(In alphabetical order by album title)
11) 4 by Foreigner
It's really tough to pick Foreigner's best album. Since all of them (well, till Inside Information actually) were milestones in the world of Rock And Roll in general. So I would pick 4 since it was their most successful one. Every song here could basically be a hit. Apart from the successful singles Jukebox Hero, Waiting For A Girl Like You and Urgent. The album also included the upbeat Melodic Hard Rock cuts Night Life, Break It Up and I'm Gonna Win or the more laid back Luanne and Girl On The Moon. The best cut of the album in my opinion, it would be Woman In Black. A Dance Rock classic, that could easily be as big as the other Dance Rock hit of the album, Urgent.
12) Bad For Good by Jim Steinman
Well, Jim Steinman coined the term Wagnerian Rock (Hard Rock with operatic vocals). But in fact it's just a subgenre of the whole Melodic Rock genre. Anywaym Jim Steinman is famous as a producer and a songwriter, but not as a performer. This is his only album he released as a solo artist. This album included a number of really good songs. Like the underrated AOR cuts Bad For Good and Stark Raving Love (the latter was the song, that Bonnie Tyler based her mega hit Holding Out For A Hero ), the Hard Rockier Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire) (covered by Meat Loaf later) or the power ballads Lost Boys And Golden Girls and Surf's Up. And last but not least Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through (also covered by Meat Loaf). Although it wasn't included on the original LP, it was given as an extra 7" single with the original one. Later it was included as a bonus track, in remastered versions. This song was a Top 10 hit in New Zealand, and a Top 40 US hit.
13) Balance by Balance
Like their name suggests, and as you can see in the album cover, Balance were keeping a balance between the raw electric guitar sound, and the melodic keyboard sound. But in their first self-titled album, the balance was tilting towards the melodic sound, and in their follow-up In For The Count, towards the rockier sound. Anyway, here we will examine their first album. The album opener (Looking For The) Magic is a great cut with the awesome synths in the chorus imitating the magic word somehow, then it comes the pretty follow-up I'm Through Loving You and then Breaking Away, which was their biggest hit, almost reaching the US Top 20. But the best cut here, would definitely be Fly Through The Night. Which pretty much shows off how a Pop song would be. Favorite cuts from the other side of the LP would be the AOR smasher American Dream and of course Hot Summer Nights, the other Night song.
14) Balin by Marty Balin
Famous for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, he also had moderate success as a solo artist with his solo debut. The album's opener Hearts was a US Top 10 hit, and also the song Atlanta Lady was on the Top 40. Other good cuts here are the underrated AOR classics You Left Your Mark On Me, Spotlight and I Do Believe In You. Unfortunately after this song the album loses its momentum with Elvis And Marilyn (from a lyrics point of view mostly) and the last two songs are unmemorable. Still it's a good listen!
15) Escape by Journey
This is definitely one of the biggest milestones in the world of Melodic Rock. It was also the album that Journey escaped from obscurity. The album cover symbolizes it perfectly. Don't Stop Believing has a nice intro especially when the guitar kicks in, and Stone In Love is another great Melodic Hard Rock number. Who's Crying Now would be better if it had some more guitar work, but the Power ballad Still They Ride is the best cut from the A-Side. From the other side, Escape is another good Hard Rock classic, and the album closer Open Arms fits perfectly as a closer. Yet, the best cut from the whole album in my opinion, would be the anthemic Mother, Father, and probably the most underrated one from the whole album as well.
16) Good Morning America by Charlie
Like most Progressive Rock bands of the 70s, since 80s started they pursued an AOR direction. Charlie were one of them. Unfortunately this album lacked any commercial success, but it deserved way more than this. The opener Good Morning America is one of the most epic AOR cuts featuring an alarm clock in the intro. A nice song to use instead of an alarm clock! But let's see the other cuts as well. Roll The Dice was an excellent cover of a song by another AOR band named Couchois, Heading For Home is an AOR smasher that should have been a huge hit, and the best song next to the title track opener. I'm Angry With You which has a Punk feeling, the also AORish Just One More Chance and the Powerpoppish closer The Girl Won't Dance With Me. Sure the whole album, is another one of the many great AOR undiscovered treasures, that were lost in obscurity.
17) Greg Lake by Greg Lake
Greg Lake, famous as a part of the Symphonic Rock/Progressive Rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer, made his solo debut with this album. It was a natural evolution of the Emerson, Lake & Palmer sound. The first song of the album Nuclear Attack which was also the only song of the album released as a single, is the best cut on the album in my opinion keeping a balance between synth and guitar work, written by Gary Moore and also performed by the latter at the same year. The second song Love You Too Much was co-written with Bob Dylan which was also a very good cut, and the third cut of the album It Hurts is also a very good Power Ballad. Unfortunately after the third song, in the fourth one called Black And Blue the album loses its momentum, but makes it up somehow with the fifth cut Retribution Drive. As for the other side, it's not as great as the first side, but nice songs here are For Those Who Dare, Someone with its awesome Saxophone parts, and the best cut from the B-Side of the album, The Lie.
18. Premonition by Survivor
Survivor became international superstars with their song Eye Of The Tiger featured in the movie's Rocky III OST. For today's youngsters -unfortunately- they are more known as the guys who sing Eye Of The Tiger than Survivor. Obviously Survivor were more than this, and they had seven magnificent albums during the 80s. Premonition was one of them, particularly their second one. It was the album that offered them their first Top 40 hit called Poor Man's Son. The album opener Chevy Nights with its awesome newavish bassline is also a great cut and Summer Nights as well which was also a minor hit, peaking at #62 in the US charts. And the closer Heart's A Lonely Hunter is another great Power Ballad album closer from the Dave Bickler-led era. But the best cut from the whole album, would be Runway Lights. A Melodic Hard Rock classic that MUST have been as big as, let's say Urgent or Don't Stop Believing (see above).
19) Time Tells No Lies by Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis are considered by others part of the NWOBHM movement, and by others they are considered an AOR band. I tend to believe the latter, since their sound resembled more bands like Journey or Rainbow (Joe Lynn Turner era) than Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. Anyway this album is definitely their masterpiece and we can fairly call them The British Version Of Journey even if they never became as successful as the latter. Cuts like Cheated, Rich City Kids, Lovers To The Grave, Panic In The Streets and Flirting With Suicide are all outstanding featuring some of the most awesome AND most underrated guitar work, and let's not forget their Kinks' cover All Day And All Of The Night.
20) Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield
Rick Springfield is often labeled as Power Pop, but Power Pop and AOR genres are often correlated. So why we shouldn't include him here? Anyway, this is the album that made him an international star, thanks to the success of Jessie's Girl and it was the first album of his 80s masterpieces follow-ups (Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, Living In Oz, Tao, Rock Of Life) . Jessie's Girl might've been his biggest hit, but sure it wasn't the best cut of the album. Hole In My Heart, Carry Me Away, I've Done Everything For You, and The Light Of Love are all AOR/Power Pop smashers, and then we have the more laid back Everybody's Girl and Daddy's Pearl. Bottom line is, whether we call this album AOR or Power Pop, the album is and it will always be a masterpiece.