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.