lunedì 15 dicembre 2014

Stories - Stories & About Us (2007 Raven) 1972 - 1973

Biography : Few one-hit wonders have ever been as thoroughly misleading as Stories and their cover of Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie." Stories turned Hot Chocolate's tale of interracial love into an early-'70s AM pop classic, a number one hit in 1973 and a staple of '70s oldies radio and compilations from that point after, but its very omnipresence hurt the band, suggesting they were another faceless studio-created outfit, maybe even a bubblegum group, when they were nothing of the sort. Stories was the brainchild of former Left Banke pianist/songwriter Michael Brown, who wrote the baroque classics "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina" for the group, and bassist/singer Ian Lloyd. The two were paired after Brown signed to Kama Sutra in 1971, with Lloyd bringing in associates drummer Bryan Madey and guitarist Steve Love, thus completing Stories. Brown and Lloyd collaborated on two albums but Brown did not stick around to finish the second, 1973's About Us, due to his dissatisfaction with the direction Lloyd and producer Eddie Kramer were taking the band. That second album brought the band closer to a polished commercialism, but Raven's 2007's two-fer Stories/About Us the best-produced collection of the band's two major albums ever produced, supplemented by the 1974 single "Another Love," which was released after the group's third album Traveling Underground, was billed to Ian Lloyd & Stories upon its release shows that Stories was always an odd creature, bearing echoes of Brown's delicate work with Left Banke, a more mainstream McCartney-esque pop also reminiscent of a sweeter Raspberries and, thanks to Lloyd's light rasp, hints of Rod Stewart. That hoarse soulfulness served Lloyd well on "Brother Louie," but he was never a true blue-eyed soul vocalist, and not just because Stories didn't often delve into blues-rock: his touch was too light, his voice too high and thin to dig deep into R&B. He was stuck between two sounds, between precious pop and soulful rock, which was completely appropriate for Brown's artful pop writing. Brown's songs for Stories weren't immediate, they were elliptical and gentle, just melodic enough to hint that these tunes are hookier than they are, having just enough structure to suggest big pop arrangements that never quite materialize, at least on their debut Stories. The touchstone for Stories is quite plainly Paul McCartney, as this is music that places the melody at the forefront; it's proudly precious and willfully whimsical, music crying out for listeners with a sweet tooth. Here, Stories make Badfinger seem like muscular macho men, as their hardest-rocking song, "Take Cover" with its big, cascading chorus, it's a tune that could have slipped onto No Dice almost perversely avoids power chords. Then again, "Take Cover," while it does point the way to About Us, is atypical on Stories, as it's built upon baroque ballads and lovely, lilting, mid-tempo pop, signatures of Michael Brown from the days of Left Banke. While it's interesting to hear Brown navigate the valleys of modern rock production here, Stories could have used more definition in its arrangements, more power in its production, to really grab listeners. As it stands, it's ideal music for cultists: music that requires a bit of work, but not too much, to truly appreciate, and it does pay back the effort it demands.

About Us is a completely different story altogether. No work is required of the listener on this second album by Stories, as Eddie Kramer's cinematic production gives the band definition and drama, pulling them into the leagues of such power poppers as Badfinger, the Raspberries and Todd Rundgren. Not that Stories rocked as hard as any of those three -- there's not much kinetic thrust to their rhythms or reckless abandon to their playing, not even on the boogie "Don't Ever Let Me Down" or the jokey blues of "Down Time Blooze" but there's muscle and color to their sound on About Us; the songs leap out of the speakers and command attention, unlike the tunes on the debut, which whispered and required close listening. Not that Michael Brown has abandoned his long-standing infatuation with delicate melodies, or even his fondness for McCartney-esque whimsy, but when put through the filter of Kramer's production, everything becomes bigger and bolder, to the extent that a jaunty piano instrumental, "Circles," recalls nothing so much as one of Billy Joel's ragtime tunes of the early '70s. Such moves toward the mainstream are undoubtedly why Brown bolted sometime during the recording, leaving the band as the sole province of singer Ian Lloyd, but the music left behind is almost all unmistakably Brown's, as it's all driven by melody and even occasionally built upon baroque keyboards. The major difference and inarguable improvement is in the production, which fleshes out the songs, not only making them easier to appreciate but harder to resist, turning About Us into a minor power pop classic. Of course, the exception to the rule is the album's lone hit, a lush cover of Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie," which suggested Stories were a blue-eyed soul AM pop band, a suggestion that the rest of the album proved untrue but fewer people heard the other 12 songs on this album, not just in 1973 but throughout the years, so About Us turned into a lost pop classic that even pop aficionados had to be persuaded to find. But once they were persuaded, they were often seduced by this sumptuous yet powerful pop album. Raven's 2007 two-fer contains one bonus track, the 1974 single "Another Love" which was an attempt to do a bisexual spin on "Brother Louie"'s tale of interracial love and, appropriately for the topic, it sounds a bit more glammy than "Brother Louie," or anything else on About Us, actually. Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

