Album Review of
The Solstice Session / Tracks Along the Way

Written by Mark Gallo
June 12, 2017 - 12:00am EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

Michael On Fire (Michael Colone) makes it clear that this is not a double CD but two separate discs in one package. Call it what you will, the music herein is wholly captivating and intelligent song writing from a master craftsman. Twenty albums into a career that has taken him from Detroit to Los Angeles to Nashville, he has been produced in the past by Stephen Stills, has recorded at Muscle Shoals Studios, and he has performed and recorded as a solo artist and as a band leader. Of the two albums gathered here, The Solstice Session is a look at Michael on Fire right now and Tracks Along the Way is an overview of the past 25 years. Both are riveting looks at a modern troubadour. He sometimes seems to be John Lennon-inspired, but is clearly his own man. No One To Kill, from The Solstice Session, is a particularly powerful song on which he sings “We rang all the bells all over the Earth/We did what we could whatever that’s worth/We burned all the uniforms fire for heat/Ain’t no other sides. Ain’t no one to beat.” Call Off The Dogs (“Better think fast. Better beware/Keep Your Eyes Open. Better take care/Strong concentration. Deep Meditation/True Concentration. You get a bad reputation”) and Evening In the Everglades (“Spanish Pirates. Spanish Moss/Hope we find the treasure/Found some comfort from the storm, also found some pleasure”) are standouts from this first set. On the Tracks Along the Way disc are a couple of songs that have gained the status of classics from his legion of fans: I’ll Make You a Drum (“Will you make me a drum. Will you make me a drum/So I can make thunder and bring back the sun”) and Chief Redbird’s Violin (“I learned to play the fiddle on Chief Redbird’s violin/Only wish I could play like him/Never even met the man but I could feel his soul/Every time I held his violin). Healing Waters (“The healing waters of the Great Spirit/heal the pain”) and the anthemic Whatever Happened to America (“Whatever happened to the big front porch” and to the corner store, and drive in and the PTA and radio and farmers, etc.)are also standouts in a collection rife with brilliant songs. Much of the lyrical content of his material is related to the earth, often from the perspective of the Native Americans. All of it is stimulating.

On both collections MOF surrounds himself with superb musicians and he plays acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, harmonica, banjo, bass and drums. Along for the ride are saxophonist David Reinstein, a friend and musical compatriot dating back 40 years, Bill Flores (lap and steel guitar, accordion, mandolin and dobro), Bear Erickson (electric and baritone guitar ad fretless bass), Tompeet Fredericksen (drums), the highly revered Jim Pugh (keys), Jack Joshua (bass), Tyson Leonard (violin), Tobias (drums and percussion), Ced Curtis (electric guitar), Stevie Ray Davis (electric guitar)James Ascenzo (bass, drums, percussion), Todd Glass (drums) and Jack Dryden (bass). The degree of musicianship is equal to the writing of MOF. Two vital albums in one package. Highly recommended