"And this nine to five is just killing time
And hour by hour trying not to lose my mind
I know from time to time girl I lose my waySo I just had to call you From the heartland tonight"
-from "Rock Me Easy"-the Michael Stanley Band 1986
These lyrics kind of sum up what the Michael Stanley Band were about. Working hard, living in the "heartland", and trying to find some love as a refuge from the daily grind.
The music wasn't really about changing "the" world, it was more about changing "your" world.
When I describe Michael Stanley to people, My quick answer is that he is "Cleveland's Bruce Springsteen". That is not really a fair description to either man, but it gives people a feel for what the music might sound like. You could also probably say he was a cross between Springsteen and Bryan Adams.
The band did muster 2 Top 40 hits that were also Mtv staples "He Can't Love You" and "My Town".
Stanley's first solo album came out in 1973. He shared a producer, Bill Szymczyk, with Joe Walsh who appeared on the album. (The men have remained friends and occasionally played together over the years.)
"Rosewood Bitters" was the featured song from that album and Walsh himself did a great version on his "Confessor" in 1986.
1975 saw the formation of a full "Michael Stanley Band". Jonah Koslen was his musical foil or compadre in this lineup. Koslen also contributed and sang some of the songs.
the live "Stage Pass" album is thought to be a good representation of this lineup.
In 1978 singer, songwriter, keyboardist Kevin Raleigh joined the band. This was really a turning point. Kevin was a good writer and had the more "radio-friendly" voice. It was wise of Stanley to allow him to be such a big contributor. Kevin wrote and sang their biggest hit "He Can't Love You" an early Mtv favorite from their 1980 album "Heartland",. Clarence Clemons even appeared on the album.
Back when videos were fun and people didn't take them so seriously.
"He Can't Love You"
Here's a good collection of interviews that cover the band up to this point
Michael Stanley Band - I'll Never need anyone more
The album "North Coast" saw a continuation in the pursuit of a more commercial sound.
another strong Kevin Raleigh song
"When Your Heart Says it's right"
if you are ever nostalgic for your younger days, this one is for you..
"Somewhere in the Night"
1982 saw the release of "MSB featuring another commercial song by Kevin Raleigh.
"When I'm Holding You Tight"
In late 1983 the band would release their last major label album. EMI Records seemed to support it with good advertising and promotion. World renown producer/mixer Bob Clearmountain co-produced the album "You Can't Fight Fashion".
This was the bands shot at the "Bigtime".
The first single "My Town", hit the top 40. The band did a clever thing and overdubbed different backing vocals for different cities and markets and sent those versions out to radio.
For instance the version they played on our local rock station here in Baltimore, The band would sing "this town is my town" and then yell/sing "Baltimore". They did the same for Boston, Cleveland, etc.
Pretty shrewd marketing.
The whole album is an excellent example of 80's melodic rock/AOR (album oriented rock). It was their highest charting and most fully realized release. Unfortunately it didn't do well enough for EMI to keep them, but it had some great songs.
Kevin Raleigh turned in two fantastic AOR songs:
The "regular joe's" plea:
"I ain't no winner-- I'm no 'miracle-come-true' But I've waited so long now, baby-- For someone like you.."
"Someone Like You"
and the aftermath of being on the "losing end" of a relationship..
"The damage is done How I cried over losing you You took so much of me Tried to get to see what you put me through The things that I thought were true They meant more to me than you..."