01.Hello People 3:19
02.I'm Comming Home 2:41
03.Winter Scenes 4:21
04.Step Back 3:21
05.You Told Me 3:07
06.Saint James 4:31
07.Kathleen 3:15
08.Take Cover 3:03
09.Nice To Have You Here 3:36
10.High And Low 4:27
About Us:
11.Darling 2:45
12.Don't Ever Let Me Down 2:22
13.Love Is In Motion 3:17
14.Hey France 2:58
15.Please, Please 5:02
16.Changes Have Begun 3:35
17.Circles 1:36
18.Believe Me 3:38
19.Words 2:26
20.Top Of The City 3:00
21.Down Time Blooze 1:19
22.What Comes After 2:02
23.Brother Louie 3:54
Bonus Track Single:
24.Another Love 3:16

Ian Lloyd - Lead Vocals, Bass
Steve Love - Vocal Harmonies, Guitar
Brian Madey - Drums
Michael Brown - Piano, Harpsichord, Organ

8 commenti:

Solidboy ha detto...

Flac Cue Log Scans

winston smith ha detto...

hi there the link is where ? thank you richard

Solidboy ha detto...

The Link is in the name of the band under trackinglist

adamus67 ha detto...

The story of Stories begins with songwriter and pianist Michael Brown, who in the late 1960s rose to prominence with the Left Banke. Come the early 1970s, he was prepared to cut an instrumental album for the Kama Sutra label but the project eventually blossomed into a full-blown band. And that’s how Stories was born. Raven Records released Stories and About Us on a single CD, including the bonus track "Another Love" (for its time a fairly suggestive song about bisexuality), being the last single by the group, released in 1974.

Initially released in 1972, Stories stands as a logical extension of what the Left Banke was doing. Riddled with intricate string arrangements and classical piano passages, the album exerts an elegant feel. But amid such long hair aspirations, a variety of styles cement the album, resulting in a striking set of clever and catchy tunes.

Bursting with good cheer, “Hello People” swells to a mass of gospel informed harmonies, while “Step Back” and “Saint James” expose the band’s flair for performing power pop rock. Airy and mystical, “Winter Scenes” is absolutely gorgeous, and then there’s the bright and bubbly “I’m Coming Home,” which races along to a crack collision of honky tonk piano thrills and quasi-hillbilly vocals and country-fried riffage. Rigged to maximum effects with radiant melodies, fetching choruses and inventive instrumentation, Stories is best defined as a progressive pop venture.

The band’s follow-up album, All About Us arrived in 1973, and proved to be something of a departure from their debut effort. For instance, the gritty blues based “Top of the City” pays lip service to Free, where “Don’t Ever Let Me Down” adopts a bit of a boogie woogie approach. The album also features the band’s big hit single, “Brother Louie,” which told the tale of an ill-fated interracial romance. Triggered by a soulful, funky temper, the smash song further involved a sprinkling of cool wah-wah guitar pickings.

Although All About Us offered rather different flavors than its predecessor, the record still dispatched a fair share of beautiful pop rock pieces. Stories had not completely abandoned their penchant for crafting and performing songs flickering with detail and strong hooks. Parked on the same page as contemporaries like Badfinger, Elton John and Raspberries, but equipped with an occasional art rock edge, Stories were a great band. They had the courage to experiment and expand their sonic horizons,with interesting shapes and designs.

Marco,Thank you for sharing...good job!!!

Anonimo ha detto...

thank you very much!
great album.

winston smith ha detto...

thank you for the reply regarding link ciao richard

Anonimo ha detto...

Thank you for the quick response, very appreciated!

fabio ha detto...

Great Post.

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