TOBY HITCHCOCK – Reckoning

Toby Hitchcock first came to prominence in the early 2000s as frontman with Pride of Lions, a melodic rock band masterminded by Survivor legend Jim Peterik. With a combination of big performances and old style AOR hooks, the band found an instant fan base within the AOR community, despite treading a very familiar musical path. Outside of that band, Hitchcock has also achieved cult success with an on/off solo career and, if anything, his 2011 solo debut ‘Mercury’s Down’ featured performances that were even more bombastic.

His second solo album – 2019’s ‘Reckoning’ – offers fans exactly what they want, in that its eleven tracks couple some huge melodic rock sounds with an even bigger vocal. For those who love Toby, the album is probably everything they could ever wish for…and more. For the many who find his approach too big, it might be another album that fails to convince at first, but it’s worth persevering with since most of the material knocks spots off 2011’s ‘Mercury’s Down’.

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RED DAWN – Never Say Surrender

After leaving Rainbow in the mid-80s, keyboard player David Rosenthal began writing songs with a budding AOR singer named Mitch Malloy. The sessions produced some fantastic material, but circumstances changed and recording sessions for a proposed album were abandoned. Malloy subsequently recorded a solo album (a self-titled release, it was soon considered a melodic rock essential) and Rosenthal set about forming a permanent band. The new band, Red Dawn, saw David drafting in a familiar face in drummer Chuck Burgi – a trusted friend from his Rainbow days – and ex-USA vocalist Larry Baud. For those who heard it, their one and only album, 1993’s ‘Never Say Surrender’ would ultimately change the landscape of 90s melodic rock forever.

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STATE OF SALAZAR – Superhero

When they unleashed their debut ‘All The Way’ in 2014, Scandinavian melodic rockers State of Salazar released one of the year’s best albums. With some great choruses and tunes that often paid a massive homage to the mighty Toto, the band hit upon a classic retro style that really tapped into the Swedes’ knack for a melody. The next couple of years came and went. The more time passed, the more it felt like there would never be a follow up.

A four year silence was finally broken in September 2018. First, the band announced they’d be appearing at the Frontiers Rock Sweden festival with label mates Eclipse and Crazy Lixx, but better still, a digital single ‘If You Wait For Me’ appeared on YouTube. Not only were State of Salazar back, but it seemed they were about to make a real impact within the AOR community.

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SNAKES IN PARADISE – Step Into The Light

Back in the mid 90s when melodic rock was going through a bit of a purple patch with regards to independent releases, Scandinavian Whitesnake obsessives Snakes In Paradise released two excellent records in the classic rock mould; albums which owed so much to David Coverdale and company, yet came with their own European charm largely thanks to vocalist Stefan Berggren, one of the best voices in the business at that time. After the demise of Snakes In Paradise, Berggren made a very logical move and joined Company of Snakes, a band featuring ex-Whitesnake members Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Neil Murray which, as you’d expect, drew more heavily from the ‘Snake’s enduring legacy.

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REO Speedwagon to release ‘Early Years’ box set in September

For melodic rock fans, REO Speedwagon are a much-loved band. Their massive 80s hits ‘Keep On Loving You’, ‘Take It On The Run’ and ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’ are genre classics…and for good reason. As bigger fans know, there’s always been more to the band than the 80s sheen of their career peak.

In the 70s, the band released a string of albums containing rockier material which, despite shifting band line ups, is every bit as entertaining as their better known material. Those earlier albums were host to more than their share of REO classics and tracks like ‘Ridin’ The Storm Out’ and ‘Time For Me To Fly’ have remained part of the live set for decades.

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