The Journal described the album as being about broken dreams and disappointments. This is reflected in the album's title track that that is first on the album. I think the track has a great atmosphere about it. Melody Maker said that 'SITC shows off Miles' incisive vocals best". Following this is "Slow Down" which became a disco rocker in the summer of 1977 with its "Philly soul style strings" per Record Collector. The fanzine "Zaragon" noted, "it had the beat, the production, the speed, the fury; but it had something else - a JM rocky touch to it, plus the unique voice box solo, an instrument JM has virtually made his own". Anyway "Slow Down" was the 3rd single released from the album (Manhattan Skyline being the 2nd ) and it did well reaching number 10 in the UK and 34 in the States. It was the first track to make it to 12" thanks to demand from the discos.
'Stand Up (and give me a reason)' is the epic track on the album, mixing elements of 'Music', 'Pull the Damn Thing Down' and 'Lady of My Life' In my opinion it has some terrific guitar work in it. "Time" is the first ballad on the album. It is a lovely song that John usually performs on his own in concert, allowing the band a break. It has also been covered by Walter Jackson, as has Manhattan Skyline. Manhattan Skyline, which was the 2nd single that unfortunately failed to chart follows. Melody Maker said it was a "smashing little tune with John's observations from his hotel room overlooking New York". I read in an interview with John that he and Bob were sitting in a hotel room discussing their first impressions of New York that inspired the song.
Of Glamour Boy Melody Maker said "wry comment on the superficialities of life for which Miles has little patience". Record Mirror noted that "its addictive synth line in the chorus and soaring vocals make it a natural single". This was echoed by a number of other reviewers although one felt that the US market might not get the meaning of the song. (apologies to any US readers offended by this). Anyhow the long and the short of it is that it wasn't released as a single and so it may have been a missed opportunity. However, had it been released perhaps Slow Down may not have been released.
'Do it Anyway', as noted earlier, was written by drummer Barry Black. New Musical Express said "Do it Anyway is jocular rock with attractive glassfinger guitar". I have no idea what this means!
Music Man is the last track on the original LP. Sounds said of the track, "Miles' guitar starts loitering with intent at the end of music man, mixing rough & smooth passages effectively." It is certainly a tremendous track. The line "he's a singer, he's a writer, a genuine exciter, he's a star" could have been written by Bob about John.
In conclusion, Stranger is a much looser album in feel to Rebel with more funky and less fully orchestrated than Rebel. I think it benefits from this, no disrespect to Alan Parsons or Andrew Powell.
My favourites are:
1) Manhattan Skyline I love the whole groove of this record. The soulful backing singers, the brass section and its funky rhythm. A timeless dance track. Very Stevie Wonderish in style. A mix of "Superstition" and "Livin' for the City". Just makes you feel like you are in NY.
2) Remember Yesterday A beautiful ballad that flows along, full of lovely imagery in the lyrics.
3) Music Man Makes me think of Leo Sayers "One Man Band" but this is far superior. Love the lyrics.
4)Stranger In the City Has a haunting quality and is tremendously clear and crisp. It seems so uncomplicated and uncluttered. Bobs lyrics are again super.
Stephen Carson

I've always loved this album (well, I love them all, but you know what I mean...) and picking just four favourites is very difficult, as there are so many great tracks. I always remember playing the title track and getting such a feeling of satisfaction because my Les Paul guitar sounded exactly the same as JMs does! Anyhow, here goes...
No. 1 has to be Stand Up (And Give Me A Reason) for me, because it's got everything: the lyrics are great, the guitar playing is awesome (the fast riff is a killer to play on guitar - I'd just love to see how JM does it, to see just where on the neck of the guitar he plays it, and the scat singing at the end just defies belief, especially when you listen to the live recordings and hear how brilliantly JM does this difficult thing in front of an audience. Even the opening guitar pattern is awkward to play when you've got to sing a different melody and timing over the top (I practised real hard until I got it...).
No. 2 is Remember Yesterday - what a beautiful ballad! I much prefer the full version, with the guitar lead break in it, as the shorter single version sounds truncated, which of course it is! I love to sing this because I can empathise with the lyric so much. I love the orchestral arrangement as well, over John's piano playing.
No. 3 is Music Man and it surely strikes a chord with all musicians! It also always reminds me of the naff video shot at the Albert Hall, where in this number the director goes for a very long shot - just when JM is playing his superb lead break... How dumb can directors get? The feel of the song is great, but I've always loved that nifty lead break at the end - what a finish to the album!
No. 4 will have to be Slow Down because it's one of the most recognisable tracks that includes a voice box (for the guitar break). When JM plays live, if he has a plastic tube taped to his microphone, chances are that he is going to do Slow Down (or possibly Heart Of Stone - but more of that when we get to the Play On album...!). It is such a catchy number, and the synth break is nifty too (by Gary Moberley - one of his best bits I reckon!). But again, the guitar break makes the song - it just climbs and motors along until it rips into that lead break: yes!
And that's it! Of course there are other great songs, and I found myself singing Manhattan Skyline everywhere we went whilst in New York, because of course we were staying in Manhattan: the skyline is unforgettable! But that's another track and another story...
Bimal Jangra

