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Articles: 1981 Articles

38 Special - 1981 Wild Eyed Southern Boys
Here you'll find Southern AOR clearly defined as a sub-genre, 38 Special finding a winning sound and approach they would further refine with the following three albums.

707 - 1981 2nd Album
Whilst lacking the overblown pomposity of the debut, this is a hugely enjoyable album chock full of memorable hard rockin' tunes which I return to on a regular basis.

Abba - 1981 The Visitors
Far removed from the sticky sweet bubblegum sounds of their early work, 'The Visitors' is a mature and sophisticated album with progressive arrangements and a dark, brooding atmosphere.

Accept - 1981 Breaker
After a pair of uneven albums to open their career, Accept finally started coming into their own with 'Breaker' during the legendary year of 1981.

Air Raid - 1981 Air Raid
Air Raid go all out to cement the pomp king's title.

All Sports Band - 1981 All Sports Band
Looking back, the image and theme of this album might seem a little silly, but if you're an AOR fan, then this is primo stuff. Forget about sports, get stuck into the music and potato chips instead!!

Amon Duul II - 1981 Vortex
A mainstay of the German prog scene was Amon Duul. Here we have version II, with a mix of prog, pop and outright weirdness.

Anvil - 1981 Hard And Heavy
I suppose looking back in history it's a wonder how this band ever got to being so popular? Particularly the scribes over at Sounds Magazine, who bequeathed all sorts of superlatives on the band. Anvil's brand of metal mischievousness leaves very little to be desired, particularly their corn-ball attempts at sexual innuendo which pervaded their music all throughout their career.

Apache - 1981 Apache
Apache's music doesn't quite hit the mark with me, it has many comparisons to that Muscle Shoals type sound.. that is: a mix of mild 70's flavored southern rock (think Allman Brothers, Wet Willie), and commercial blues.

April Wine - 1981 The Nature Of The Beast
Recorded in England not long after their 1980 European tour, the LP was co-produced by Myles Goodwyn and Mike Stone (Asia, Journey, New England, Whitesnake), and it would become the band's biggest selling LP to that point.

Arroyo - 1981 Arroyo
Arroyo were a Milwaukee based six-piece, who operated between 1978 and 1982. They were representatives of their era, with a musical mixture of FM radio rock and some swampy southern rock.

Atlanta Rhythm Section - 1981 Quinella
This was to be the band's last album until 1989, a shame as the promise of 'Quinella' makes the thought of a mid 80's ARS album tantalising to say the least.

Bad Boy - 1981 Private Party
By 1981 Milwaukee's Bad Boy were ready to unleash their much anticipated third album into the Midwest, after two successful releases in the late 70's.

Bad Edge - 1981 Bad Edge
Dutch band who released this private LP back in 1981. Hard rock with blues and boogie pretensions, coupled with new wave leanings, and dropping into 60's era pop/rock a la The Rolling Stones and The Kinks

Badfinger - 1981 Say No More
From the same label thought brought you Love Affair, Glass Moon and RCR, Florida based Radio Records had high hopes for Badfinger. After all, this was the classic British band dogged by notoriously bad luck..

Balance - 1981 Balance
Another ambassador for the G-DAZE site is this ever so legendary outfit from New York called Balance. This band should have been huge and probably would've too had the circumstances been right.

Balin, Marty - 1981 Balin
Marty Balin's first solo album simply titled 'Balin' came out in 1981 on the infamous EMI America label, the same label and same year in which Kim Carnes was doing a roaring trade with her 'Mistaken Identity' album.

Ballyhoo - 1981 Man On The Moon
Bands like Stingray and Rabbit were well known South African bands, but one shouldn't forget another mainstay: Ballyhoo.

Bandera - 1981 Knights
This is vintage Southern Rock and one of the best obscurities of the genre I've heard to date.

Barclay James Harvest - 1981 Turn Of The Tide
For Barclay James Harvest, 1981's 'Turn Of The Tide' ushered in the keyboard drenched AOR approach that would continue until 1997, and did so with some considerable style.

Bee Gees, The - 1981 Living Eyes
By 1981, radio stations had taken The Bee Gees out of rotation and subsequently categorized the group as a disco act . What a 'Tragedy', as 'Living Eyes' includes an impressive mix of well crafted brother Gibb tunes that dabble in West coast/AOR!

Bell And James - 1981 In Black And White
Originally a disco/pop outfit who eventually discovered AOR and west coast!

Beverly, Brian - 1981 Eleven It Ends
The songs here are punchy power-pop rockers nicely pigeon-holed for the early 80's era. In saying that, it does have a harder edge and a fast-paced tempo generally.

Black Sabbath - 1981 Mob Rules
Ronnie James Dio had restored Sabbath's tag as metal heavyweights via the 1980 'Heaven And Hell' album. Obviously there was immense anticipation as to whether they could repeat this with 'Mob Rules' a year later.. there was no question that they would, the album reaching the same heights musically as its predecessor.

Blackfoot - 1981 Marauder
Another look at southern rockers Blackfoot, this time their 1981 head-turner 'Marauder'. The third in a trilogy of album covers where they quickly become the David Attenborough of the rock world.

Bleu, Frankie - 1981 Who's Foolin' Who
Not well known to AOR fans, but a household name among West Coast collectors, is the name Frankie Bleu. Bleu is actually a pseudonym for Frank Butoraci, who first came to attention with his band Gabriel during the 70's.

