Monday, August 19, 2013

Michael Stanley Band - You Can't Fight Fashion

Following their 1982 album MSB (click here for that review), the Michael Stanley Band released You Can’t Fight Fashion on this day (August 19th) back in 1983. It was their eighth studio album and their final one on a major label. It charted at number 64 on the US Billboard 200 Album chart, their highest chart position ever. Today, we’ll give it a listen to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary.

The band line-up changed slightly with this record. Danny Powers came on board to replace departing lead guitarist Gary Markasky.

Side one opens with “Hard Time”, which reminds the listener that life isn’t a movie that always has a happy ending.

“Just Give Me Tonight”, a song about getting one more chance to sway a former lover, opens with a Rick Bell sax burst.

“Someone Like You”, the second single, charted at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Keyboardist Kevin Raleigh takes lead vocals on this track which he also penned.

The B-side to the second single was anxiously urgent “Highlife”, a song about a woman who freely enjoys being caught up in the grip of drug addiction.

Side two begins with the urban anthem “My Town”, driven home by Tommy Dobeck‘s pounding drumbeat. As the first single from the album, it charted at number 39 on the US Billboard Hot 100; it would also be the band‘s last Top 40 hit.

“The Damage Is Done” really sums up that broken and hurt feeling right out of the gate, even before the vocals start. The music touches that deep core in your heart where you push down those things that ache.

After the last number, “Fire in the Hole” kicks up the heat. I like the way the guitars of Stanley, Powers, and Michael Gismondi blaze on this one.

“How Can You Call This Love” is a bit schizoid as it goes from slower verses to faster choruses. It would be a tough song to dance to because of that.

“Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels)”, the B-side to the first single, closes out the vinyl release. The opening percussion gets my feet bouncing right out of the gate, while the lyrics point out the appeal of a bad girl.

I very much remember hearing “My Town” on the radio back in the day and enjoying its energy and attitude. The rest of You Can’t Fight Fashion, however, managed to skip right by me. Listening to it for this review, I found Stanley’s songs to be full of strong, working-class themes and appeal. I can definitely see myself grabbing a few of these songs for my library in the future.


HERC said...

The local radio station played a version of "My Town" where the band yelled "TUCSON" twice during the choruses.

They also had a version of "Hot In The City" by Billy Idol where he said "TUCSON" instead of "New York" after the breakdown at 2:45.

Martin Maenza said...

Those were two good examples of songs that had local cities substituted in them. Others included Huey Lewis and the News' "Heart of Rock 'n Roll" and Starships "We Built This City".