30. When Seconds Count - Survivor (opens in new tab)
This great album could have been even greater had Burning Heart, Survivor’s second Rocky theme hit, not been tied exclusively to the film’s soundtrack.
Even so, When Seconds Count is a monumental achievement – Is This Love is a perfect pop rock song, Rebel Son the most epic track of the band’s career. 1988 followup Too Hot To Sleep is also a doozy.
Must hear: Rebel Son
29. Get Lucky - Loverboy (opens in new tab)
The sleeve showing a set of crossed fingers behind a backside wearing sprayed-on red leather strides summed up the boisterous optimism of Get Lucky, the second album from fun-loving Canadians Loverboy.
Doug Johnson’s urgent keyboards add depth and colour to the sprightly hooks. No wonder it sold four million copies in the US alone, remaining on the US chart for more than two years.
Must hear: Working For The Weekend
28. Fashion By Passion - White Sister (opens in new tab)
From LA, and named after a Toto song, White Sister made a fine debut album in 1984, full of heavy pomp rock and produced by former Angel star Gregg Giuffria.
Fashion By Passion, the group’s second and final album, was even better – less pompous, more melodic and capped by a glorious version of The Beatles’ Ticket To Ride.
Must hear: Ticket To Ride
27. Last Of The Runaways - Giant (opens in new tab)
The history of AOR is littered with unheralded greatness, and Giant, who recorded this stellar debut, lie among the fallen. At the forefront of the band was Dann Huff, who matched his virtuosity on guitar with a voice made for radio.
There is a touch of sad grandeur about Last Of The Runaways that few can match, from the big hit I’ll See You In My Dreams to the diamond chorus of Hold Back The Night.
Must hear: Innocent Days
26. No Brakes - John Waite (opens in new tab)
The quality of John Waite’s voice and his acute ear for a good song built one of the great, unheralded British rock careers.
From The Babys, where he worked with Jonathan Cain, through this solo incarnation that yielded the enduring Missing You, and on to Bad English, where he reunited with Cain alongside Neal Schon, he has made hits. No Brakes sums up his uncomplicated, hook-heavy approach.
Must hear: Missing You
25. Paradise Theater - Styx (opens in new tab)
Some consider Paradise Theater the last truly great heyday-era Styx album. It saw the band commandeer the abandonment of a run-down local cinema as metaphor for American society as a whole.
That might sound unexciting in principle, but songs such as Too Much Time On My Hands and The Best Of Times were quite extraordinary.
Must hear: Rockin’ The Paradise
24. Agent Provocateur - Foreigner (opens in new tab)
It started with a bang – Tooth And Nail, one of Foreigner’s heaviest songs.
But the true measure of this album is in two of the greatest power ballads of all time: I Want To Know What Love Is, elevated by a gospel choir, a UK and US No.1; and That Was Yesterday, a perfectly crafted song of profound sadness.
Must hear: That Was Yesterday
23. Native Sons - Strangeways (opens in new tab)
The addition of Terry Brock, an American singer blessed with a golden voice, should have made this Glasgow-based band into superstars. Alas record label issues intervened, but Native Sons remains all all-time cult classic.
In his Kerrang! review at the time, Derek Oliver called Native Sons “the greatest and most preciously perfect melodic AOR album of all time”, and today it still sounds incredible.
Must hear: Goodnight LA
22. Third Stage - Boston (opens in new tab)
In search of perfection, Boston’s maverick leader Tom Scholz fussed over this album for so long that he was sued for breach of contract by record company CBS before signing to rival MCA.
As a result, Third Stage was his greatest victory, a brilliant concept album (boy-toman stuff), with the beautiful ballad Amanda hitting No.1 in America.
Must hear: Amanda
21. Out Of The Silence - Dare (opens in new tab)
Dare’s first and best album is so supremely AOR that it features two keyboard players – Darren Wharton, the group’s leader and singer, formerly of Thin Lizzy, and Brian Cox, who later became famous as a scientist and TV presenter.
There is epic drama in Abandon and The Raindance, and in King Of Spades a beautiful elegy for Wharton’s late mentor Phil Lynott.
Must hear: Abandon