Friday, June 27, 2014

TAYLOR MESPLE - Victory Land (2002)

TAYLOR MESPLE - Victory Land (2002) AOR
Requested by a reader, this one is a pleasure to feature here, because it's one of the most criminally unknown releases from the past decade, and one of the best.
American singer and composer TAYLOR MESPLÉ recorded and put out this "Victory Land" - his debut album - independently in 2002. But indie does not mean poor production or players. At least not in this case.

Throughout this delicate piece of smooth WestCoast AOR with sophisticated Pop & Melodic Rock touches you will enjoy a terrific, first class sound production, and some of the most respected L.A. session man such as guitarist Tim 'the touch' Pierce or the prince of swing Abraham Laboriel Jr. behind the skins.
All tracks are really good combining melodic accessibility with the all out blowing of 'heavy' instrumental chops from every player on each track.

Style-wise, think Richard Page (Mr. Mister era), Jason Scheff, Richard Marx, King Of Hearts and alike, but there's much more variation on the album to put it in one single category.
As example, opener and title track "Victory Land", would not be out of place on Eric Johnson's Ah... Via Musicom.

Taylor Mesplé's "Victory Land" is a wonderful CD, composed and performed with passion, elegance and tons of finesse.
Rare and Great.

01 - Victory Land
02 - Answer Your Own Question
03 - Glory
04 - Imagination
05 - One Word
06 - Just Begun
07 - No Apology
08 - Go Somewhere (Renata's Story)
09 - Running
10 - Grace

Taylor Mesplé: Vocals, Keyboards, Vocoder, Guitar Soundscapes
Tim Pierce: Electric & Backwards Guitars, 12 String & Sustainiae Guitar
Dave Beegle: Nylon String Guitar, E-Bow
Joe Gamble: Additional Electric Guitars
Mel Brown: Bass
Michael Olson: Fretless Bass
Abraham Laboriel Jr: Drums
Larry Thompson: Drums & Processed Drum Overdubs
Darren Rahn: Programming
Keith Rosenhagen: Acoustic Guitar
Winston Ford : Background Vocals & Featured Guest Vocal
John David Webster, Rebecca Mesplé & Shauna Chanda: Background Vocals

TAYLOR MESPLE - Victory Land

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND - You Can't Fight Fashion [remastered & expanded]

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND - You Can't Fight Fashion [remastered & expanded] HQ
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

As requested, here it is the penultimate MICHAEL STANLEY BAND album, and their most successful commercially. Although my favorite from the combo is the already posted Inside Moves due its mid-eighties AOR feel, this "You Can't Fight Fashion" from 1983 it's a very nice exponent from the first half of the '80s American Melodic Rock.
The record scored two prosperous singles with the anthem "My Town" into the Top40 - a song with more than 100 recorded versions all over the world - and the highly melodic and a personal pick "Someone Like You" sung by talented Kevin Raleigh, reaching a very respectable #75 on the Billboard charts.

"You Can't Fight Fashion" is mostly straight forward radio rock oriented interspersed with pristine midtempos like the highlight "The Damage Is Done", another AOR gem from Raleigh that reminds Orion The Hunter and Franke & Knockouts.
Stanley's strong rocker "Fire In The Hole" is a story song about a mining disaster, with lead guitars all over (courtesy of new guitarist Danny Powers), while "Hard Time" is rich on stabbing keyboards / synths typical from the early '80s.

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND - You Can't Fight Fashion [remastered & expanded] back cover

Released nationally by EMI America and handled by high-profile producer Bob Clearmountain (Bryan Adams, David Bowie), "You Can't Fight Fashion" should have been MSB's deserved widespread success. But a dispute between Stanley and the label ended with EMI dropping the band after only six months of contract.
Despite of being the most fruitful on sales album in the entire Michael Stanley Band history, "You Can't Fight Fashion" is quite hard to find on CD (and in good quality on the blogosphere), only reissued some years ago with a couple of live bonus tracks.
A fine, catchy slice of American Melodic Rock ripped at maximum quality.

01 - Hard Time
02 - Just Give Me Tonight
03 - Someone Like You
04 - Highlife
05 - My Town
06 - The Damage Is Done
07 - Fire In The Hole
08 - How Can You Call This Love
09 - Just How Good
10 - My Town (Live) [bonus track]
11 - Someone Like You (Live) [bonus track]

Michael Stanley: vocals, guitar
Kevin Raleigh: vocals, synths, organ
Danny Powers: lead guitar, vocals
Bob Pelander: piano, synths, vocals
Michael Gismondi: bass
Tommy Dobeck: drums, percussion
Rick Bell: sax
Jimmy Maelen: percussion
Bob Clearmountain: arranger, mixing, producer, backing vocals

MSB You Can't Fight Fashion HQ

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND - Inside Moves (1986) [remastered & expanded]

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND - Inside Moves [remastered & expanded] front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

American songwriter / singer / guitarist Michael Stanley recorded two solo albums in the first half of the seventies with collaboration from the likes of Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren and David Sanborn, but he wanted a real, stable band and founded the MICHAEL STANLEY BAND in 1974.
For over a decade, MSB rocked the arenas all over the US MidWest sharing stages with Foreigner, The Eagles or REO Speedwagon, and gained a strong loyal following in USA & Canada.

The band's early '80s albums were the more popular with three Top40 singles and a video heavily played on the young MTV. But the one most praised by AOR fanatics is this final record as Michael Stanley Band (he continued recording as solo artist) entitled "Inside Moves".
The album merges mid-eighties AOR sounds with radio friendly melodic rock, plenty of hooks and lots of keyboards played by the talented Kevin Raleigh who also share lead vocals with Stanley.
The album was originally released only on vinyl featuring 9 tracks, later issued for the first time on CD during the nineties.

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND - Inside Moves [remastered & expanded] back cover

This 2003 reissue is the first (and only) remastered version of "Inside Moves" including 5 bonuses. My favorite is "Hard Die The Heroes" only released as a single, and it was featured in the professional American football team Cleveland Browns video 'Masters Of The Gridiron'. It's that kind of anthem so '80s.
MSB should have been huge commercially, but EMI Records never properly supported the band nationwide.
A shame, because they were really good.

01 - Show Me Something
02 - No Big Deal
03 - When All Is Said & Done
04 - Somebody Else's Woman
05 - Here Comes The Kids
06 - Inside Moves
07 - Headlights
08 - Poor Side Of Town
09 - Bop Till Ya Drop
10 - Hard Die The Heroes (previously unreleased)
11 - Shut Up & Leave Me Alone (previously unreleased)
12 - Hey Angel (previously unreleased)
13 - Rock Me Easy (previously unreleased)
14 - Kiss It Off (previously unreleased)

Michael Stanley: vocals, guitar
Danny Powers: lead guitar, vocals
Kevin Raleigh: synths, organ, vocals
Bob Pelander: piano, synths, vocals
Michael Gismondi: bass
Tommy Dobeck: drums, percussion

MICHAEL STANLEY BAND Inside Moves remastered