The Job

Artist: Michael Stanley
Listenability Scale: 100%
Released By: Line Level Music
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Michael Stanley has been on a “The…” theme for the last few albums, going from “The Hang” to “The Ride” and now to “The Job,” his 10th solo album. Combine those ten with the thirteen albums from the Michael Stanley Band and if there was ever a story to be written of a man who loves to be a songwriter, and a songwriter whose progression of writing has shifted and grown over the years, I think Michael might make the best subject. Say what you will about the “local” versus national stardom Michael has always had, you can never say that the man doesn’t put his heart and soul into his writing and telling stories in his music, stories of challenges, of love, of sex, of work, of life.

Still rockin’ though with a slight country-rock sound to it, “The Job” opens with “Everything’s Fine,” which sure, has a line I find a little cheesy with the likes of “Everything’s fine, right up till it’s not,” but the song of danger and thrills of a woman on the loose is a fun way to set the stage for an album that will take you through excitement, challenges, and hope.

The title track brings a guitar-driven look at the career Michael has had, from buying a guitar because of Elvis to playing for a hundred thousand people underneath the stars. “One more night, one more show, but that’s the job.” That’s Michael’s job, but I think he loves it more than heading to Florida with a 401k.

There is some darkness on the album in the likes of “Breaking News,” with an acoustic guitar melody of loss and reflection, and “Dark Angels,” a ballad that musically reminds me of “Wasted Time” from the Eagles, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the likes of Bill Szymczyk handling Producer duties.

Michael does have some good times on the album, though with some hesitation, like the sensual and bluesy “Velvet Parkway” where he’s “Going down, down, down, down, down” and feeling her body start to sway, and “Taking the Long Way Around” where sometimes love takes awhile.

My favorites on the album, though, are the songs of hope, like “Maybe This is the Day,” up-tempo with a violin interlude that is something you don’t always hear on a Michael Stanley song, and a song I can’t get out of my head, “You Just Never Know,” opening with a bluesy feel and the lines “We’ve all got memories riding with us, That tell us where we’ve been,” continuing to the chorus of hope “If you feel you’re going under, you’ve got nothing left to bleed, everything has stole your thunder, and you find it hard to breath… Just gotta take the fight into the heart of another night, … ‘cuz you just never know.” Sometimes there is just a song that sticks with you on an album, and for me this is that song.

Another winner from Michael Stanley as far as I’m concerned, “The Job” might be dark at times but the mix of his guitar-driven rock sound, that “Eagles” vibe he’s always had, and a little more bluesy-ness makes this one stay on my “can always listen to” music rotation list. Great lyrics, fantastic solos and singing from the likes of The Resonators, and thirteen solid tracks that take you on a journey lead to 100% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale for “The Job.”

I sort of always hate writing reviews of Michael Stanley songs, mostly because in my head I hear his lines of criticism of reviewers (From Midwest Midnight “He was taken to task by some critic who asked,” a line that for the longest time I thought was “some critical ass…”, and from Poison Pen with “Those who can, do. Those that can’t, write about it.”), and here I am, writing about it. I suppose, though, Michael has more things to worry about than some “critical ass” doing a review because, as he puts it in “The Job,” “There are songs that still need to be written, there are songs that must get played,” and he is the man to do it, even it happens in a club around from the glory days.

That’s it for this one! I’m Andy!! L8R!!!

Do You Buy Any Music on CD Anymore?

Do you buy any music on CD anymore?

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The other day I get an email from one of my favorite music folks, Michael Stanley. Alright, it was technically from the record company releasing his music, Line Level, and it was announcing that Michael Stanley had a new CD coming out called “The Job,” and that I should get it now!

Sweet! Or so I thought.

I go to the link, and sure they have some mail order options to pay them money, and they’ll send me a CD, but I’m there looking for a link to iTunes, or at least Amazon, because, like the kids, I don’t have time to wait for new music, let alone want the trouble of paying online and waiting for a CD to arrive in my mailbox that the mailman might damage. No, I want my new Michael Stanley now!

Okay, no link. I’ll head directly to the sources. iTunes. Nope, no listing. Amazon. There it is! Wait, it references a CD available, but on a release date of May 6th?

Jumping over to the Michael Stanley message board there are people who seem to have gotten the CD, so right now it looks like the old-fashioned way is the only option of getting a new music fix, or trying to find someplace to download it illegally.

