything.
It would be pretty eclectic. You would hear Joni Mitchell and AC/DC in the same day. That's a big jump. There's a lot of stuff I like and a lot of stuff that doesn't get much exposure. I like Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt and Bonnie Raitt. Who plays them? I gave up fighting about playlists because it is what it is. You might not think it if you live here, but I can't tell you how many people tell us that we're wide open and that they would never hear Alex Harvey or Todd Rundgren or old Genesis. [Program director] Bill Louis has done a good job of making it across the board and giving it some depth.
Do your kids introduce you to new bands?
Yeah, they do. One of my daughters seems to have a good grip on what I like. One of the bands was Lifehouse. I really, really like them. They make great records.
Cleveland has a reputation as a great rock 'n' roll town. Is it still a great rock 'n' roll town?
I think in a lot of respects it is. The part that was its strongest suit was that it was a trendsetting market instead of a following market. I don't think that's here anymore but I don't know if that exists anywhere anymore.
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