MICHAEL STANLEY DISCOGRAPHY
For lyrics to any Michael Stanley song, go to: http://home.roadrunner.com/~staryjo/LyricsSite/index.html
- "Smooth As Raw Silk" - The band was called Silk, and featured a young man named Michael (Stanley) Gee.
Silk was actually on the verge of breaking up when they were offered a gig they couldn't refuse, and they figured they could at least go out on top. Bill Szymczyk was sent from New York to Cleveland to find talent. He found two groups, the James Gang (with Joe Walsh) and Silk (with Michael Gee). He was impressed enough from their live gig to offer a record contract, and the result was "Smooth As Raw ". In Tunes like "Not A Whole Lot I Can Do", "Walk In My Mind" and "Come On Down Girl" (the first tune that he ever heard on the radio), we get a glimpse of what was to come.
Although the album sounds a bit "dated" now, it still plays an important part in the musical legacy of Michael Stanley.
- "Michael Stanley" - Sometimes referred to as "The Blue Album" or even "Rosewood Bitters", this self-titled debut album was once the "Holy Grail" of Michael Stanley recordings. Long out of print by the early 80's, fans poured through used record bins hoping against hope they could find a hidden copy to snatch up for their own. Thankfully, the digital age has taken care of that problem, as first Razor & Tie in the 90's, and now Line Level Music have released not only this album, but also the entire MS/MSB catalog on CD.
If you think this album is only about the "first song on the first side" (Rosewood Bitters), you are missing a great album. Filled with both moody ballads like "Louisville A.D." and "Song for a Friend Soon Gone", as well as up-tempo tunes such as "Rock and Roll Man" and the live classic "Movin' Right Along", this is the album that started the whole ride.
Produced and engineered by the legendary Bill Szymczyk and featuring performances by Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Joe Vitale and Patti Austin, to name a few.
A FRIEND AND NOTHING MORE
ROCK AND ROLL MAN
MOVING RIGHT ALONG
GOOD TIME CHARLIE
SONG FOR A FRIEND
- "Friends and Legends" - The follow up to "Michael Stanley" had a similar style musically, but with much brighter themes and happier lyrics. "Among My Friends Again", "Yours For A Song", and "Just Keep Playing Your Radio", as well as the group jam on "Funky is the Drummer" showcase the fun in the studio. Not to worry, you serious folks get a good dose too, with the album closer "Poets Day", and the ultra classic live staple "Let's Get The Show On The Road”, which is still played to thunderous applause at every show.
An even bigger cast of "Friends and Legends" contributed to this album, including Joe Walsh, Paul Harris, Joe Vitale, Joe Lala, Kenny Passarelli and David Sanborn, with background vocals from Dan Fogelberg and Richie Furay again, produced and engineered by Bill Szymczyk.
AMONG MY FRIENDS AGAIN
YOURS FOR A SONG
LET'S GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD
FUNKY IS THE DRUMMER
(Featuring The Paul Harris Explosion)
- was a time of transition for Stanley, who started the year as a solo artist making albums while on vacation from his "real" job. The first transition was to add another guitar player, Jonah Koslen, a high school friend of manager David Spero. Once Michael and Jonah got together, they turned their attention to adding bass player Daniel Pecchio from Glass Harp (a group from Youngstown, Ohio who had recorded three albums for Decca and featured guitar virtuoso, Phil Keaggy). The three men performed together as an acoustic trio in April, still billed simply as "Michael Stanley”.
During the summer, the decision was made to "get a drummer, plug in and
rock out." The drummer of choice was Tommy Dobeck from the band Circus.
The running joke has always been that Tommy never actually said "yes"
to playing with the band, but he apparently kept showing up for
rehearsals and on September 2, 1974, the "Michael Stanley Band" was
born at a performance at the Cleveland Agora - a venue that would
figure very prominently in the band’s
future. The end of the year found the band heading to Miami, FL, to record their
first album for Epic Records.
- "You Break It You Bought It" - The first track "I'm Gonna Love You" served notice that the Michael Stanley Band was here to rock. Driving drums and bass, great harmonies and a nice guitar solo on the "fade" make this the perfect tune to kick off the album. Other rockers include "Face The Music", "Highway Angel", and "Lost In The Funhouse" which was the first home to Tommy Dobeck's drum solo in concert. Balanced by a few beautiful ballads like "Dancing In The Dark", Jonah's hit single 'Waste A Little Time On Me", "Sweet Refrain", and the album closer "Where Have All The Clowns Gone"/ “Song For My Children", this album was the perfect introduction to the Michael Stanley Band. Paul Harris again lent his talent on keyboards and the project was produced by Bill Szymczyk.
I'M GONNA LOVE YOU
DANCING IN THE DARK
STEP THE WAY
WASTE A LITTLE TIME ON ME
LOST IN THE FUNHOUSE AGAIN
FACE THE MUSIC
WHERE HAVE ALL THE CLOWNS GONE
SONG FOR MY CHILDREN
- "Ladies Choice" - "Side one"... remember when you had to turn the record over? Well, side one hit you right in the face and just kept coming. The title track was something different, with a drum machine and a little "white boy reggae", followed by an all out assault from tunes like "Calcutta Auction", "One Good Reason" (which features some killer sax from David Sanborn), and of course "Strike Up The Band", which would become the show closer for what seemed like forever. Add in "Heavyweight" with monster organ from Seth Justman of the J.Geils Band and you might have the most rockin' album side in MSB history. "Side two"...flip the record over and a whole other world awaits. "Let It Slide", as Michael recalls in the CD reissue notes, was "inspired" by the Eagles tune "Already Gone".
