Michael Stanley

Friends & Legends

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The title of Michael Stanley's 1973 album Friends & Legends -- his second and final solo effort before starting the Michael Stanley Band -- is certainly deserved. The Clevelander's talent must have been immediately evident to big names in the music business, because even Stanley's self-titled debut featured stellar guests. Bill Szymczyk produced Friends & Legends, and he recruited Joe Walsh and his band Barnstorm, Stephen Stills' Manassas, saxophonist David Sanborn, Richie Furay, and Dan Fogelberg to perform on it; J. Geils is also credited for helping Stanley co-produce the saxophone parts. "Among My Friends Again" is pleasant, easygoing folk-rock. An extremely mellow, reflective cover of the Beatles' "Help" is impressive, and Stanley says in the liner notes to the Razor & Tie reissue that a friend played it for John Lennon, who replied that Stanley's version was performed the way he originally conceived the song. The dramatically brooding "Let's Get the Show On the Road" is one of Stanley's best songs and was a concert favorite for many years; Sanborn's rich saxophone work on the track is stellar, and he really stretches out on the funky, Latin-flavored outro jam. "Just Keep Playing Your Radio" is an early example of rock's embrace of reggae. Thanks to Joe Vitale's multi-tracked flute parts and its overall Latin feel, "Roll On" resembles the music of War. "Funky Is the Drummer" is a fun, little throwaway on which Stanley introduces the musicians. The long guitar jam at the end of the otherwise subdued "Poets' Day" concludes Friends & Relatives on a blistering note.

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