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!