Then we hear what this version of the band might have been best at: the trio of "Blue Jean Boy", "Old Dancin’ Fool", and "Edge Of The Sky" flow together as well as any three tunes could. "Love Hasn't Been Here", a song written by Michael for Dan Pecchio to sing, can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Finish up with the instrumental "Choice and Sanborn", pretty much an excuse for more sax work from David Sanborn, and you have a great album with a very cool cover (just where does that girl’s third arm come from?).
Following the release of the album, keyboardist Bob Pelander was added for the tour.
STRIKE UP THE BAND
ONE GOOD REASON
LET IT SLIDE
BLUE JEAN BOY
OLD DANCIN' FOOL
EDGE OF THE SKY
LOVE HASN'T BEEN HERE
CHOICE AND SANBORN
- "StagePass" - Recorded live at the Cleveland Agora over a rainy weekend in October of 1976. "A warm welcome please for Epic recording artists the Michael Stanley Band" - a warm welcome indeed. What started out as a studio album that was to be called "Basement Band" became one of the most loved live albums in Cleveland rock and roll history. A great mix of old -"Rosewood Bitters", "Moving Right Along", "One Good Reason" and new - "Midwest Midnight", "Real Good Time", "Wild Sanctuary" and “Nothings Gonna Change My Mind), StagePass is a party from beginning to end, finishing with the classic pair of "Let's Get The Show On The Road" and "Strike Up The Band". Like the back of the album jacket says: "MSB will make believers of you all."
About a year after recording "StagePass", lead guitarist Jonah Koslen would depart for a solo career, forming the band "Breathless" and recording two albums for EMI, then two more albums as "Jonah Koslen and the Heroes". (For a little insight into Jonah's decision to leave the band, check out a tune called "Wanted" from the "Aces" album).
Youngstown native, Gary Markasky was tabbed as the new lead guitarist and played his first show with the band in December of 1977. A three-song demo of "Misery Loves Company", " Why Should Love Be This Way", and "What‘cha Wanna Do Tonight" landed the band a contract with Arista Records, and it was off to Wales and London to record the next album.
(not available through Line Level Music)
- "Cabin Fever" - Might be called the most schizophrenic album in the MSB catalog. Quite a few different styles emerge on this one, starting with an all-time rocker, "Baby If You Wanna Dance", and another long-time concert favorite "Misery Loves Company". Then we are treated to the first of what would be many Stanley/Pelander compositions, "Why Should Love Be This Way", featuring a signature guitar solo from Gary Markasky. The story of this song has been told often - Arista boss Clive Davis did not like the original version, so the lead vocal and piano part were re-recorded. The original version is included on the CD re-issue. "Slip Away" and "Who's To Blame" just seem to flow together on the record and "What'cha Wanna Do Tonight" was always great live.
"Only A Dreamer" has a cool funky beat and some great keyboard and guitar. "Fool's Parade" was actually born back in 1974, and is presented here a bit updated with some excellent background vocals. "Late Show" winds up the festivities with lyrics about finding your adventures vicariously on late night TV.
The album was produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who was about to break out as one of rock’s most successful producers for his work with AC/DC, Billy Ocean, Def Leppard, Foreigner and Shania Twain.
Another shake-up in the band lineup followed Cabin Fever, which saw Kevin Raleigh added as another keyboard player for the tour, and Dan Pecchio leaving the band to be replaced on bass by Michael Gizmondi.
BABY IF YOU WANNA DANCE
LONG TIME (Looking For A Dream)
MISERY LOVES COMPANY
WHY SHOULD LOVE BE THIS WAY
WHO'S TO BLAME
WHAT'CHA WANNA DO TONIGHT
ONLY A DREAMER
WHY SHOULD LOVE BE THIS WAY (Alternate Version)
- "Greatest Hints" - MSB is now a six-piece rock band, with newly added members Kevin Raleigh and Michael Gizmondi, and apparently everyone had ample access to the percussion cabinet for this album. Michael called this his "Phil Spector Wall of Everything" period - "if it clanged or chimed... it's on there." The added percussion is nice, but what separates this album from previous efforts is the cohesive sound of the band, something Stanley has repeatedly attributed to the virtuosity of Michael Gizmondi on bass.
The next thing that jumps out at you are the background vocals of Kevin Raleigh. Hired as an extra keyboard player, it didn't take long to figure out he was much more than that. "Last Night" was the only song ever co-written by Raleigh/Stanley, and Kevin made major writing contributions with "Promises" and "Hold Your Fire".
"Beautiful Lies", "We're Not Strangers Anymore" and “Lights Out" further established the song writing team of Stanley/Pelander. A cover of the Supremes’ classic "Back In My Arms Again" features a great sax solo from Mr. Gizmondi, as does Stanley's "Down To The Wire".
It was produced by Harry Maslin, who had just finished David Bowie’s “Young Americans” album.
DON'T LEAD WITH YOUR LOVE
DOWN TO THE WIRE
NO TURNING BACK
BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN
HOLD YOUR FIRE
WE'RE NOT STRANGERS ANYMORE