It is a bunch of AOR and some classic rock on offer this week.
Michael Des Barres is back with another re-release Somebody Up There Likes Me. This album consists of songs that are a bit like old Rod Stewart before he discovered the American songbook. Des Barnes’ voice has that soulful gruff edge to it made so popular in the 1980s. And this album is steeped in that era, which makes sense as it was released originally in 1986, with heavy lashings of sax for good measure. This is anything but hard rock, while not being middle of the road bland. Andy Taylor of Duran Duran and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols lend their guitars to this release.
Hartmann have released two blasts from the past, one a best of The Best is Yet to Come and the other a re-release of their debut called Out in the Cold +1. Both of these releases are a good introduction to the band and the man behind it, Oliver Hartmann. He launched his solo career after a four-album stint with At Vance. Hartmann the band is far more AOR than the power metal of At Vance. However, the songwriting remains first rate. It is no surprise they were asked to open for Toto as there is a certain synergy between their sounds. “What if I” is just one example of the great stuff on these albums.
Niva offer up Magnitude, which is quite the slick slab of AOR goodness. Niva is the solo band of Swedish AOR rocker Tony Niva, most known for his work with Swedish Erotica. This release is re-launch of Niva’s self-titled band. There is little to fault on this tightly produced record. It just seeps with Scandirock. “Spanish Lullaby” is quite the track, unless its plot has happened to you of course. Tracks like “Never Say Goodbye” have that catchy chorus so common in this brand of rock, the type that sticks in your head.
Rainbow have yet another live release out called Black Masquerade and this one features Dougie White as lead singer. The album is culled from the tour that followed the release of Stranger in Us All back in 1995. This was Richie Blackmore’s last gasp as a heavy rocker, before heading off in medieval balladry with Blackmore’s Night. The studio album was not bad and Richie is certainly in fine form on here. Tracks like “Ariel” and “Wolf to the Moon” (included on this live album) show off the studio album’s best. This is not a bad live release and the sound quality is top rate. White does an excellent job at handling all the tracks from whatever era of Richie’s career. A good summation to the final era of Blackmore’s electric guitar career.
Enjoy the AOR goodness as you stay safe and rocking this week.