For The Fans Of The Melodic Side Of Rock And Metal: 100 Melodic Rock/AOR/Glam Metal albums from the 80s (Prologue: Albums Released Before 1980)

This is a MyTake series dedicated to the lovers of the melodic sound of Rock and Metal. Other people prefer, just raw Hard Rock/Metal a la AC/DC or Metallica, but others prefer a more melodic sound with harmonized vocals (or the famous multi-layered vocals!), but still with the strong guitar/drum work. I tend to fall in the latter category, yet I enjoy some rawer sounds.

This is the prologue, featuring albums released before 1980. More or less the album that paved the way for Melodic Rock and AOR...or even Glam Metal (some of them)! Genres that took off and hit the big time during the 80s.

(In alphabetical order)

Airborne by Airborne (1979)


And what a nice album, to start the series! One of the albums that set the basis of the 80s AOR, even if it gained no commercial success. One of Airborne's members (Beau Hill), would later meet fame as Ratt's producer. My favorite songs would be from the A-Side of the album. The Lady Knows Best, Ghost Of Love or No Exception To The Rule. By the way the 1976 at the video's title must be a mistake. I'm pretty sure this album was released in 1979.

Book Early by City Boy (1978)

City Boy must be the first British band that got involved with the AOR genre. Mike Slammer later formed the AOR band Streets, with Steve Welsh from Kansas. Lol Mason on the other hand, formed the Pop/Soul band The Maisonettes. They had a song called 5705, that it was a Top 10 hit in the UK and also managed to make it into the US Top 40. Actually this song was based on another song of theirs called Turn On To Jesus, released in 1977. 5705 was actually a remake with different lyrics. Apart from this song, the whole album is considered a really good example of late 70s AOR.

Boston by Boston (1976)


This must be the album that paved the way for the AOR genre in general, according to many fans, and perhaps the most successful debut coming from a band, reaching Diamond status in the US. The opening track More Than A Feeling, is considered one of the most recognizable 70s tunes, included in many 70s compilations. Apart from this, this album had it's progressivish moments as well. Notably in Foreplay/Longtime, which was almost a US Top 20 hit as well. Peace Of Mind was another really good track of this album, and it was a moderate hit reaching the lowest spots among the US Top 40.

Breakfast In America by Supertramp (1979)


Supertramp made a big name of themselves, both in the UK and in America with this album. They didn't make any significant change in their style, and they were perhaps one of the first bands, that they could be branded as Melodic Rock. The bad thing with this album, is despite the fact it had really good singles, like The Logical Song, Goodbye Stranger and Breakfast In America, the album tracks were pretty weak in comparison. The closing Child Of Vision was the best cut of their album though.

Cornerstone by Styx (1979)


This is the album where Styx started to stray away from their earlier Progressive Rock work, featuring a more Radio-friendly sound. This album featured their biggest hit Babe, which was a #1 hit in the US and Canada, and also a Top 10 hit in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Other songs, were the German-favorite Boat On The River, and also the moderate hits Lights and Why Me. The B-Side of this LP was featuring a sound, more closer to their earlier Progressive Rock sound.

Down To Earth by Rainbow (1979)


For most hardcore Hard Rock/Metal fans, since Dio left Rainbow, they became a Pop band. But that's far from true. They were still a Rock band, featuring a more melodic sound. Down To Earth featuring the new lead singer Graham Bonnet, was the album where they started to develop their AOR sound, that it would take off with the future lead singer, Joe Lynn Turner. Since You Been Gone was their song that helped them make it in American charts, still out of the Top 40. The other single All Night Long was weaker indeed. It also included another song called Eyes Of The World, which was showing signs of their previous works.

Freedom At Point Zero by Jefferson Starship (1979)


This is when Jefferson Starship, started to develop their AOR sound, that it would be their trademark sound when they changed their name, calling themselves just Starship. Particularly the song Jane was the biggest hit of the album, reaching the US Top 20, and almost the UK Top 20, and one of the classics among the early AOR era. The album still had its Progressive Rock moments, like for example in the 8-minute long Awaking. The other two songs from the A-Side ( Lightning Rose (Carry The Fire) and Things To Come) were part of the AOR game as well. From the B-Side, two other songs lifted as singles which became minor hits. Girl With The Hungry Eyes and Rock Music.

On Target by Bullseye (1979)


Another obscure band with zero commercial success. But it was one of those bands and artists that made other bands and artists famous by having their songs sung, by the latter. Treat Me Right became a Top 20 hit by Pat Benatar, but it was Bullseye that actually sang it first, still only a few people are aware of that. Other significant cuts from this forgotten by God album, would be Moonwalk, My Old Car or Seventh Heaven.

Runners In The Night by Desmond Child & Jane (1979)


One of the first AOR albums featuring a female vocalist (perhaps a member from Rouge. Don't recall her name sorry!) , in a male-vocalist dominated genre. Despite the fact Desmond Child never had any commercial success with this album (nor with his Solo album a decade later, and a little bit more), still he became popular as a songwriter, writing songs for artists like KISS, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper and...Ricky Martin (!). This LP is splendid. Who cares if it never had any commercial success anyway? The Truth Comes Out, My Heart's On Fire, Goodbye Baby, Imitation Of Love, etc...all amazing!

Toto by Toto (1978)


It's not clearly a Melodic Rock/AOR album, but more like a fusion of styles, like Progressive Rock, Jazz-Rock and obviously AOR. So it could fall under this category. Particularly, Hold The Line which was the lead single of the album and the song that brought them early commercial success, was the most AORish song of this album, and a song that set the basis of what would follow in the 80s among this genre. As for the other singles, I'll Supply The Love was another AOR number, yet featuring a more Hard Rock/guitar-led sound, unlike the piano-led Hold The Line, and Georgy Porgy was leaning towards a Jazz-Rock direction. Other interesting cuts of this LP, are the Progressivish Girl Goodbye, and the closer Angela that started Toto's obsession giving female names, for their song titles.


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What Guys Said 2

  • Hm, it's Interesting to see the origins of the genre, but to me AOR will always be an 80s genre of crystal clear synths, melodic guitars, deep lyrics, and beautiful harmonies. 70s AOR sounds too much like the prog rock and rough n tough ACDC sleaze rock that was popular at the time

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    • It was still really cool that you took the time and effort to dig up the origins of my favorite music genre though. Don't get me wrong.

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    • Anyway in three days I will post the 1980 albums. Have a look once they appear.

      Have you ever listened to Touch's debut album by the way? It was released in 1980 but pretty much defined the mid 80s AOR sound.

    • Oh yes. That one's very good. It was one of those early 80s albums that helped launch AOR and define both a decade and a genre.

  • So much effort for all these crap bands

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    • Crap are the modern shit you listen to.

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