for Love by Stanley B
– Reviewed by Chris Mann
multi-instrumentalist and producer Stanley B has been performing since
the age of four. At the age of nine he joined the city boys choir and in
a couple of years he was a backup pianist for the choir main pianist. At
fourteen when his big brother did not show up for his band rehearsal, he
covered for him that day, eventually replacing his brother in the rock
band and performing every weekend on large concerts.
The band went on
to gain such a following that they had to make special efforts to
accommodate their burgeoning fan base.
He has gone on to compose and record solo albums, movie scores and TV
commercials. In addition Stanley has performed in a chart band, jazz
bands and has played in some of the most prestigious piano lounges
around the world. He has
also produced over a dozen albums.
is “B” stamps his funky style on the CD straight away –
it’s a solid introduction to his clean piano sound laid over the top
of a backing which makes heavy use of technology but which still has a
human feel. I’ll start
out by saying that his piano sound has elements of Brian Culbertson and
elements of Bob Mamet – yet he sounds like Stanley B.
In contrast Do
You? is very gentle and romantic.
It’s a vocal too, featuring the falsetto of labelmate Ray-Ray.
I was really drawn to the subtle acoustic guitar fills of Dori
The title track
tugs even harder at the heartstrings – piano is centre-stage.
There are suble string and wind tones in the background.
The nearest comparison sound-wise here would be David Benoit.
Maybe I’m perverse in mentally putting together film scores and
live sets when I review albums. This
has film score potential – a fact that someone soon will pick up on
I love Don’t
I Know You? with harmonica sounds, searing electric guitar and a
tough backbeat. Oh, did I
mention that the sultry vocals of Anita Pointer can be heard here? Ever since I stood windswept and wet outside the stage door
of a UK theatre to get the Pointer Sisters’ autographs I’ve been a
fan. Listen to the fast and
note-perfect piano run at the end of this song.
Classy stuff Mr B!
Reid-style soundscape opens up the lush and mysterious Mound
View. Technology is
used here but not for technology’s sake; the drum sounds (augmented by
live cymbals) are great and the keyboard bass solo (which I’ve
listened to intently) makes me smile every time.
There’s a lovely flute sample which doubles the piano line.
If I dissect this any more, I’ll ruin it – it’s a superb
OK, I look for
film music and big live hitters – well, this has got to be the single!
Got 2 Survive has a nice chugging
groove and it features the sweet vocal of Kenya Hathaway.
Ernie Watts blows mellow on sax but don’t be fooled – the
lyric is thought-provoking. Hints
of Incognito – I hope we hear Ms Hathaway again soon…
it On is tight jammin’ material and I particularly love the
atmospheric electric guitar licks and spooky, big piano chords.
The changes are nice and just make the verse sound even tougher
the second time around. This
is done with too much conviction to believe it’s just two guys!
I could make a
similar statement for Just Say It with some
nice cymbal work from Paul Van Patten adding the top layer to a backing
made up of Stanley’s inventive percussion programming and synth bass
that sounds like someone very groovy on an upright.
As on several tracks here, the movement between staccato
single-note playing and dense chords works its magic.
Classy stuff (again) Mr B!
Oh, I’m hearing
film music again. Why
Not has the piano in a massive acoustic with a synthesizer wash
in the background and drums which, for the first time, sound mechanical.
The whole thing works because the snare constantly jerks you out
of the trance created by the piano/synth combination.
A mix with a more muted snare would be very sexy indeed!
This CD, in
Stanley’s words, “was created with lots of love and no money”.
The first part is obvious – the second is not.
Few people use technology this well to create a varied and
satisfying album. There are
original touches everywhere and it’s taken me a few plays to realise
that eight of the nine songs have an ending and don’t just fade out.
That’s good songwriting.
Stanley’s next album “Smile” is scheduled for release by October
2002. I hope I’ll be able
to hear it very soon. Watch
20202 – producer Stanley B