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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Stanley, Michael (Band) - 1980 Heartland
Stanley, Michael (Band) - 1980 Heartland

ARTIST: Stanley, Michael (Band)
ALBUM: Heartland
LABEL: EMI America
SERIAL: SW-17040
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1992, Razor & Tie, RE 2002 * 2014, Line Level Music, LL109


LINEUP: Michael Stanley - lead & backing vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, percussion * Kevin Raleigh - lead & backing vocals, piano, organ, percussion * Bob Pelander - backing vocals, electric & acoustic piano, organ, synthesizers, percussion, orchestra bells * Gary Markasky - lead electric guitars * Michael Gismondi - bass guitar, synthesizers * Tommy Dobeck - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 I'll Never Need Anyone More (Than I Need You..) * 02 Lover * 03 Don't Stop The Music * 04 He Can't Love You * 05 Working Again * 06 All I Ever Wanted * 07 Say Goodbye * 08 Hearts On Fire * 09 Voodoo *10 Carolyn * 11 Save A Little Piece For Me * 12 He Can't Love You (Live) * 13 Lover (Live)

WEBLINKS: www.michaelstanley.com

This was MSB's first LP for EMI America after being dropped by Arista after 'Greatest Hints'. In fact EMI America actually brought the finished product as the band initially cut the record to be sold locally, working through the night at a new local studio. This of course is the first of four that the band recorded for EMI America and saw probably the most successful period for the band, in terms of sales and the music produced. For me, the only bone of contention is that 'Heartland' is a tricky album. Purchased in 4th place in terms of the quartet and with that probably the album I have listened to the least of. So really this is the first time I have listened in earnest and with a critical eye (maybe that should be ear?).

The Songs
Ok, for those who are going to listen to this later, look away now, OK out of the room, the score in terms of the Heartland album is, Stanley Academicals 8 Raleigh Hotspur 3. Well that score line may not be as one sided as it suggests in terms of AOR songs taking a hammering. While Stanley may have not tinkered with the formation he became slightly more focussed on the melodic side of the music.

Straight up are 'I'll Never Need Anyone More' and 'Lover' which are two excellent musical figurations where the key primary purpose is to make them as melodic in nature as possible. 'Lover' actually sounds great as a live version on 'Fourth And Ten', where the crowd sings a couple of lines of the verses. Choruses I would understand, but verses? It only falls down with the absence of the saxophone. This opening is extended by 'Don't Stop The Music' where I love that creepy guitar, could that be Tony Iommi behind that moustache but as quick as say, Aston Villa sliding down the football pyramid (quick please upload this before they overtake Wolves), it changes to a chorus full of steam train drumming. It's possible that this tune could be the most individual in differing styles and aspects that Stanley has ever written. So three great songs and not even a hint of young Kev, well we see a tactical change with Raleigh brought on with 'He Can't Love You', well is this great AOR or even better power pop? Or maybe both. Raleigh has one helluva of an engine, he is the speed freak, singing and rocking the keyboards.

The second side of Stanley starts to reappear and maybe going back to safer climes. 'Working Again' is typical Stanley, but I found it a bit stifled, less imagination, yes safer. Vocally reminds me Todd Hobin or maybe that should be the other way round. 'All I Ever Wanted' fares better, he seems to up the energy levels both musically and vocally, while with 'Hearts On Fire' Stanley has got his size 12's on and provides a stomping beat over the chorus. 'Voodoo' has more of a classic rock element, and a weird possibility that I find it in common with UFO or Waysted, incredible as that may sound or be described as. With 'Say Goodbye' Raleigh sends in some breezy AOR, quite a song that could make a Tommy Shaw solo album. I am surprised that Raleigh was never used as a songwriter for other artists after leaving MSB. This tune actually sounds like it would be ideally placed on his solo album.

The last two tracks are a result of co-writes, not together, but with other band members, first 'Carolyn' (the B-side of MSB highest charting single 'He Can't Love You') is Stanley with Bob Pelander, this is an excellent rock tune, and as brash and coarse as an episode of The Sweeney (my favourite 70's detective series), while the second sees Raleigh matched up with Gary Markasky to deliver 'Save A Little Piece Of Me' a song centred on melodic rock, rather than AOR. Here you see a different side to Raleigh and how much was due to the influence of Gary would be nice to know. However these two makes it worth playing the album as it heads for time added on.

In Summary
Have you seen those fancy taps in a new wave kitchen that spouts out instant boiling water? Well the pens of Stanley and Raleigh have the same affect, flowing out the best hot tunes that have featured on any of the albums up to this point. What followed were minor charts success and succession of highly acclaimed albums, before the plug was pulled by EMI America. This period is still to this day seen as the most important and memorable and still cherished and appreciated by a band of supporters that can be found throughout the world and not just to their native Cleveland.

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This article has been tagged
#1 | DEMONAOR on October 25 2016 18:09:02
Great album. Still a classic.
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