After two solo albums in the early '70s, Michael Stanley formed the Michael Stanley Band, which released "You Break It, You Bought It!" in 1975. This Bill Szymczyk-produced platter was the first of three albums on Epic Records, and it also started the process of turning the Cleveland band into hometown legends. Rhythm guitarist Stanley was the band's namesake, but he shared songwriting and lead-vocal duties with lead guitarist Jonah Koslen almost equally for three years until Koslen left by 1978 to form Breathless. Besides Stanley and Koslen, MSB's original lineup also included bassist Daniel Pecchio (a Glass Harp veteran) and drummer Tom Dobeck. Keyboardist Paul Harris was a featured session player on the first few albums. "I'm Gonna Love You" is the album's appropriately energized opener. Stanley's relaxed ballad "Dancing in the Dark" is interesting because it's told from the point of view of a man who looks back fondly on an old relationship although he's currently happy with his woman and their children. Koslen's "Step the Way" starts out as folk-pop, but he adds some nice lead guitar work at the end. "Waste a Little Time on Me" is a fine ballad from Koslen. The arrangement on "Gypsy Eyes" highlights all the instruments, particularly the rhythm section and the biting guitar solo, and Koslen's soft singing holds it together. "Sweet Refrain" has a bit of country guitar twang but pop vocals and harmonies. Stanley's heart-on-his-sleeve "Where Have All the Clowns Gone" and "Song for My Children" essentially form a dramatic medley, which is emphasized by the string section. You Break It, You Bought It! is the promising beginning of a talented Midwestern band equally comfortable with rockers and ballads.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams