Essential Series - Purist AOR Vol 4

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited November 2020 in Essential Series

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ARTICLE:The Essential Series - Purist AOR Volume 4, by Gdazegod)
YEAR: 2019

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

Background

This latest volume I managed to rattle off in close succession to the recent volume 3. I had a surplus of albums written up so I decided to carry on until I reached my quota of ten.

It's interesting that a pattern is emerging in all selections, in that most (if not all) are centered between 1980 and 1989. This is based mainly on the sheer weight of numbers of releases that came out during this decade, no more no less.

I will try to get to the late 70's and early 90's releases in future volumes. There are one or two outside of those time frames that could fit the bill (like 2011's 'The Magnificent') but for now, we'll just see what falls out of the 80's decade as there is still so much more to cover.

The Albums

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Shooting Star - 1985 Silent Scream
This was the end of the first era for mid-west AOR greats Shooting Star. 'Silent Scream' was the band's only release for Geffen Records, and according to the late Van McLain, signing with them was a huge management mistake. After this, Gary West departed the band and the industry altogether. Despite this setback, 'Silent Scream' was a decent record and proved to be the great last hurrah of their first era.

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Shooting Star - Summer Sun


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Michael Thompson Band - 1989 How Long
Previously heard on the Jeff Paris album 'Wired Up', guitar god Michael Thompson delivered a near flawless set of AOR that set my senses alight back in 1989. This whole album is full of good songs, while the extended guitar solo on 'Give Love A Chance' is pure genius.

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MTB - Wasteland


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Virginia Wolf - 1986 Virginia Wolf
I used to play this album quite a bit back in 1986, but didn't really appreciate how good it was until years later. They lasted until 1987 and left us with two decent albums of Americanised AOR originating out of Manchester England.
There's a lot more to the VW story than just two albums, refer our interview with Nick Bold where he goes into more detail.

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Virginia Wolf - Living On A Knifes Edge


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Cobra - 1983 First Strike
Another of my Shades imports from 1983. A fusion of Memphis stalwarts Jimi Jamison and Jack Holder, plus three blokes from Switzerland: Armand 'Mandy' Meyer, Jeff Klaven and Tommy Keifer. I loved the album then, and I still do now. This was their only studio album, though there is a live bootleg released prior to this one. 'Looking At You' and 'I've Been A Fool Before' are both A-Grade tracks.

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Cobra - Blood On Your Money


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King Kobra - 1986 Thrill Of A Lifetime
Born of the Sunset Strip and peroxide hair-dos, with the exception of Carmine Appice of course. Arguably their first two albums were the best, though they did release three other studio efforts in 1988, 2011 and 2013. It's this one 'Thrill Of A Lifetime' that gets my pulse racing. Many of the tracks do contain the 'thrill' factor. Time to get reacquainted me thinks.

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King Kobra - Overnight Sensation


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Frozen Ghost - 1987 Frozen Ghost
This was the pairing of the two ex Sheriff members in Arnold Lanni and Wolf Hassel, and what a fine album this one is! It sounds nothing like Sheriff, and we could have easily bundled this album into our recent Hi-tech AOR Volume 1 article if we wanted to. I first heard this on a University radio broadcast and I was immediately hooked! Tracks like 'Love Like A Fire', 'Should I See' (both with killer sax solos) and the super melodic 'Soldiers Cry' always do it for me. I wasn't so hooked on their two follow-up albums, but this one is great.

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Frozen Ghost - Should I See


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Talk Of The Town - 1988 Talk Of The Town
Within this volume, these are the only Swedes that get a mention, but no doubt there will be more from that Scandi treasure trove. The history books will show that this band should've been called 'Cream Of The Crop', because that's really what this album is! Singer Thomas Vikstrom owns this collection of songs like a boss! 'Free Like A Eagle', 'Sing All Together' and 'Undercover Love' sets the tone for one of 1988's best AOR albums.

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Talk Of The Town - Free Like An Eagle


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Silver Condor - 1981 Silver Condor
This was the 1981 debut from the Joe Cerisano led Silver Condor. It veers more toward FM/radio rock though can easily be ring-fenced into the AOR corral. The album is highlighted by the superb 'You Could Take My Heart Away' though there are other tracks which fill the spaces quite nicely. Back in 1981 it kinda missed the radar of many despite the big-ticket CBS label, but not us! Strangely, it's one of the few remaining AOR must-have's to never be officially released on CD. Come on, it's 2019, someone please come to the party!

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Silver Condor - You Could Take My Heart Away


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Charlie - 1983 Charlie
British band Charlie released a brace of albums during the late 70's, but I only cottoned on to them from about 1981 onwards. This is their self-titled 1983 album which won a few admirers at the time. Terry Wilson Slesser, previously with Crawler, adds his vocal prowess here, while songs like 'It's Inevitable', 'Playing To Win', 'You're Everything I Need', and 'This Time' makes for a perfect combo.

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Charlie - You're Everything I Need


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Keats - 1984 Keats
Keeping things English are the one-off wonders Keats. Named after a restaurant and not a great literary wordsmith! I'll have you know. The band features singer Colin Blunstone, plus members from the Alan Parsons Project, Scots Pilot and Camel. Keats are not as progressive or symphonic as many people are led to believe. Listen to tracks such as 'Fight To Win' or 'Turn Your Heart Around' for evidence. The rest of the album is similar. It's another that could do with some Rock Candy reissue TLC.

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Keats - Turn Your Heart Around

In Summary

It's a fascinating exercise putting one of these articles together. As soon as you finish it, there are more contenders that immediately jump out at you, and suddenly, you have another ten albums ready for the next volume. I will endeavour to include more albums from outside of the 80's decade; this I am sure we can easily achieve, seeing as we have an online library's worth of content to fall back on. Keep them coming I hear you say!


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