Music » Livewire

Michael Stanley and the Resonators

Friday, December 23, at the Odeon.


We confess, we have an enduring respect for performers who didn't quite get their hands on that brass ring in the '70s and '80s, but still keep at it -- folks like Ellen McIlwaine, Willy DeVille, and hometown hero Michael Stanley.

All the aforementioned artists received critical acclaim, released some very good -- and some great -- records, and showed the usual "signs" of impending Breakthrough Success -- in Stanley's case, the vowel-less production ace Bill Szymczyk (B.B. King, Eagles), a backing crew with "name" recognition (Todd Rundgren, Joe Walsh, David Sanborn), and a benediction from John Lennon, who truly admired MS's cover of the Beatles' "Help" from 1973's Friends & Legends album. (Then as now, jerky radio hacks don't care who your studio friends are.)

Stanley's 1975 set, You Break It -- You Bought It, wasn't exactly Teenage Fanclub, but it had a cozy mix of folk and country-tinged introspection and semi-power-pop. In 1980, punk had yet to break in America, but the Michael Stanley Band had scooped John Cougar Mellencamp with his Heartland rock plan. About three years later, the major-label suits slighted Stanley, showing him the door to make room for crap like Duran Duran. Undaunted, MS persevered, performing concise, melodic rock songs with a soupçon of wit and an awareness of roots. Give the man his props Friday at the Odeon.

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