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Rob Evans delves into the world or rare AOR vinyl…

Welcome to The Vinyl Countdown, a haven for all you crate diggers out there, the ones for who Discogs, Ebay and Musicstack are their virtual best friends. I’m like a vinyl detective, leaving no box unturned and finding you the Melodic Rock gems your collection has been crying out for.

A rather wonderful curio of a band that was recently sent my way would have to be the brace of singles by Pop/Rock act, One Hand One Heart. They had the might of Epic at their disposal, releasing both singles in ‘88, and came across like Sumo Giants, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran in places. There’s some wonderful footage over on YouTube with their later material from ‘89 sounding even better. You’ll pick both of these singles up for a couple of quid, making them bargains that you can’t afford to ignore.

With a logo that looks like it’s been pilfered from Van Halen, the Essex band VHF was far removed from Roth and company. Their solitary single from 1980, ‘Heart Of Stone’, is a rambunctious affair that lacks direction and has some quite horrendous falsetto vocals, whilst it’s B-side, ‘Cheatin’ Stealin’’, is far easier on the ear and reminds me of a slowed-down ‘One Of These Days’ by Trespass. It’s bloody expensive as well, so only pick it up if it’s cheap.

Releasing the somewhat delightful ‘Nobody’ on Foxy Records, the UK band Venice is not to be confused with their Californian namesakes. Whilst I know very little about this outfit, I can tell you that the A-side is a rather enjoyable slice of AOR from 1983 that could have sat nicely on a Charlie or Runner album, whilst the B-side unfortunately is utter bilge. It rarely appears, but goes for under a fiver when it does.

And talking of Runner, the Anglo-American AOR outfit were responsible for several fabulous slices of AOR, with their ‘79 single, ‘Fooling Myself’, standing at the top of the pile. Featuring Dave ‘Duck’ Dowle (Whitesnake) and Alan Merrill (Arrows), this absolutely superb song would have been tailor-made for Sir Michael Bolton in the early 80s. Their debut album is well worth investigating and this single is the perfect place to start.

Folkestone’s Denigh were originally put together in the late 70s, but didn’t release their rather wonderful two-tracker, ‘No Way’, until 1980. Its obvious right from the opening bars that this lot were heavily influenced by Dianno era Iron Maiden and the NWOBHM. The B-side, ‘Running’, is more Hard Rock in its approach and reminds me of Virtue at times. It’s on the Ace label and isn’t cheap, with copies easily going for thirty quid plus.

The London based Atlantis Rising desperately wanted to be part of the Neo-Prog uprising that was being spearheaded by the likes of Marillion, Pallas, Pendragon et al. Their two track single, ‘Tightrope’, is a wonderful keyboard driven track that pushes them into the realms of Chemical Alice, early Marillion and Northern Ireland’s Winter. Copies can be quite expensive at around the forty quid mark, but are worth it.

Another collectible gem for the Prog aficionado would have to be Galahad’s rather whimsical debut single from 1987. Entitled ‘Dreaming From The Inside’ it saw the English band almost five years too late to the Neo-Prog party, but they make a good go of it nonetheless. In their early days they reminded me of bands like IQ and Ark, quirky and stereotypically English by design. You can expect to pay over forty quid for this.

The names of Mike and Glenn Scrimshaw may sound like they belong in a Monty Python sketch, but alongside Pat Coleman they belonged to the band Limelight, a power trio with a vague Rush fixation in their later years. The likes of ‘Metal Man’ saw the Nottingham band frantically powering their way through their debut recording, whilst ‘Hold Me, Touch Me’ is best forgotten. I once saw these boys opening for Saxon many moons ago and they were quite impressive live. Expect to pay under a tenner for this.

Whilst both Gary Sharpe and Chris Ousey would form Heartland in the late eighties – Sharpe, like Ousey, had a melodic past that few people know about. As part of the Manchester band Monroe, Sharpe cut a full album that is well worth seeking out and a solitary single in ‘You Can’t Trust A Woman’, with both appearing on Polydor in 1980. I’d certainly buy the album if you see it, but the single is rather cheap and maybe a better introduction? 

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