Stanley, Michael: The Ride
Well, you can't keep a guy from Cleveland away from making music for long. Especially a disc jockey listening to everyone else's' new music every day. Must be those long cold winters. (I remember them well). Plenty of time to create.
Michael Stanley and the Resonators are back with a new album, 'The Ride' and, well, they chose that title perfectly. This is another amazing ride for Mr. Stanley, complete with the blues and plenty of good Mid-Western rock.
The Resonators including: Tommy Dobeck, on drums; Bob Pelander, on piano and backing vocals; Danny Powers, on guitar and backing vocals; Jennifer Lee, on vocals and percussion; Rodney Psyka, on percussion and backing vocals; Marc Lee Shannon, on guitar and sauce; Eroc Sosinski, on bass and backing vocals; and Paul Christensen, on sax.
'Shiny Things' kicks off this album like no other song on the album could. It's a natural opener. Perfect lyrics, where Michael unveils that Cleveland sense of humor well. The lyrics speak for themselves, "Yeah I can see you're in too deep. And it's starting to show…You ought to look before you leap. And you just might see the way it's going to go 'cause…Baby she like. Baby she like. Baby she like the shiny things. She likes the gold and the silver. The diamonds and rings". Excellent organ and keyboard work fill the air with great sax support. The guitar solos are solid. Jennifer Lee's backing vocals sound like something out of Motown. You just don't want this one to end. It's gonna be a real crowd pleaser at shows. You can already see the ladies dancing to this one.
'All I Want' starts with that bold piano opening familiar in the songs of Bob Segar and others from the American Mid-West. It is a signature and a reminder, but the organ takes over to help build a good slow melody. A good ole fashioned love song. Jennifer Lee's supporting vocals make it perfect.
So let's 'Take That Ride', sounds like a Springsteen classic at the opening with sax, organ, and drums. Just what the doctor ordered. If you're stuck in a rut, go out and take that ride. Everyone has that favorite place. My guess is that Stanley heads north to Sandusky and the lakeshore or south to Hinckley. Either way it's all good. And so is this excellent road song. It will be another great show song. The sax work will satisfy all Springsteen fans…and there are many amongst Stanley's fan base.
'To Love Somebody'. Michael Stanley plays the Bee Gees? Ok. Yah, I remember the bonfires of disco albums in Cleveland and Chicago. But this is the early pre-disco Bee Gees. When they really created some classic works that will live on forever. Michael takes a slow walk through this extraordinary song full of deep, emotional lyrics. Surprised…yes. Pleasantly.
Michael Stanley goes 'Uptown', and you can almost predict where that will end. "She's going uptown. Ain't gonna be another Saturday night. She's going uptown. That's where you're gonna find her…" Full of a great beat, rhythm, and at times Hornsby-like piano.
'If Anybody Could' builds slow and mellows like wine. The sax opening will lock in on your ears. "Well I've been thinking 'bout tomorrow. I've been running from the past. And I've been tryin' to find a moment. A moment that might last". Solid relationship song that will be perfect for slow dances and time relaxing by the fire. Probably would make Hall and Oats blush.
Michael Stanley does a great job with Frankie Miller and Andy Frazer's 'A Fool In Love'. You know with his sense of humor he had fun with this one. More great sax and organ playing.
'Justine' is by far one of the best songs on the album musically. But the lyrics are excellent as well. The bass, organ, lead guitar, drums, and keys set a perfect dirty dance rhythm. "I wanna do more than just dance with you Justine…". The piano is elegantly set perfectly against the organ, bass and guitar. "I can feel you slowly swaying. Not that you had to prove. And it's downright near illegal. Girl the way you move. And you took what Mama gave you and you made it all your own". Whew!
'Lucky Again' is another one of those 'lookin' for love' songs set to Hornsby piano. "Sooner or later it all turns round. And I'm gonna be there when it all comes down. Don't know where and don't know when. But, I got the feeling I'm feeling lucky again". Excellent keys, melody and dance rhythm.
'Making Beds (In A Burning House)' is probably the second best song instrumentally. The lyrics are also some of the best on the album. That Stevie Ray Vaughn like electric rip on the guitar is excellent. You can never minimize the power of a great sounding organ for creating mood with that slow walking groove. Jennifer Lee joins in to make it perfect: "We're making beds in a burning house again".
'Shining Thru' opens with organ, full on horns and keys as it takes you back to some of the optimistic songs which glisten across Stanley's past. "And I can see the difference, when you play to win and not to lose. I can see you shining thru…"
'Anything Goes' is a blues rock extravaganza. Don't sit still a minute on this album…there are lots of changes. "I remember Mama told me. Gotta treat the ladies nice. So I followed her directions. But that didn't cut no ice". "They want a bad boy. So I'm doin' all I can to try and be that kind of man…" Yep, I think you know what he means.
'I Can't Wait' has that classic Stanley sound that you all miss from the '70s.
Slow acoustic guitar opens the album closer 'When The Smoke Finally Clears'. Yes, Stanley knows how to open and close an album well. This one tugs at the emotions just like all of his classic best. Excellent piano, organ, and Jennifer Lee's choir – like vocal support raises the level of the sound. "When the smoke it finally clears. We'll find a place for landing. We'll pray for understanding…"
If you are a Michael Stanley fan I don't need to tell you how good this is. You already know. You just needed to hear it was available. For those new to Stanley, if you like Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Bob Segar, or even REO Speedwagon, (without the flash), you need to check this album out. One of the best things to ever emerge from the 'Rust Belt' of Ohio's smoggy skies, cold and snow-filled lakeshore winters. 'The Ride' will welcome you back to spring.
1. Shiny Things
2. All I Want
3. Take That Ride
4. To Love Somebody
6. If Anybody Could
7. A Fool In Love
9. Lucky Again
10. Making Beds (In A Burning House)
11. Shining Thru
12. Anything Goes
13. I Can't Wait
14. When The Smoke Finally Clears
Added: May 25th 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: www.michaelstanley.com
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