ARTIST: Stanley, Michael (Band)
ALBUM: Greatest Hints
SERIAL: AB 4236
CD REISSUE: 1992, Razor & Tie, RE2001
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Michael Stanley - vocals, guitars, percussion * Tommy Dobeck - drums, percussion * Bob Pelander - vocals, grand piano, clavinet, synthesizer, orchestra bells * Gary Markasky - vocals, guitars * Kevin Raleigh - vocals, organ, fender rhodes, synthesizer, chimes * Michael Gismondi - bass, saxaphone, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Last Night * 02 Don't Lead With Your Love * 03 Promises * 04 Down To The Wire * 05 No Turning Back * 06 Back In My Arms Again * 07 Beautiful Lies * 08 Lights Out * 09 Hold Your Fire * 10 We're Not Strangers Anymore
Not to split hairs or revise history, but unlike REO Speedwagon
, Michael Stanley Band were not big in all of the Midwestern United States. More accurately the 'Rust Belt' states of Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and their native Ohio were the bands biggest base of popularity. In the central time zone and west of the Mississippi River they couldn't get arrested not to mention their status in Los Angeles and New York, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. They toured heavily throughout the US opening for anyone and everyone but it never really translated into big selling records and part of the problem (in my ever so humble opinion) was Stanley's voice which never sold me as all that wonderful and a serious lack of good songs making for some very average to poor albums. That would all change with 1979's 'Greatest Hints' where the group would turn down the road to pure AOR with winning results.
Part of what makes this album so good is the addition of Kevin Raleigh as secondary vocalist. His vocals are the perfect counterpoint to Stanley's deeper tones. Almost like Steve Perry
in a vocal blowout with Bruce Springsteen
for want of a better analogy! The record is chock full of great tunes including the first three 'Last Night', Don't Lead With Your Love' and the pompy 'Promises'. Down To The Wire' strangely reminds me of Breathless
(Former MSB member Jonah Koslen
's band) while 'No Turning Back' has a bit of a Kansas
vibe for reasons I still can't put my finger on? A good tune, but wait, there's more! 'Back In My Arms Again' is the best song on the album. Terrific pop rock and again its Raleigh's background vocals that pull the song together. If this doesn't get your melodic blood pumpin', I don't know what will! Turn it up! The only downside on 'Greatest Hints' is the Springsteen styled 'Beautiful Lies' which is just a little too faux blue collar bar band AOR for my tastes. Saving the day and the album is the final track 'We're Not Strangers Anymore' with some nice keyboard work from Raleigh as well as some tasty orchestration. Very, very nice!
Of course, the Michael Stanley Band would strike gold in the early 80's with the single 'My Town' and release a few superb albums, but for my money 'Greatest Hints' is their best by a mile and will never leave my collection.
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