In the summer of 1987, who could resist Richard Marx? Chiseled, mulletted and in possession of a collection of instant AOR classics, Marx was everyone’s favourite boy-crush, cheeky one moment, heartbroken the next.
From Should’ve Known Better to those Endless Summer Nights, we remember every moment. He also had a former cast member of The Waltons on guitar.
Must hear: Should’ve Known Better
At the end of the 80s, this New York band sounded like the future of AOR, their flawless debut album delivering ultramelodic songs with a modern dynamic, as illustrated by the anthem Gimme Your Good Lovin’.
They also had a unique voice in Danny Malone. Even though the album sold 250,000, Epic Records dropped the band. It remains a lost classic.
Must hear: Gimme Your Good Lovin’
The song that made Survivor famous was written for the smash-hit boxing movie Rocky III at the request of its star, Sylvester Stallone.
Eye Of The Tiger punched its way to No.1 all over the world, and the parent album, which included another era-defining anthem in American Heartbeat, was the band’s best with original vocalist Dave Bickler.
Must hear: Eye Of The Tiger
Everybody’s Crazy is Michael Bolton’s masterpiece, but the album he made before it is a classic in its own right, loaded with great songs such as Fool’s Game, Hometown Hero and Can’t Hold On, Can’t Let Go, all sung as only Bolton can.
A masterful version of The Supremes hit Back In My Arms Again was a signpost to his future.
Must hear: Fool’s Game
Thirty-two years after its release, Indiscreet is still the greatest UK AOR album ever made, filled with perfectly crafted songs including That Girl, Frozen Heart and I Belong To The Night, and Steve Overland’s heroic performance on the record reminds us why he’s nicknamed The Voice.
FM’s follow-up, Tough It Out, featuring the Desmond Child-assisted Bad Luck, is another masterpiece
Must hear: That Girl
On this, his first solo album, released when he was still Journey’s singer, Steve Perry (opens in new tab) mixed soft rock and soul to brilliant effect, scoring a huge US hit with Oh Sherrie, a shout-out to his then girlfriend.
His second solo record, 1994’s For The Love Of Strange Medicine, is as overwrought as its title suggests, but on Street Talk simplicity is genius.
Must hear: Oh Sherrie
Unsurprisingly, they were from New England (Boston, actually, but someone had already nicked that as a band name), and this debut album, co-produced by Paul Stanley (opens in new tab) of Kiss (opens in new tab), is a masterclass in what frontman John Fannon called “power-melodic song-oriented rock”.
Hello, Hello, Hello has shades of Jeff Lynne, and Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya, a glorious pomp-rock anthem, was a minor US hit that should have made them bigger than Jesus.
Must hear: Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya
Toto is the sound of a genre beginning to crystallise, Hold The Line an early example of what American radio rock would become.
It was trampled by the press when it was released, but the divide between the critics and the public was already apparent as musicians and radio programmers tried to find an audience not served elsewhere. A milestone.
Must hear: Hold The Line
1977 wasn’t all about punk rock. It was also a defining year for the less fashionable exponents of AOR, with Foreigner’s debut a multimillion-seller.
Feels Like The First Time and Cold As Ice were US Top 10 hits, and for the next 10 years the hits kept coming.
Must hear: Cold As Ice
Singer Richard Page almost joined Toto, but instead found fame, albeit fleetingly, with Mr. Mister.
This, their second album, a perfect hybrid of melodic rock and new wave, yielded two US No.1s in Broken Wings, a ballad as immaculate as The Cars’ Drive, and Kyrie, a ringing, quasi-spiritual anthem.
Must hear: Kyrie