Now I’m sure there is some metric about the profitability of selling the CD yourself, via mail order, before releasing it on the digital platforms, and some folks still won’t put things out there on the digital realm (Garth Brooks – please, for the love of all things big and small, let me pay you more money to get clean, digital copies of your music), but alas, it looks like if I want to actually download some new Michael Stanley, it’s going to be a while.

It’s weird, because as the computer life is changing, and laptops aren’t coming with DVD slots anymore, let alone people who live by the tablet and smartphone only, it seems limiting to release things on CD only anymore. I know “The Job” will be on iTunes eventually because his other release have ended up there, I just hope Michael sends me an email letting me know so his new CD doesn’t become an afterthought. In the meantime, if he wants to send me one to review, I’ll be happy to listen to it in the car, I suppose, since that’s the only place I really have a CD player anymore.

Okay, this wonder was a little lengthy to get to it, but I wonder: Do you buy any music on CD anymore?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!!

The Soft Addictions

Artist: Michael Stanley
Listenability Scale: 95%
Released by: Line Level Music
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

First an intro… When I moved to Chicago in 1985, the Michael Stanley Band was still big in Cleveland, but for the most part no one I met in Chicago heard of them except for one dude who worked at the campus bowling alley and thought they rocked when they opened up, I believe he said, at a Foreigner concert he went to see. As the years have gone on I’ve seen the band break up, a side project of Ghost Poets, and then Michael Stanley sort of going solo yet still working with many of the same bandmates over the years. I would check out his website,, every now and then just to see if anything new had popped up (buying most of everything new or re-issued, and reviewing of few of them) because much like 1985, Michael doesn’t get many mentions here in Chi-Town. I say "many" because there is a talk radio dude here called Steve Dahl who every now and then likes to play "Midwest Midnight" because he likes the line about "that bandstand girl," and reminisces about the time MSB opened up for his band, and Steve still can’t figure out why because he thought the Michael Stanley Band was so much better than his band was.

In any case, I’ve been lax on checking out Michael Stanley’s website lately, and then I get a comment from some dude nicknamed "SOK" wondering what I thought about Michael Stanley’s latest, "The Soft Addictions." I had to reply back that I didn’t even realize there was a new CD out there, checked the web site, ordered one and yet got two copies (my bonus).

After having listened to "The Soft Addictions" for a while now, much like a lot of musicians that I’ve grown up with listening to, their sound sometimes gets a little bit more reflective, maybe even a little softer, but Michael Stanley shows he still rocks right off the bat with the "The Curves of Bratenahl," and heads right into the reflective, guitar-driven "Lovers Lane" about a couple growing old together, but sadly not that happily, though the bad times might all be worth it if they could get one more shot at that lover’s lane thing.

Okay, I’d better stop trying to analyze all of the songs on the CD right now, because, well, lots of people interpret lyrics differently, and I’m sure I’ll get something wrong, so lets just say "The Soft Addictions" continues showing Michael Stanley still has a great knack for using his lyrics to tell stories, paint pictures, and he uses it all by mixing up the music with things a little softer like "My Side of the Moment," getting bluesy on "Cadillac Man," almost gospelish on "When It’s Time to Dance Alone," and he doesn’t forget the guitar-rock sound that makes all of us, the instant we hear it, remember back a few years to when we were younger.

I always say I really don’t like doing CD reviews because it is so hard to tell someone if the music is any good because so many people listen to music in different ways, and even though I like Michael Stanley getting a little more reflective here, you just might wish he would put out another "North Coast." Concerts are easier to review because whether I like the show or not, in the end a concert is about pleasing the fans that paid to see it, even though, much to my continued dismay, somehow I keep missing covering Michael Stanley whenever I visit the old homestead. He usually puts on a show around Christmas-time in Cleveland, so maybe he’ll do the same and this year will be the time I finally see him on stage. Sorry, I digress.

In the end I really liked "The Soft Addictions," especially after a couple of plays (I have to admit the first go around I wasn’t paying total attention to the music and when the CD was done at first I thought "I guess it was okay"). Then I took it along for one of my weekend walks and listened to some of the lines in the songs (I loved the concept and thoughts of "Same Blood (Different Vein)"), caught a subtle nuance (like the beer can opening which made me chuckle) during "Drinkin’ In the Driveway" complete with lyrics perfectly painting the picture of the dude "Wearin’ an old Skynard Tank Top Two Sizes Small" and a great line of "Proud that he ain’t bought one damn thing since Floyd did The Wall," and found that my favorite song from the CD is the last official track, "No Rules When You Dream."

There is a bonus track on the CD, simply titled "Michael Stanley," and I’m assuming someone out there in internet land can help me out on exactly what it is because as I’m writing this on a Saturday, well, I can’t call Michael’s radio show, my Google searches only helped me find out what "Otto’s Grotto" is but not the identities of Loopy nor Crispy, and my final investigative avenue is a pending registration on the Michael Stanley message board where it might have been discussed. I thought it might be a portion of a track off of Michael’s first record, simply titled "Michael Stanley," except the commentary mentioned 40 years since Otto’s Grotto and the "Michael Stanley" record came out in 1973 when, sadly, I was only 6 and didn’t have the allowance to go record shopping yet!

Anyway, if you’ve grown up with Michael Stanley through the years, have purchased any of his later CD’s and liked them, I suggest you get yourself a copy of "The Soft Addictions." It’s got some rockin’, it’s got some rollin’, it’s got some reflectin’, and it has one of my new favoritist songs, "No Rules When You Dream." On the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale "The Soft Addictions" gets a solid 95%.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Dude Note: And the internet comes through! The bonus track portion, I have come to find out (Thanks Ann via e-mail and Dave from Akron via the Michael Stanley Message Forum), is from Michael’s first album in a band called "Silk" called "Walk in My Mind," and thanks to my getting approved to peruse the Message Forum (Thanks Shea!), I was even able to find out who Loopy and Crispy are. P.S. Go Tribe!

Coming Up for Air

Artist: Michael Stanley
Listenability Scale: 100%
Released by: It’s About Music
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

I grew up near Cleveland and at the time there was one group that ruled the airwaves. That group was the Michael Stanley Band. They could sell-out multiple dates at Blossom Music Center (one of the best outdoor venues I’ve ever been to), always seemed to have a lock on the radio airwaves, and basically just rocked. But, as huge as they were on the Northcoast, they could never break into the big-time in the national arena. They did some opening dates for a bunch of national acts, had a couple of top 40 hits, but just never could get over that hill. It was really too bad because the rest of the world doesn’t know what they were missing. Well, eventually the members of the band went their separate ways but Michael Stanley stayed active in the Cleveland area, did some local TV, local radio, and did some concerts as Michael Stanley and Friends. He even collaborated with some folks and made a new band called Ghost Poets, leaving some of his rock & roll roots behind for a little more mellow sound. Old MSB music was re-issued on CD’s, I snatched up most of them, but in my years I have always missed out on one thing and that is seeing Michael Stanley, with or without Band, live. From what I’ve been told it’s one hell of a show, but I’ve just never been able to make it. Well, enough of that ranting and raving, Michael Stanley has a new CD out, at least it was new to me, and he still re-affirms my belief that the rest of the world is missing one of the better musical talents of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Back in my place I tore the plastic off of the CD case, and popped it in my CD player. Looking at the credits I saw some familiar names in the likes of Bob Pelander, Tommy Dobeck, Danny Powers, and Jennifer Lee. I also cam to find that this CD was put out a while ago and I didn’t know it. Sometimes the best little surprises take time. So, I pop open a cold beverage, plop down at my computer, and do a little web-surfin’ while I listen. A few more listens and this is what I think.

Track # – Song Title – (Length)
1. After Hollywood (4:30)
Nice opener. I’m startin’ to dig the CD.

2. Coming Up for Air (6:35)
Reminds me of his work with Ghost Poets. It’s moody, a little jazzy. Not a rocker, but I like the voice distortion in the middle.

3. Poison Pen (4:52)
Another moody/jazzy song. Cool story.

4. Talking in Tongues (5:41)
Some of the lyrics go: "God’s between your thighs," "Talking in Tongues," and "He couldn’t find an inch of her he hadn’t memorized." Talk about "getting in the mood" music!

5. Sendaway Underwear (4:57)
A little more of a rocker and a unique twist on those slinky lingerie catalogs. If the sex life in your marriage has hit the pits, follow the advice of this song!

6. Everybody (5:22)
A song about society. Another up-tempo song, and I love the line "buy a dog you want a friend."

7. Wherever You Go (5:42)
A slower song, but one of my favorites on the CD.

8. Yesterday’s Eyes (5:11)
Another slower song, another message of things lost, but a cool song none-the-less.

9. Complicated (4:49)
Keeping with the slower tempo songs, Michael’s voice sounds great.

10. Just Between Friends (3:31)
The tempo is back up, and everyone needs them – friends that it.

11. Horizontal Mambo (4:33)
Mr. Stanley, where is your mind? First we’ve got thighs and tongues on "Talking in Tongues," and now, well, if you can’t figure out this song from the title you need, well, maybe you’re a little too young. Tempo is kept up, it’s a rocker reminiscent of some classic MSB, but I was sad to hear Janie is now into girls.

12. Sha-La-La-La (4:27)
My mind, in keeping with the theme of the last song, I hear a line like "you’ve always been a dancer and you always will" and I see ladies on fire-poles. Whether my theory is wrong or right (I tried to read into the lyrics, but they end up a little vague), it is a quirky little tune with a cool beat.

13. Terms of Surrender (4:12)
A nice love song. Another of my favorites.

In the end, and maybe my attitude is a little skewed because I’ve always been a big Michael Stanley Band/Ghost Poets/Michael as a solo dude fan, but Coming Up for Air ends up on one of my higher rotation CD’s. For me there isn’t one bad song on the CD, and that rates it a 100% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. If you liked Ghost Poets, you’ll probably like this CD, if you liked the Michael Stanley Band, you’ve probably grown up a little and will probably like this CD, and for those of you who have no clue who I’m talking about, hell, you might just like this CD too.

Michael Stanley, after all of these years, still has it. He has seemed to slow things down a little, and I guess he’s changed with the times, but he still has a great voice and puts forth some of the best lyrics out there. It’s kinda funny how nothing pulls back an image like a familiar voice, and Michael’s was one I heard singing many times while I was growing up. I’ve got some new music for some newer images, now if only I had an image of him in concert!

Well, that’s it for this one, I’m The Dude on the Right. L8R!!!

American Road

Artist: Michael Stanley
Listenability Scale: 92%
Released by: Line Level Music
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

There is something to be said about musical consistency, and although not as pop-driven as he once was when he was with Band, Michael Stanley just consistently puts out music that brings me instantly back to growing up on the north coast, in a steel and auto town called Lorain, Ohio, and still loving that Midwestern rock that I still know all of the words to.
The latest offering from Michael Stanley is titled "American Road," and if you’ve ever heard anything by Michael Stanley, or the Michael Stanley Band, there will be familiarity with the sound, but he still does his best to keep things fresh. The CD opens with "Nothing and Everything to Prove," a guitar-driven rocker that quickly reminds you of the sound of Michael Stanley. The title track "American Road" takes us on the trail out west, and there’s lots of reminiscing in "The Times We Had." But Michael stretches things a little, grooving it up some with the eternal questions "What Would Frank Do," an ode to Frank Sinatra and what he would do when closing time comes around, and even gets some bluesy stuff going with "Backing Up Sally G," one of the funnest songs on the CD. I’m still trying to figure out the lyrics a tad, because one would think with the song title, and his singing about being a in a band at a bar, that Sally G. were the lead singer of this band, but with lyrics like "And then Sally hits the stage, all I can do is stare, she’s got legs that go forever, and a world-class derrière," "And now she’s down to nothing, and I just forgot my name," and finally "And I swear my friend for just one night, I’d die a happy man, ‘cause the girl can pick up dollar bills, and never use her hands…". With that I’m now assuming Sally G. is a stripper, but I have yet to be in a Gentlemen’s Club with a band, but I suppose they might be out there somewhere.

Probably the most commercial sounding song, maybe able to get some airplay on adult contemporary radio or satellite, or maybe used as a montage type of song for a movie soundtrack, would be "Wake ‘Em Up." The sort of funny thing I found about the song, though, is that in keeping with old time rock and roll roots, it’s probably got an intro that’s a few bars too long, but then again, that’s old school rock and roll.

Some decent up-tempo songs, some blues and groovin’, and quite a few medium to slow "reflecting on life type" of songs round out "American Road." There’s also a decent cover of "Be My Baby," the Spector/Barry/Greenwhich song probably made most famous by The Ronettes, and really, the only song I can take or leave would be "Vicodin & Prayer," but that’s just me. He’s backed up nicely on the CD with lots of his friends and Jennifer Lee does a great job at handling most of the back-up vocal duties.

Sure, I will admit a little bias in reviewing this review as Michael Stanley both with Band and without, has always been one of my favorite artists, so my liking 12 out of 13 songs gives "American Road" a 92% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. If you’ve ever liked an old Michael Stanley type song, you’ll probably enjoy this CD, and if you’re looking for just some good ol’ Midwest type of rock, it’s pretty much here.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!