CCM-687-2 Collector’s Choice Music (2006)
As popular as the Michael Stanley Band was in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s in Northern Ohio, McGuffey Lane was just as popular in the central and southern part of the state. In fact, looking back on it now, there probably weren’t two more popular regional bands in the whole country at the time than Ohio’s two native sons.
McGuffey Lane also had a strong following in Northern Ohio, fueled by kids who went off to college in central Ohio from the Cleveland area and brought their music back home with them. They started out doing occasional weekend engagements at the old Peobody’s in Cleveland Heights, and soon would sell out shows at the old Agora on East 24th Street. During the summer they would open up for the Marshall Tucker Band, the Allman Brothers, and the Charlie Daniels Band at Blossom during the glory days of country rock.
The four albums McGuffey Lane did for Atlantic Records in the 80’s are finally available on CD, thanks to the good people at Collector’s Choice Music, one of Rhino Records’ labels. They are packaged two albums on one CD, with their self-titled 1980 effort and 1981’s Aqua Dream on one disc, and Let the Hard Time’s Roll (1982) and Day by Day (1984) on another. The packaging includes the original artwork from the original albums, and enjoyable liner notes written by long time lead guitarist/vocalist John Schwab.
The first disk contains many of the band penned originals from their days as the house band in the late 70’s at the old Zachariah’s Red Eye Saloon, which was located on High Street directly across from the Ohio State campus, and was the center of the live music scene in Columbus at the time. The second disk contains the songs from their time as a national touring band in the 80’s, and has more of a Nashville sound to it.
There is wonderful stuff on both disks from a band that had three talented singer/songwriters, featured several terrific musicians (especially steel guitarist Terry Efaw and keyboardist/harmonica whiz Tebes Douglass), and possessed a unique country rock sound with more than a touch of bluegrass and traditional rock and roll thrown into the mix. When the band members came of age and picked up their first instruments as early teens in the 60’s, Columbus was the Mason-Dixie line of the radio industry. These guys grew up on the Beatles, Stones, and Beach Boys played on the AM radio giants in the north, but also listened to George Jones, Hank Snow, Bill Monroe, and a lot of other traditional artists on country stations form the south not heard on the radio above Interstate 70 in the East or Midwest. All of these influences can be heard in the music found on both of these disks.
Signature concert favorites like “People Like You,” “Green Country Mountains,” “Stay in Love with You,” and “Outlaw Rider,” as well as their first national charted single “Long Time Loving You,” can be found on the first disk. Three songs that made it to the Country Top 100 highlight the second disk, “Making a Living (Has Been Killing Me),” Day by Day,” and “The First Time.”
The band would deal with several tragic personal losses, and the glory days of country rock faded away. However, even without much of their music available on CD the last twenty years, the band’s fans have never really forgotten them or their music. The surviving members of the band still play out 40 to 50 times a year, including headlining at many fairs and festivals throughout the Ohio Valley region, and also an annual reunion show in Columbus each January. To check out more about McGuffey Lane visit their website at www.mcguffeylane.com. If you were one of their fans back in the day, or a fan of country rock in general, pick up either of these new releases. You will not be disappointed.