AOR Heaven [Release date 26.11.21]
Nearly two years on, Tony Mitchell releases his third album as he goes full on 80s AOR. Tony Mitchell spent several months travelling coast to coast taking in the sights, sounds & overall American culture and always said it was a massive influence on his songwriting. As he says: “I wanted to create something a little different from the first two albums, pushing myself further to try & connect with a modern 80s feel. I have tried to blend my normal AOR/melodic rock style with an 80s vibe as I love that era not only for the music but for the movies too. The 80s movies had some killer soundtracks and always had a big influence.”
Oh boy, if you like your 80s AOR/melodic rock with a modern production, you will love this album. Opening with the title track we are off straight away into a big 80s melodic rock sound. ‘Can’t Fight It’ continues the theme and again features a superb guitar solo from Midnite City’s Miles Meakin. Joining Meakin are bassist Nigel Bailey (3 Lions/Dirty White Boyz) and drummer Eddie Antony.
‘Blame It On The Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is an enjoyable OTT romp, from the Def Leppard backing through to the gang choruses. Then just when you’re rocking away he adds in a piano interlude, shades of John Miles and Cats In Space, before we’re back rocking again including another fine guitar solo.
There are ballads too with ‘Strong Enough’ pick of the bunch. Mitchell again uses massed backing vocals to good effect helping to really lift the song to another level. Mind you, ‘Caught In The Highlights’ isn’t too shabby either and one you could easily imagine gracing an 80s film soundtrack.
The burbling synths that usher in ‘Neon Sky’ sets this one firmly in the 80s. Like a mix of Go West and those long lost Brit 80s melodic rockers Virginia Wolf.
Loving the sax of Daniel Sings on ‘Leave The Word Behind’. One of those songs you can imagine being played loud in the rock clubs back in the day. On ‘Turn Back Time’ you’d be mistaken for thinking Bono was fronting Def Leppard! Another strong song and Tony Mitchell’s vocals fit this one like a glove.
The album ends with the timely ‘Calling Mother Nature’, the heaviest song on the album and the least 80s sounding. Still a damn fine tune though.
Tony Mitchell keeps raising the bar on each subsequent release and he’s set himself a hard challenge to better this album methinks. Still, all the better for us listeners as this is one damn fine listen. ****1/4
Review by Jason Ritchie
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Power Plays w/c 13 June 2022 (Mon-Fri)
IVORY SKIES – Bring Me Up (indie)
HONG FAUX Feign Death To Stay Alive (Golden Robot Records)
OVERLAPS Mind Over Matter (indie)
SOLE SYNDICATE – Brave Enough (Scarlet Records)
DAVID PAICH Spirit Of The Moonrise (Mascot)
JAILBIRDS The River (indie)
NOUVEAU ARCADE Die On Me Now (FiXT)
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09:00-12:00 DEF LEPPARD Diamond Star Halos (BMG)
12:00-13:00 LONERIDER Sundown (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 VANDERWOLF 12 Little Killers (Vandermax Music)
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