Michael Stanley, The Michael Stanley Band: Right Back at Ya’ (1971-1983)

Jon Wiederhorn

By Jon Wiederhorn

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Heartland rocker Michael Stanley was a hero in his native Cleveland throughout the '70s and early '80s, but didn't fare as well nationally, landing a few top 30 singles but never really connecting with the mainstream. It wasn't from a lack of quality material, as this 1992 career retrospective clearly illustrates. Stanley's early solo work was intimate, introspective and filled with high-profile guest musicians like Joe Walsh, David Sanborn and Todd Rundgren; his post-1975 songs with the Michael Stanley Band were even more accessible, establishing his identity as a gifted melodic songwriter in the vein of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp. Stanley was at his best when kicking up dust on the propulsive "He Can't Love You" and the hometown pride anthem "My Town," but he was also an effective, vulnerable balladeer, as he demonstrated with the yearning string-saturated "Why Should Love Be This Way."