If you follow the story of Ian Lloyd, then your journey will eventually lead you back to this album, the 1972 Stories debut.
Written by: Eric
LABEL: Kama Sutra Records
SERIAL: KSBS 2051
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Michael Brown – piano, harpsichord, organ, moog synthesizer * Ian Lloyd – lead vocals, bass * Steve Love – backing vocals, guitars * Bryan Madey – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Hello People * 02 I’m Coming Home * 03 Winter Scenes * 04 Step Back * 05 You Told Me * 06 St James * 07 Kathleen * 08 Take Cover * 09 Nice To Have You Here * 10 High and Low
For the history of Stories we need to go back way back to New York in the late 60’s and a group called Left Banke. You might remember this band via the massive selling single ‘Walk Away Renee’ which was a good indicator of the music they played – delicate Baroque pop led by studio wizard and pop master mind Michael Brown.
Very similar in attitude to The Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Brown hated touring, preferring to stay in the studio while the rest of the band hit the road. Left Banke only lasted a couple years but remain a quintessential piece of American pop music (little known fact, in his younger days Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler sang back up on two Left Banke tunes).
Brown continued to play the man in the shadows with his second project Montage releasing one album with this group, musically sounding very similar to Left Banke and quite good I might add.
Still, this band fell apart and Brown didn’t resurface until the early 70’s when he hooked up with vocalist Ian Lloyd. He had pipes similar to Rod Stewart with looks to match, yet unlike Stewart his range was greater, giving Brown a more colourful musical palette to work with and in 1972 the Stories debut was released.
With cover art complete with embossed logo sporting a band photo appropriately taken in a Harpsichord shop, Stories will immediately draw comparisons to The Faces on the opening two songs ‘Hello People’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’ which was a hit single for the band.
While both songs are very good, they really don’t define the Stories sound. They were much better at Beatles styled pop as on the wonderful ‘Winter Scenes’ featuring Brown’s delicate piano work bringing to mind ‘Abbey Road’ at its most progressive.
‘You Told Me’ and ‘Kathleen’ follows in a similar style featuring Michael Brown’s father on violin. ‘Nice To Have You Here’ updates the Left Banke‘s ‘Baroque pop’ sound with both Organ and Harpsichord taking the lead role while the closing ‘High And Low’, again takes us back to late period Beatles and is a stand out on this classic record.
This album was reissued on CD several years ago, but I am not certain if it was legit or not since I have never been able to locate a copy for my collection. You will have better luck finding an LP copy on eBay or Gemm.
Stories would release the Eddie Kramer produced ‘About Us’ in 1973 featuring the huge U.S single ‘Brother Louie’, culminating in an historic show at New York’s Carnegie Hall opening for The Raspberries, unfortunately without Michael Brown who left the group during the recording of the album.
Lloyd would carry on for a third album, ‘Traveling Underground’ as Ian Lloyd and Stories which included Kenny Aaronson, Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise from hard rock legends Dust.
The album was more of a progressive rock influenced affair and shortly after it was released future Starz guitarist Richie Ranno would join the group for a short time on the subsequent tour and recorded some studio material that has never officially been released.
Stories split up in 1974 and Lloyd went solo releasing a handful of decent albums all of which seem to include Foreigner members for one reason or another and Lloyd himself appears on Foreigner‘s debut singing back up on the evergreen ‘Feels Like The First Time’.
The first two Stories albums are a necessity in any American pop music collection and if you are a fan of the early 70’s proponents of this style i.e. The Raspberries and Blue Ash then I suggest doing whatever it takes to get your hands on these superb recordings.