I'm late with my review of 'Stranger in the City', mainly because I usually find it hard to come up with favourites on a particular album. One of the reasons I usually buy whole albums rather than 'best-of collections' is that I love the diversity rather than just the main- stream 'hits'. Anyway, here are my favourites from 'Stranger in the City':
Remember Yesterday - I had to think for a while whether 'Remember Yesterday' or 'Time' is my favourite ballad on this album, as both are very strong songs with great melodic lines. I love the piano/vocals intro of 'Time' very much, but somehow the arrangement becomes to 'thick' for me after the first refrain. 'Remember Yesterday' also has some orchestral arrangement, but generally the band is more prominent here, which I like better. Also, I very much like the lyrics of that song. It's one of the songs where my own mind tends to drift away to things gone and over (but not completely lost).
Stand Up (and give me a reason) stands out as one of the more rockier songs on the disc. It still maintains a very cool vibe throughout the song, especially with the funky horns adding a lot to the groove. John seems to use his full vocal range in this one, I guess the song is the most progressive in the bunch. There's a lot going on in the instrumentation as well. I like the guitar work (great riff, and John doing vocals along to the solo is just great). Pretty good bass and drumming too, effectually driving the song, especially in the beginning. I would love to see John perfom this song live.
My third favourite would be the title track, 'Stranger in the City'. While Munich isn't anything like New York, it still feels strange sometimes to me, after living for five years here. So I can sympathize. The music has a way of sticking in my mind, and if asked to hum any melody from that album out of the blue I would most probably come up with 'Stranger in the City', especially as the guitar intro is kind of haunting.
There you have it. Other tracks I like are 'Do it anyway' (a more simple song, but carries a lot of energy and fun), 'Music Man' and 'Manhattan Skyline'.
One word about the bonus tracks on the CD: 'Man behind the Guitar' is pretty cool with its Led Zeppelin references. I also kind of like 'Sweet Lorraine', it is kind of wild. 'House on the Hill' could have come from Alan Parson's 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination' album, it has a bit of a scary touch about it.
Marcus Brenner

My top tracks on Stranger In the City
1. Slowdown - Great fast paced rocker . Something different that really sounds good. Love the wah wah thing.
2. Remember Yesterday - Nice lyrics in this one. Especially like the phrase " For someone who's been everywhere I've got no place to go". Did Marshall write the lyrics to these songs? OR did John and Marshall equally contribute?
3. Time - Ballad that stands up well. 4. Stranger In The City- Great song
Steven McIlveen

I have only had SITC for a few days, and realize that opinions are likely to change with familiarity. That said, here are my favorite four selections:
1)"Music Man" - Love the piano work and catchy rhythm. Simply put: It's hard to sit still listening to this one.
2)"Stand Up" This is such a complex arrangement. I especially like the building guitar bits between vocals and the jazzy bit at the end.
3) "SITC" He sets up such a mournful mood at times. It's irresistable. If I had one objection, it would be that I prefer his voice in a lower register, but that's nit picky. (And it's also why I didn't pick "Slow Down")
4) "Time" Such a straightforward, sweet ballad, and I love his voice on this. He does ballads so well. That's it from the non-musician balcony. I expect to hear more of why I liked these from the rest of you!
Jean Hickman

1) My number one on this album goes to Slow Down. I just love the disco rhythm, and, although the track has very little depth to the lyrics, the overall effect makes it very danceable. It was remixed and re-released in a DJ format by MultiMix, but even they were unable to add anything to the original effect.
2) Being a total sucker for a good ballad, Remember Yesterday comes a very close second. The whole arrangement suits the melancholy of the lyrics, as does John's voice. I never cease to marvel at the range of emotion he has available to him in his vocals.
3) Music Man is my third choice. This seems so autobiographical, and it comes over that John is singing from the heart. This is only one of several tracks he has recorded over the years which seem to reflect his life. The piano and guitar interludes are first class, matching in well with the brass backing.
4) Time comes in at number four. Again a beautiful ballad, but rather spoiled by a weak production. The entry piano and vocals sound too distant, although as soon as the orchestra comes in, things improve. Excellent lyrics, and once again John's voice matches the sentiments exactly. It is a song which can be equally effective with just a piano accompaniment, as several live renditions have shown.
All together, a very satisfying second album.
John Webster

1 Remember Yesterday- Just one of those songs that has the capacity to take you back to the time when it came out, a very personal choice for me as it was a key song in an important relationship at that time. Despite the eventual closing of that relationship, the song still makes me think back to the happy times, not the finish.
2 Slow Down- I am not a disco fan, but this song was the only one to get me on the dance floor. It has such energy, which never gives up. In concert the song took on a new life, being played with more guitar and giving it a rocky feel. A great closer to the live set, before the encores.
3 Manhattan Skyline- This would not have been in my original favourites list but over the last 25 years this song has continued to grow on me! I think it is because the arrangement sounds so up to date even now, in fact all of SITC is still fresh sounding today. I can just see somebody like Steps or Boyzone murdering it, but using it because it is such a good song with good hooks. What makes it one of John's best is the use of the Guitar throughout and the energy of his vocal performance
4 Stand Up- A solid rock song and shows off the band's strengths as well as John 's guitar playing, especially in the Keyboards/ Guitar duelling section. Another great live song
Richard Townsend

Having taken note of John's comments a couple of days ago regarding past album reviews, I've put my bunch together. As there are so many I haven't commented on the individual tracks (I'd be at it for hours), so with no further ado the run down is as follows:-
1) Remember Yesterday
2) Music Man
3) Stand Up And Give Me A Reason
4) Time
Zoë Pinchin

1) Manhattan Skyline
2) Remember Yesterday
3) Stand Up
4) Music Man
Chris Greenwood

After Zaragon, the next best for me and more difficult to choose one track against another, but these are about right...
1) Remember Yesterday
2) Music Man
3) Time
4) Stand Up
Neil Martlan

1) Remember Yesterday
2) Manhatten Skyline
3) Stand Up
4) Glamour Boy
Malcolm Leeves

1) Stranger In the City
2) Slowdown
3) Stand Up
4) Remember Yesterday
Dan McVeigh