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Essential Series – Purist AOR Volume 3

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Here is Volume 3 of The Essential Series – Purist AOR.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTICLE:Essential Series – Purist AOR Volume 3
YEAR: 2019


The previous two Essential Series volumes were written back in 2017 and 2018. Suffice to say, GDM has been busy doing other things since, and with yours truly leaving city life behind, life hasn’t been quite the same since. However, there is always room to write these Essential Series concerning our favourite sub-genre of rock, so here’s another volume of 10. And also, we won’t leave it so long to get the next installment out.

The Albums

FM – 1986 Indiscreet

My LP of this I bought from the long lost Record Exchange in St Kevin’s Arcade, located on Karangahape Road in Auckland’s CBD. A cracking debut record from this London band, and probably (like Bon Jovi) my favourite of theirs even after a long and lengthy career which continues today. The bluesy side of their music though apparent, wasn’t really in evidence here. It would rear its head in the early 90’s. ‘Indiscreet’ is chockful of AOR delights. There are slight differences between the original LP and CD releases. I prefer the LP myself. One of the UK’s finest ever AOR albums.

FM – That Girl

FM "that girl"

LRB – 1984 Playin’ to Win

This album signalled a huge change in LRB’s sound, in comparison to their prior albums under the Little River Band moniker. Aussie vocal icon John Farnham is on the money here, so too keyboardist/producer David Hirschfelder. With backing from the Spencer Proffer/Pasha group, ‘Playin’ To Win’ had all the makings of success, though it didn’t quite make it to home base. Still, it’s a magical record all round. Give It a whirl.

LRB – Playin’ To Win

Little River Band - Playing To Win (1984)

Giuffria – 1984 Giuffria

With all the recent talk about Angel on the GDM forums, it’s time to add this beauty to the Volume 3 list. Some of L.A’s finest musicians assemble for this AOR slice of heaven. We don’t need to mention names. We know who they all are. Both their studio albums should be compulsory acquisitions to your GDM approved collection or playlist.

Giuffria – Don’t Tear Me Down

Giuffria : Don't Tear Me Down

Magnum – 1985 On A Storytellers Night

This was the first ever Magnum record added to my collection. I picked up everything else soon after. Seems I joined onto to the Catley/Clarkin bandwagon at the right time. I loved everything about this record, the amazing Mark Stanway adds all the right touches at the right moments. Huge in the UK and Europe, they could never quite convince the American audiences unfortunately. The follow-up ‘Vigilante’ is also a fine effort.

Magnum – Just Like An Arrow

Magnum - Just Like An Arrow

Diving For Pearls – 1989 Diving For Pearls

This album is so good, it even made the overall Top 20 List of best albums for 1989 in Kerrang Magazine! ‘Diving For Pearls’ oozes class every which way you turn. It’s a pity they only lasted a short while (ignoring 2005’s comeback album for Atenzia Records). No doubt, DFP was one of 1989’s best albums in what was a great year.

Diving For Pearls – Gimme Your Good Lovin’

Diving For Pearls - Gimme Your Good Lovin'

Aviator – 1986 Aviator

Long praised in our community as a rare musical jewel. It could easily sit in the AOR or melodic hard rock bucket; we’ll stick it here in the meantime. Blessed by a crisp Neil Kernon production, tight but robust songs along with stellar musicianship, ‘Aviator’ has it all. As of 2019, it’s just been recently reissued by Rock Candy Records. What more can you ask for?

Aviator – Come Back

Come Back

Balance – 1982 In For The Count

Another GDM poster child are New York legends Balance. This second album has been lauded as one of the greats of the AOR genre and rightly so. Most of the tracks here will bowl you over, and you simply have to put the thing into rewind mode to appreciate its greatness. ‘Undercover Man’. Woah!

Balance – Undercover Man

Undercover Man - BALANCE

Giant – 1989 Last Of The Runaways

Another highlight for 1989, and an album that spawned a few tracks into the charts too. Guitar god Dann Huff was the man of the hour, and who knew he had a voice in the same league as Lou Gramm? OMG! Simply subline stuff.

Giant – I’ll See You In My Dreams

Giant - I'll see you in my dreams

Foreigner – 1981 4

The year 1981 saw Foreigner return for their fourth and most successful album of their career, after taking 1980 off following 1979’s ‘Head Games’ album and tour. A slight change in direction here; more keyboards and of course, a huge hit single in ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’, and an anthem for our times: ‘Jukebox Hero’.

Foreigner – Jukebox Hero

Foreigner - Juke Box Hero (Official Music Video)

SPYS – 1982 SPYS

You couldn’t really talk about pure AOR without namedropping this two album band out of Long Island, NY. Perhaps because of its impact on the scene, the 1982 debut lands slightly ahead of the mark than the 1983 follow-up ‘Behind Enemy Lines’. Both albums are wonderful regardless. After recently backfilling our old 2002 interview with John Blanco and John DiGaudio, it’s time to shine some love on this band once again.

SPYS – She Can’t Wait

SPYS She Can't Wait (Official Music Video)

In Summary

Writing this article for the Essential Series Volume 3 made me realise there are hundreds more contenders to be added to future volumes (of ten). In preparation for Volume 4, I have already begun scoping out some of these contenders for readiness, and we’ll not leave the next edition/volume for another two years. That would not do!

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