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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Michael Stanley

The Ride

Review by Gary Hill

This is a great disc, plain and simple. It’s got a classic rock vibe to it. It seems familiar and yet fresh. Everything here is strong and it’s a great “ride” from start to finish. If you like classic rock, you’ll love this. That’s a safe bet.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Shiny Things

There’s a real classic rock, jam band kind of vibe to this thing. The vocals at times make me think of David Bowie a bit. It’s a killer rocker with a lot of blues in the mix and a great soulful groove. I love the retro keyboard sound. The guitar solo based section later almost takes this thing into Pink Floyd like territory and the female vocals add to that comparison.

All I Want
A little lower in energy, this is no less vital in terms of passion and power. The vocals at times here seem a little like Randy Newman. Overall, though, this is another bluesy rocker and quite a cool tune.
Take That Ride
This tune (in terms of some of the melodies) reminds me of Bruce Springsteen’s “10th Avenue Freeze Out.” The thing is, I’m one of the only people in the free world who can’t stand Springsteen, so I like this much better. It’s a killer classic rock tune with some great wailing saxophone.
To Love Somebody
A love ballad, this is another tune that’s quite effective. I like it a lot. It starts extremely mellow, but builds out into a more powered up sound as it continues.
This mid-tempo rocker isn’t a big change, but it’s still an effective tune. There is a little percussion workout on the fadeout.
If Anybody Could
Here is one of the highlights of the disc. The arrangement has a lot of bluesy jazz in it and this thing just oozes cool.
A Fool in Love
A faster paced tune, this has a prominent horn section and rocks out pretty well.
Drums open things here and we get more of a slow mellow groove tune here. The retro organ sound and cool bluesy vibe is just plain awesome. It’s really quite a slow blues rocker with a lot of traditional sounds. The jazzy piano solo is a great touch. I’d say this one actually crosses over into progressive rock territory later.
Lucky Again
This energetic rocker is quite tasty. It’s not anything Earth-shattering, but it just works.
Making Beds (In a Burning House)
The vocals on this one make me think of Tom Petty. In fact, the whole song reminds me a bit of Petty. The arrangement, though, is more of a bluesy jazzy one. It’s all quite cool, though. I really dig the bluesy guitar solo on this thing.
Shining Thru
A melodic rocker, this one makes me think of the jazzier side of Chicago quite a bit.
Anything Goes
This is the most purely blues oriented cut of the whole set. There are some hints of the Allman Brothers here, too. It’s a smoking hot blues romp that is quite effective. I particularly dig the piano solo here. The organ solo is also noteworthy.
I Can't Wait
Arguably the most instantly accessible tune here, this is also the most modern sounding. Sure, there is still plenty of classic rock in the mix, but this is very much a modern rock tune. It’s catchy and tasty. It’s also another where I can make out a little Tom Petty at times.
When the Smoke It Finally Clears
A balladic cut, there is a real epic feeling to this. It is another that feels rather like progressive rock at times. It’s a great piece of music and an excellent way to end the set in style.
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