MICHAEL THOMPSON BAND – High Times: Live In Italy

The third album from Michael Thompson Band, 2019’s ‘Love & Beyond’ was a bit of a disappointment. The material showed that Thompson was still a fine guitarist and in AOR terms it featured a few strong songs, but it just didn’t flow too well. An over-reliance on short instrumental links proved distracting and each one of those sounded like a half finished musical idea thrown onto the record in order to bulk it out. It wasn’t a patch on 1989’s ‘How Long’, but then, it was never going to be as good as that. In AOR terms, that record is a very hard act to follow.

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LOVEKILLERS Feat. TONY HARNELL – Lovekillers Feat. Tony Harnell

TNT are one of those bands that are absolutely beloved by some melodic rock fans. Even into the 90s and against changing musical fashions, their late 80s albums ‘Tell No Tales’ (1987) and ‘Intuition’ (1989) continued to have some very vocal supporters. In lots of ways, it’s easy to see why since guitarist Ronnie Le Tekro always played in a very inventive way and in melodic metal terms, those albums carry a frightening amount of energy. None of that really matters if you were one of those people who didn’t really like Tony Harnell’s vocal style, of course. Much like the younger Geoff Tate, Harnell had a tendency to tackle everything at full pelt and with a huge banshee wail.

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STATE COWS – Challenges

State Cows have been making excellent westcoast/yacht rock music since 2010. Always unashamed in their retro-ness, the band have delighted fans across the world with various self-penned homages to Toto, Steely Dan and late 70s Doobie Brothers. There’s nothing obviously original about the Cows’ choice of style, but there’s no denying they do it better than most…and even after so many years, the fact that this most American of sounds was perfected somewhere in Sweden is a fact that still amazes.

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THE BABYS – On The Edge

With their third album, 1979’s ‘Head First’, The Babys finally gave the world a genre classic. Their first two albums weren’t short on great material, but occasionally wavered with a couple of lightweight tracks here and their which sometimes seemed to lessen the overall quality, especially from an AOR/melodic rock fan’s perspective. In ‘Head First’, it felt like the first time all of the pieces truly fit. Aside from a bizarre song where John Waite recounts a childhood visit to the dentist, pretty much everything on the album represented The Babys at their absolute best.

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THE BABYS – The Babys

Best remembered for big US hits ‘Isn’t It Time’ and ‘Every Time I Think of You’, British rock band The Babys have remained a cult favourite among AOR fans. The launching point of John Waite’s career, the band released a string of enjoyable albums between 1976-81 with their combination of fine 70s pop hooks and strong guitar driven melodies.

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