Often associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, glam rock band Girl formed in London in 1979. Gaining a following on the live circuit, they quickly signed to Don Arden’s Jet Records – home to Electric Light Orchestra and Magnum – and released their debut album ‘Sheer Greed’ the following year. Decades on, if ‘Sheer Greed’ is mentioned at all, it’s by association. The band’s frontman, Philip Lewis, later joined L.A. Guns and guitarist Phil Collen replaced Pete Willis in Def Leppard, first appearing on the band’s third album – 1983’s multi-million selling ‘Pyromania’. Girl were always a reasonably good band in their own right, of course, and although by no means perfect, ‘Sheer Greed’ has enough good moments to remind listeners why they perhaps deserve a little more credit of their own.
In the nineties, melodic rock was going through an interesting phase. People with narrow musical tastes tell you the “scene had been killed by grunge” (yes, that old chestnut – how boring AOR fans can be), but the fact is, with AOR and melodic rock being driven to independent labels, between 1993 and 1999 the scene actually produced some of its best music since 1989. Labels like Now & Then released unmissable discs by Crown of Thorns, Cannata, Ten and Shotgun Symphony; Long Island gave the world the second – and best – Heartland album, and further out on the fringes, labels like Z Records, Megarock and Empire some great albums too, including releases by Mark Spiro, Snakes In Paradise and Jekyll & Hyde. Regardless of what some people might claim, the scene was far from dead…it had just migrated.
LoneRider is a supergroup of sorts, as it brings together a few well known faces from the world of melodic rock. Another musical union between FM vocalist Steve Overland and Heartland guitarist Steve Morris, the band already has a great pedigree since both musicians released some fine music under the Shadowman name as well as with their main recording acts. For fans of both parties, expectations for a new project were already high, but LoneRider’s debut ‘Attitude’ exceeds everything Shadowman had released to date…and at least half of FM’s own work.
Between the release of First Signal’s 2016 album ‘One Step Over The Line’ and 2019’s ‘Line of Fire’, the band’s core members kept themselves very busy. Vocalist Harry Hess recorded another album with his “day job” band, Harem Scarem (2017’s ‘United’); guitarist Michael Palace released his second band album with Palace – the appropriately named ‘Binary’ – and Daniel Flores returned to The Murder of My Sweet, releasing ‘Echoes of the Aftermath’ on Frontiers Records in 2017. In addition during those intervening three years, Flores and Palace scored themselves jobs as invaluable members of the Frontiers “house band”, lending their talents to releases by Toby Hitchcock, Find Me and Code Red. There’s almost been no time for them to sleep.
The Michael Thompson Band’s 1989 album ‘How Long’ is often considered one of the landmark releases of 80s AOR. A near perfect release, its slick pop-rock sound and songs co-written with Mark Spiro captured the ears of a generation of fans. The album became increasingly hard to find on CD until a Frontiers Records reissue made the masterpiece available to all once again in 2007. Such a reissue should have been met with much enthusiasm. However, not only did the reissue sound inferior compared to the master used for the original Geffen release, but it was also sullied by the addition of a few contemporary bonus tracks which only lessened the overall quality. A brand new release the same year – TRW, teaming Thompson with vocalist Mark Williamson and noted session man John Robinson (one time of AOR band Bridge 2 Far) – was enjoyed by some fans, but in terms of sheer quality it just didn’t equal Thompson’s late 80s peak.