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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Stanley, Michael (Band) - 1981 North Coast
Stanley, Michael (Band) - 1981 North Coast

ARTIST: Stanley, Michael (Band)
ALBUM: North Coast
SERIAL: SW-17056
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1992, Razor & Tie, RE-2003


LINEUP: Michael Stanley - vocals, guitars * Gary Markasky - guitars * Michael Gismondi - bass * Tommy Dobeck - drums * Kevin Raleigh - keyboards, vocals * Bob Pelander - keyboards * Rick Bell - saxophone

TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Heartland * 02 When Your Heart Says It's Right * 03 Somewhere In The Night * 04 You're My Love * 05 Heaven And Hell * 06 Don't You Do That To Me * 07 Falling In Love Again * 08 Tell Me * 09 Chemistry * 10 Victim Of Circumstance * 11 We Can Make It * 12 Let's Hear It * 13 Somewhere In The Night (Live) * 14 Shut Up And Leave Me Alone (Live)


How this album is not recognised as a melodic rock classic is a source of bewilderment to myself. The hard luck story of the MSB is well told, the band disbanding due to lack of real success in the mid 80's, but it should never have been. Prior to 'North Coast' the band had been making strides with every new release, 1980's 'Heartland' containing the minor hit 'He Can't Love You'. Reconvening the following year the band had added Bell as saxophonist and hired famed producer Eddie Kramer to oversee the album. Firing on all cylinders the MSB reached a melodic peak, their Midwest/Ohio brand of working mans rock proving more effective than Springsteen in those years.

The Songs
Vocal work as always - is split between Stanley, Pelander and Raleigh, but I've always favoured Stanley's deeper voice, although only marginally. The hard edged 'In The Heartland' juggles the theme of small town fatigue and alienation rather dramatically and heavily, the tone more hard rock than AOR. Not to worry, 'When Your Heart Says It's Right' delivers the AOR goods, as does 'Somewhere In The Night' which has the same midwest feel as John Mellencamp's best material from the period.'You're My Love' is certain to infiltrate the brain cells and linger for days, it did for me, a tracks so catchy it's impossible to forget. The sax is out in full force for the moody 'Heaven And Hell', a simmering masterpiece. Supertramp spings to mind for the bouncy 'Don't You Do That To Me', followed by one of the best ballads ever constructed, 'Falling In Love Again', high on emotion and nostalgia. 'Tell Me' follows the Springsteen formula of earthy rock and roll and pefectly so, 'Chemistry' on the other hand toying with some updated keyboard techniques for 1981, giving it a hint of new wave. 'Let's Hear It' rowdily ends the album by going back in time to a fifties type rock sound, clean, harmless fun.

In Summary
Impossible to find any negatives with 'North Coast' and nearly any of MSB's entire catalogue. One of the greatest of all the Midwest rock acts of the era it is a disgrace as to their treatment by EMI, which has been covered here in other reviews. With the right push they could have made it on a national level, the audiences they amassed in their hometown of Cleveland saying it all. Their ability to merge AOR with unpretentious rock of the most thrilling sort defines the Heartland indeed. Just take one step into the region and you'll hear this album in the background.

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#1 | JuniorNB on August 14 2008 17:34:11
Very underrated group, who's string of albums from '79-'83 were among the best of the entire AOR genre. It's a shame their popularity never grew much outside of Cleveland.

Perhaps their best cd isn't yet reviewed here- 'Heartland', which contained the great song 'He Can't Love You'.
#2 | melodiapositiva on July 17 2016 17:35:05
Nice, but it would have been better with Raleigh singing on every track. He's much better than Stanley.
#3 | RobLynott on October 13 2016 16:31:55
Fantastic album from start to finish! Kevin Raleigh has a voice to die for, but it's the mix of the different vocals that makes it really special imo.
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