Michael Stanley Band: Michael Stanley (vocals, guitar); Danny Powers (vocals, guitar, vibraphone); Kevin Raliegh, Bob Pelander (vocals, keyboards); Rick Bell (tenor saxophone); Michael Gismondi (bass); Tommy Dobeck (drums).
Additional personnel: Jimmy Maelen (percussion); Bob Clearmountain (background vocals).
Producers: Michael Stanley Band, Bob Clearmountain.
Recorded at Boogie Hotel, Port Jefferson, New York; Bearsville Sound Studios, Bearsville, New York; The Power Station, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Michael Stanley.
The Michael Stanley Band -- the pride of Cleveland, OH -- released its final major-label album, You Can't Fight Fashion, in 1983. It's a shame this EMI America release was MSB's national swan song after nearly a decade of being on the verge of deserved widespread success. Once again, MSB was joined by a high-profile co-producer, and this time it was Bob Clearmountain. MSB's second and final Top 40 single, the singalong anthem rocker "My Town," is the most notable of several You Can't Fight Fashion highlights. (In the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes, vocalist/guitarist Stanley recalls how approximately 100 city-specific edits of "My Town" were made.) The album is a straightforward rock & roll platter as MSB surprisingly eschews ballads this time around. Lead guitarist Danny Powers joined for the album, just as the sun was beginning to set on MSB. Vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Raleigh's superbly catchy pop/rock number "Someone Like You" (Stanley's all-time favorite Raleigh song) actually charted on the low end of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. Stanley's excellent "Hard Time" is enhanced by subtle touches of early-'80s keyboard sounds. Tenor saxophonist Rick Bell is featured prominently on You Can't Fight Fashion, especially on "Highlife." "The Damage Is Done" is another pop/rock gem from Raleigh. Stanley's scrappy, aggressive rocker "Fire in the Hole" is a story song about a mining disaster. The 1992 Razor & Tie CD reissue includes "My Town (Live)" and "Someone Like You (Live)," which were both recorded at Blossom Music Center near Cleveland in August 1984; the songs were originally found on the Michael Stanley Band's rare, independently released live album Fourth and Ten. ~ Bret Adams