|All Artists: James Lee Stanley|
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Release Date: 1/31/1992
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
James Lee Stanley comes alive with this shockingly powerful
Dave | United States | 02/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"James Lee Stanley's 1980 album "Midnight Radio" is so incredibly average, it's practically maddening. However, this 1988 album "Simpatico" is a shockingly powerful masterpiece that stands in major contrast to that previous album.
Stanley produced all of "Simpatico" himself. It was recorded from January 1987 through August 1988, and it does indeed have very much of a mid-to-late '80s synthesizer-heavy, drum machine-heavy sound, and amazingly, he really pulled it off--he managed to steer clear of bombast and make a highly dramatic, consistently haunting concept album. It helps a lot too that his vocals are passionate, unlike his smooth-yet-toothless delivery from before.
Another thing that seems to have been a key factor is that Stanley got a lot of assistance in the songwriting department. Two excellent, powerful songs were written by Michael Smith: "Three Monkeys" and "Man In The Mirror". Smith & Stanley would later release the duo album "Two Man Band Two", and they co-wrote one song here, "Saving My Heart", and it's pretty similar to "Three Monkeys" in feel, and it's a splendid song in its own right. "Same Olde Samba" was co-written by Stanley and, surprisingly, Leah Kunkel (a session vocalist who made a pair of solo albums in the late '70s/ early '80s and was the wife of legendary session drummer Russ Kunkel before he married Nicolette Larson) and it's a great, catchy song with superb, moody guitar. "The Rhythm Of Your Lies", written by Stanley and Thom Bishop, has a marvelously ominous atmosphere, a great melody, and blatantly out-of-tune background vocals (from Bishop, I believe) that, incredibly, manage to suit the song and give it additional edginess. The album closer "Two Wrongs" is a catchy pop-rock tune with sort of a feel-good feel to it--it's beyond all belief how far superior this version to the one the appears on the subsequent "Two Man Band" album from Peter Tork & Stanley. Two songs were written by Stanley and Laurence Juber--"Salvador" is another engaging dramatic song; and "The Spark", although a little rote, is also very good.
As for Stanley's two solo compositions... "The Jackal" is a terrific, somewhat R.E.M.-ish tune with Stanley sounding remarkably like Michael Stipe in certain spots. And the relatively mellow "The Dancer" has a splendidly tuneful chorus.
Stanley's tendency to fall back on cliches in the lyrics is slightly in evidence on this album, but very much kept under control and not a big problem at all.
Overall, "Simpatico" is an incredibly satisfying album that flows extremely well--it has a consistent and focused tone without ever getting annoyingly samey. If you're into pop-rock given a solid dose of drama, this album is a must for any serious listener."