Ronny Lee – Original Retro Review

ONNY LEE from a small town in the US state of Illinois has delivered an album that might easily be called the finest piece of pure 80s AOR in...


Released by: Independent

Genre: Rock/AOR/Blues Rock




01. Straight to the Top
02. Long After Midnight
03. It’s Been Too Long
04. Just One Night
05. Side By Side
06. Easy Street
07. Hey Mary
08. Backstreets
09. Black Limos & White Lines
10. Sign of the Times


The days when I was impressed by a new AOR release are long gone sadly, but every now and then a new album has that certain feeling I got back in the early days as a writer very frequently. RONNY LEE from a small town in the US state of Illinois has delivered an album that might easily be called the finest piece of pure 80s AOR in a very long time. FRONTIERS RECORDS has tried many times the past years to release a classic 80s AOR sounding record, but nothing comes close to this little gem. I am not sure if every recording is actually also brandnew, because therefore it all sounds too much like it was recorded somewhere in 1983. You really have to dig that classic 1983 US AOR/Radiorocksound of bands like PREVIEW, SHELTER, FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS, STEEL BREEZE, ALLIANCE and such if you also want to appreciate the ‘Original retro’ album of Ronny, although while listening to the album more and more comparisons pop up from different time frames in the AOR dominated 1980s of the North American continent.

Ronny himself is a terrific vocalist, who sounds like a cross between DENNIS DEYOUNG and IAN PARRY, while the CD frontcover picture looks like a cross between the MARK FREE and GARY HUGHES classics from 1993. 10 songs are included and I can’t remember how long ago I must have played a new album so many times as this one, because it really is a killer AOR record that has been on repeat countless times since I received it last week. It takes off with the superb semi AOR ballad “Straight to the top” that begins with DENNIS DEYOUNGish vocal style melodies and ends up with a beautiful TRADIA like chorus that sticks in your head quite rapidly. Second to the lovely melodies, also the guitarwork is very impressive and it seems RONNY LEE is doing everything on his own, so we have a real winner here!

“Long after midnight” follows as being an uptempo melodic rocker, with a less stronger chorus than the first song and overall reminding a lot of LIONHEART (the UK band that released ‘Hot tonight’). Then we are heading into AOR ‘wet dream’ heaven during the next 3 tunes. “It’s been too long” is JOURNEY and BE TAYLOR GROUP all over the place, with lovely harmonyvocals and basically you can not get any closer to pure 80s AOR! Time to rock on during the following 2 songs, “Just one night” and “Side by side”, which are the best songs on the album. Now we’re talkin’ really pure early 80s AOR-Rock, including dut-dut keys, flashy guitarwork, catchy hooks and memorable choruses that are dangerously close to bands like FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS, SHELTER, SYNCH, CHEATER, ALLIANCE (1982), BEAU COUP’s mini-record, etc. etc.

Ronny really knows how to re-create Classic AOR at it’s very best and of course, some of you might say this sounds dated, but if you only listen to the first minute of the song “Just one night”, then you will understand that this was how Rock used to sound all over the USA 30 years ago! I would love to see this released as a vinyl record, because that’s where it definitely belongs. AOR might never become fashionable again, but in case you have a real AOR heart like me, it will beat faster than ever upon hearing those songs “Just one night” and “Side by side”, which are AOR-rockers at it’s very best! Although the first 5 songs capture the best moments of the album, also the second part of the CD has some nice secrets to offer. More TRADIA similarities in the song “Easy street”, which has once again a really cool guitarsolo, while “Hey Mary” goes for a more 1987 sound that mixes AOR with light Sympho in a style that is close to SAGA.

“Backstreets” is a relaxing AOR song that reminds me of AGENT crossed with STEEL BREEZE’s ‘Heart on the line’ record and the uptempo Melodic AOR Rocker “Black limos and white lines” is sounding like an excellent mix between BYSTANDER and URGENT (USA), with a chorus that has similarities to RAY ROPER. The CD closes with an 80s Hardrocker called “Sign of the times”. JOSEPH LEE WOOD, CHEATER, HEAT and such underground acts are probably the best similarities to mention, because I might mention JOURNEY, SURVIVOR and such here, but you have to realise that all together the sound/production does not have the high quality of the major label releases from the 80s AOR, although the real AOR fan doesn’t mind that. Basically we have a real AOR gem here you urgently need to check out.


Written by Gabor

Ratings    Gabor    8/10

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