The Story of Stories or Going for Baroque!!

Hold your applause, please. If you must show appreciation for The Music Nerd’s very brief re-appearance on this site I would prefer you throw money in my South Easterly direction. And if not money, grab your good-looking sister or your hot girlfriend, attach the required amount of stamps to her butt and mail her to Charlotte, North Kakalacki. I’ll take it from there.

But, seriously folks, I am actually here to give you the lowdown (so you can throwdown) about a band name Stories.

Featuring certified musical genius Michael Brown (he of the legendary Left Banke and writer of their classic hits “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina” and also of even more obscure pop band Montage and that band’s eponymously titled long-playing masterpiece)the band Stories evolved out of a solo project Brown was starting for the Kama Sutra label. The label had signed Brown in 1971 because the label wanted an instrumental album that would marry the contemporary rock at the time with Brown’s baroque classical influences, hopefully culminating in an album that would distill the best of The Left Banke and Montage together in one hopefully chart-busting album.

Little was produced save two songs for an obscure movie soundtrack until the talented Ian Lloyd was introduced into the mix, however. Lloyd, a masterful bassist, lyricist and singer, sparked Brown’s muse. Brown has always done his most incredible work as part of a collaborational process and Lloyd managed to fit the bill perfectly.

The new band Stories was quickly rounded out by two of Lloyd’s friends and an album was released by 1972. The eponymously named, self-produced album perfectly exhibited the label’s desired mix between a more modern rock sound mixed with shadows of Brown’s former bands. Featuring ten new Brown compositions, anyone interested in classic songwriting in the Beatles and Raspberried mode will no doubt cream their jeans when listening to this great album.

Though it wasn’t a hardy seller, the band was excited with all of the critical praise bestowed onj them and started work on their next album, hoping to finally score a decent hit.

Sadly, it would not quite work out the way the band had envisioned. About halfway through self-producing their second album noted producer/engineer Eddie Kramer was hired by the record company to oversee the rest of the album’s tracks. While Kramer’s talent in the producer’s chair is reknowned, the band (anbd especially Brown) balked at having their control taken away from them. With Kramer’s style being a little too hands-on for Brown’s taste, Brown soon quit the band.

Surprisingly, that second album “About Us,” is even better than the first Stories album. With a tad more modern rock tendencies, the band found the perfect recipe for it’s music. Brown’s baroque touches gave the album a different feel than most of the boogie/blooze on the charts at the time and, although he left the band by the time the album was released, he still appeared on most of the songs.

Surprisingly, the band’s classic hit “Brother Louie” originally did not appear on this album. Recorded as a stop-gap single, after the song became a worldwide smash it was added to subsequent pressings of the album. It’s actually a cover of a UK hit by the band Hot Chocolate, and the song eventually rose to near top of the charts in many countries and became Stories only hit record.

Splintered, the band only made one more album (a disappointing disc larded with attempts to remake “Brother Louie”) before calling it quits. Both Lloyd and Brown have kept very low-profile careers since, Lloyd releasing the occasional solo album and Brown only appearing on only two other albums, with a group called The Beckies in 1976 and singer Yvonne Vitale in 1994. Though it is rumored Brown has been finishing another album with a reconstitutued Left Banke, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

The Austrailian reissue label Raven has recently put the first two Stories albums together on one disc and any fans of Beatlesque pop with baroque leanings will fall in love with Stories’ work. It’s one incredible disc with all the best of the band on display. I can guarantee it won’t leave my CD player for a long time. Do yourself a favor and pick it up!!