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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 whom 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...

Better known as Avis Hopkins, the sister of Bonnie Tyler, Amanda Scott released the tasty, if somewhat formulaic, single ‘Lies’ back in ‘87. A rather sprightly number, it brings to mind the likes of Robin Beck, Shandi and Sue Sadd et al. Produced by Barry Palmer, the erstwhile frontman for Satin Whale – no, I’m not making that name up – the B-side,

‘Experience’, is more of the same with both tracks having a slight whiff of stilton, but a good brand of stilton at that. It’s cheap, obviously, with the twelve inch containing an extra track.

Whilst The Truth may be better known as a Mod revival band, they lurched into the realm of AOR with their second and third albums, releasing a slew of singles as a result. From ‘The Weapon Of Love’ through to ‘Jealous Man’, The Truth made an excellent attempt at being an AOR outfit, but it was their ‘87 released single, ‘It’s Hidden’, that is arguably one of their finest hours. From the soundtrack to the film, ‘Hidden’, this could be an outtake from one of Robert Tepper’s early albums. It’s as cheap as chips, so get it bought.

Pulling together alumni of both Chinatown and Tokyo Blade, the melodic rock tour-de-force that was Shogun should have amounted to so much more. A brace of albums showed plenty of promise with their management backing them all the way. They even sent them to Los Angeles to record several songs under the guidance of Bob Ezrin (Kiss), to be issued as a single. The resulting version of ‘Voices Of The Heart’ is as Americanised as a British band can possibly get, with Ezrin pulling out all the AOR stops. Released in ‘88, it’s worth every penny of the pound you’ll pay for it!

The Oxfordshire based rock band Virtue released what is, in my eyes, one of the greatest ever Independent hard rock singles from a British band. ‘We Stand To Fight’ was released by Other Records in ‘85 and should have seen Virtue signed almost immediately. They

had interest from EMI, but aside from a three track demo, nothing further ever happened for the band. It’s interesting to note that both Matt Sheldon and Bozz (Beast) Bozlee would later appear as members of The Shock. The single itself has been known to go for over a thousand pounds, so best get saving if I were you.

The Ipswich based hard rock outfit Chaser were a relatively low key act that seemed to pass a lot of people by, including most record labels. Their only single, ‘Raiders’, was released in very limited quantities in ‘84 and saw the band promptly split up shortly after. In Metal Forces issue eleven they were described as “average, commercially tinged fodder”. To be honest this is one chase that isn’t worth the catch. Due to its limited release, it can command high prices.

Formed from the ashes of Norwich based Airbridge, the Prog Rock outfit LaHost released a rather quirky single in the shape of ‘Just Breaking Away’. Having appeared on the Prog sampler ‘Fire And Harmony’, LaHost recorded the single at studios that belonged to The Enid. The end results showed a band that wasn’t afraid to embrace both technology and different ideas into its songs. From early Gabriel to the New Romantics, it’s all here in this relatively cheap, but scarce single.

As a one-time member of Glam titans Girl, Gerry Laffy was responsible for several fabulous albums and singles. Almost a decade later and he’d gone solo, releasing an album and single for Die Laughing Records. The double A-side single, ‘Shoot Em Down/ Money And The Magic’, is a rather nifty two-tracker that was released in ’90. Unfortunately, it got drowned in the Grunge tsunami that followed, but it’s still well worth the couple of quid you’ll pay for it.

A rather interesting outfit with a Rush fixation would have to be the Cricklewood, London based band Flight. Released in ‘86 on Nebula Records, ‘Fighting The Flight’ is an homage to Canada’s finest in all but name. It’s B-side, ‘Survivor’, is a much better proposition and contains some very tasty guitar work from Steve Shipman. Whilst it’s easily available, it does command over the twenty pound mark.

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