Thats The Way
An eyebrow or two went up when it was announced that Texas-native Michael Morales was the slated headliner for the second night at Ultrasound 2000. Morales is, more recently, regarded as a top-notch producer than a active stage act. However, he gained a number of converts as his tight little three piece ripped the roof off the Alexus Park theater.
Morales and his band, Dave Franklin on bass (a talented writer himself) and Alex Tamez on drums (a rare, rock-solid, reliable drummer who also plays with Chris Perez Band-Selenas husband) are touring in support of his recent release Thats The Way, a disc that is fueled by full-scale production, crafty songs and expert delivery. At times Moraless voice drifts into Smithereens territory (Where Does Love Live?) but for the most part sticks closer to Def Leppard (Better Way, Thats The Way, Blood) or Bryan Adams (Change The World, No Tomorrow). That said, his originality is unmistakable in What Kind Of Fool, Maria and No Way Out.
Michaels production work with his brother Ron has reached epic proportions. They have been nominated for five Grammys, winning three. Their San Antonio recording complex, Studio M, has produced an impressive string of Top 40 hits and platinum sellers for pop and latin bands such as Emilio Navaira, The Texas Tornadoes and La Diferenzia. Their engineering credit on Selenas 1993 'Live' album garnered them critical praise, a Grammy win and magnified their profile.
Morales began his musical career in high school, fronting the popular Texan band THE MAX. After graduating and touring for a number of years with THE MAX, he was signed by Wing Records, home to Vanessa Williams, Tone, Tony, Toni, and a subsidiary to PolyGram, where he released two solo albums: Michael Morales (1989) and Thump (1991). His hits have appeared multiple times in the Top 20 section of Billboard Magazines prestigious HOT 100. They have crossed over from the US to Europe, Japan and Latin America and are still wildly popular today. His singles Who Do You Give Your Love To? (Billboard #14) and I Dont Wanna See You are classic slices of radio friendly pop rock often compared, in sound, to Rick Springfield and Richard Marx.
Even with his success, the state of the music industry in the early 90s changed for many artisit including Morales. "While my PolyGram deal was souring, a bunch of new tunes hit me," says Morales in our recent conversation. "I recorded them but decided to shelf them (at least until the grunge thing ended). The industry tends to follow trends and I didnt want to waste those songs. MTM came along and asked what I had in the can." He then turned over what was packaged and titled Thats The Way.
Reception to the newly released material has been outstanding. The pendulum in rock is starting to sway back towards harder rock music opening the door for the Morales sound. "My music will always be rock," he says. "Usually, a song dictates how it wants to be produced. Ive listened to a lot of what Mutt (Lange) does. He and Def Leppard make great records and I think hes the greatest producer of our time."
Michaels return to the spotlight as a singer and performer is an exciting comeback. His taste for catchy melodies backed by a contemporary rock format keeps him edgy and fluid. "I have a few songs that I am really excited about now," he says. With the popularity of Thats The Way and a white-hot live set Morales is once again center stage.
Added note: On March 11, 1999, Michael Morales was inducted to the San Antonio Music Hall of Fame.
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