The Michael Stanley Band continued its long string of consistently good rock & roll albums with 1982's MSB. The Cleveland band also had a knack for attracting noted producers and co-producers, and this time around it was Don Gehman, who hit commercial and critical paydirt that same year with John Cougar's American Fool. In the Razor & Tie CD reissue liner notes, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Stanley commends Gehman for helping guide the band through a difficult time in the studio. The music, fortunately, doesn't really bear any scars. Stanley and vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Raleigh contributed some solid songs, but musically the star on MSB is saxophonist Rick Bell. He plays his heart out throughout. It's a wonder his lungs didn't collapse and his cheeks didn't split open. MSB was the last album for lead guitarist Gary Markasky. The band only had two Top 40 hits and a small handful of other singles that cracked Billboard's Hot 100, and MSB includes two of the latter: Raleigh's pleasant pop/rock number "When I'm Holding You Tight" and Stanley's subdued cautionary tale "Take the Time." The live favorite "In Between the Lines" is a terrific rocker with gritty lead vocals from Stanley and effective harmony vocals from Raleigh. Stanley's "Spanish Nights" is a delicately arranged story song about broken love set in Los Angeles. Raleigh's power ballad "One of Those Dreams" is enjoyable. The Razor & Tie CD bonus tracks "In Between the Lines (Live)" and "Fire in the Hole (Live)" were recorded at Cleveland's Blossom Music Center in August 1984 and were previously available on the band's rare live album, Fourth and Ten.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams