AOR Heaven [Release date 27.03.20]
Classy Norwegian four man melodic rock band, Return, released their fifth album in 1992. That year, the rock’n'roll world shifted on its axis, and a lot of great melodic rock albums suffered commercially as a result. This was one of them.
Too bad. Their previous 4 albums succeeded in their native country but resolutely refused to breakout into other markets… “V” could’ve been the one.
The band’s low key approach… using soughing strings and spare, acoustic guitars to frame their songs as a lead in to the big chorus was novel, daring even, but doesn’t always work. That said, they deploy that marriage of strings especially well on ‘Take This Heart’ and ‘Friends Will Be Friends’, both reflecting the innocence of first love, before launching into a huge, heavily orchestrated chorus, injecting a boyband charm as the songs progress.
There’s a thread of pop commerciality running through the album. Standouts would be the lushly romantic ‘Life Must Go On’ and ‘Riding On A Rainbow’. Both have a definitive Stage Dolls’ feel, with pealing guitars underlining a memorable hook.
Two tracks escape from the envelope: ‘Tonight’ merges rock, pop and country into a discrete sub genre, lit up by sparkly acoustic guitars; ‘All Or Nothing’ wanders into the Norwegian end of the Mississippi Delta, combining steel guitars and a bluesy harmonica with rumble of bass heavy percussion. Both work, suggesting a wider musical direction worthy of exploration.
The remastering by Chris (Soul Doctor) Lyne provides the tracks with the punch and clarity that the original album lacked, and Dave (Wiggy) Reynolds provides new and entertaining liner notes, along with the obligatory “previously unseen” pics of the band.
Review by Brian McGowan
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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09:00-12:00 TAO Prophecy (Tarot Label Media)
12:00-13:00 LEVERAGE Above The Beyond (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JOE TILSTON Tightrope (Our Records)
Power Plays w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)
ABOVE SNAKES Nothing To Lose (indie)
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS Cookin’ (Greenway Records)
LEADFINGER The Fall Of Rome (Golden Robot)
FEMEGADES Stealing Numbers (Regent Street Records)
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