Michael Stanley is one of those artists who has produced quality rock and roll for over four decades but never received the huge commercial success that he deserved.
He began his recording career in 1969 as a member of the band Silk. By 1974, he was fronting the Michael Stanley Band, with whom he toured and recorded until 1976. After taking some time off, he began recording as a solo artist in 1995. He has now issued a three-CD, 43 track set that focus’ on the best from his solo releases.
He is at heart an American heartland rocker. Whether in slow or up-tempo mode, he is able to create melodic grooves that fit into the musical mainstream. He has always been a talented songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist who has remained in touch with the basics of rock and roll.
The tracks are taken from 12 albums issued during the past 20 years. It was originally planned as a two disc set. Disc One contains “The Rousers” and Disc Two “The Weepies.”
Disc one has been playing constantly in my car stereo system for the last couple of days. They are the songs that present Stanley at his best. It is in your face rock and roll. There is a power to the songs and when taken together form a strong and cohesive body of work.
“The Weepies” move at a slower pace. There is passion and emotion present but when I think of Stanley’s sound, these are not the songs that usually come to mind. Having said that, combining them all together presents a different side of his creative process.
Stanley sent some of his choices to friend and producer Bill Szymczyk, nickname Crispy, for his comments. He sent back his thoughts for a third disc, complete with notes, which evolved into Disc Three: “Crispy’s Critters.” It is an eclectic group of songs that move in a number of directions. Songs range from “Coming Up For Air,” which is about his heart attack to an odd journey through The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby.”
Stanley may not be destined to become a superstar. Instead he is a veteran musician who has honed his craft and gained the ability to produce some of the best rock and roll of the past 20 years. The Solo Years: 1995-2014 is not only a fine introduction to his music but presents the essence of rock and roll.