Blue Oyster Cult - 1981 Fire Of Unknown Origin
'Fire Of Unknown Origin', an album which surprised many at the time as it performed quite well on the charts given the strength of other AOR acts during this timeframe that dominated both the singles and album charts.

Blue Steel - 1981 Nothing But Time
Blue Steel, previously reviewed here before, offer up a second dose of country rock/boogie, that goes nowhere fast..

Blue Way - 1981 Remember Your First Love
Blue Way are a French band, who might give the appearance of a late 70's prog band, but they are in fact an intriguing mixture of glam, art rock and new wave styles.

Bodine - 1981 Bodine
A likeable band from The Netherlands, who perhaps struggled for identity with their style early on in the piece. On their debut album reviewed here, Bodine (is it pronounced Bo-Dean or Bo-Dine?) have taken on a solid southern rock and blues sound.

Bonnet, Graham - 1981 Line Up
'Line-Up' is an amalgam of British hard rock fusing the likes of Bonnet's former band Rainbow with early 80's era Uriah Heep. It's pretty commercial fare, AOR in places even, and with some top rated musicians onboard, the album - was released in October 1981 to little fanfare and little interest though it does have its moments.

Briley, Martin - 1981 Fear Of The Unknown
Martin Briley needs no introduction on these hallowed pages since many of us remember his 1983 single 'Salt In My Tears' and have one or more of his albums in the collection, but solo success was a fickle mistress for Briley it would seem.

Brown, Danny Joe (Band) - 1981 Danny Joe Brown Band
While Hatchet continued with Jimmy Farrar and recorded a worthy pair of records in 'Beatin' The Odds' and 'Take No Prisoners', Brown one upped them with his lone solo album, a classy pure Southern rock effort on a par with his Hatchet albums.

Butler - 1981 Butler
Musically, Butler's only album for the most part is a pretty good example of classic Canadian rock in the tradition of Teaze and Moxy.

Byrne And Barnes - 1981 An Eye For An Eye
The duo of Robert Byrne and Brandon Barnes is not that well known in mainstream music circles, but in West Coast circles, particularly Japan, these guys are near demi-gods.

Call Me - 1981 Call Me
I get a real kick out of discovering a true AOR obscurity, and this time, it comes in the shape of Munich based band Call Me.

Carnes, Kim - 1981 Mistaken Identity
It was one of the biggest selling albums of 1981, so by default, gets a mention here at GDM.

Cetera, Peter - 1981 Peter Cetera
I remember this LP getting big raps back in the day. Reading the first edition of the Enyclopedia of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, the debut album of Peter Cetera's solo career certainly got him off to a fine start.

Challenger - 1981 First Round
For me, this is an album which has stood the test of time, and has yet to be released on CD. Hard rock and boogie of the first degree. The songs here could all use a digital make-over, and considering this is an album from the prime glory daze period, surely it would make for a Rock Candy contender into the future?

Chameleon - 1981 Chameleon
There is a school of thought amongst some members of the AOR fraternity that this band are undeserving of their status as minor AOR legends. However, judging by the fact that their albums have been snapped up by eager collectors more quickly than condoms in a brothel, then this is obviously the opinion of a tiny minority.

Champlin, Bill - 1981 Runaway
Released in 1981, 'Runaway' features breathtaking melodies, dizzying key changes, and lush arrangements - all David Foster trademarks.

Charlie - 1981 Good Morning America
A English band steeped in the tradition of classic rock. Unusual though, that Charlie were trying to adopt an American sound at the time, fusing bits of Supertramp and the Doobie Brothers together.

Cheetah - 1981 Rock And Roll Women
Though they may be English bred, they are Australian raised, and I don't think Australia has seen the likes of this lovely duo ever since! It would be easy to say that the Hammond sisters and their band Cheetah were considered AC/DC clones back during the late 70's/early 80's timeframe, but give them credit, they were typical of that overall Aussie sound coming out of the Antipodes..

Chemay, Joe (Band) - 1981 The Riper The Finer
Here's another compulsory listen for fans of West Coast music. Again, like the recently reviewed Frankie Bleu, bassist and singer Joe Chemay is made from the same stock.

Chilliwack - 1981 Wanna Be A Star
This trio would release two of Chilliwack's best albums during this time: this one 'Wanna Be A Star' and 1982's 'Opus X'.

China (USA) - 1981 China
It would not be unusual to plant this album in the same ballpark as the likes of Airplay, Airborne and Sneaker.

Chris Evans/David Hanselmann - 1981 Symbols Of The Seven Sacred Sounds
Accessible, rhythmic and colorful and other than some rather undecipherable lyric content and a few Gregorian chants interspersed throughout; 'Symbols Of The Seven Sacred Sounds' is very much a rock album.

Claudia - 1981 Claudia
Like the recent Craig Mirijanian article we did, this album by the one-off artist Claudia has been described as a west-coast classic. I'm not so convinced however..

Cotton, Gene - 1981 Eclipse Of The Blue Moon
Always a low key artist in the style of Lobo, Randy VanWarmer and of course Michael Johnson, who Cotton worked with significantly in the early 1980's, 'Eclipse Of The Blue Moon' came out at a time when soft rock was becoming increasingly passe.

Crysys - 1981 Hard As Rock
From the same era and location as Wild Dogs and Sequel come the band Crysys. From Portland Oregon (the supposed beer capital of the USA), this is American metal at its infancy.