Published on April 25th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Return: V (AOR Heaven, 1992/2020)
Norwegian AOR band Return issued their fifth album, the appropriately-titled V, in 1992. Much like their countrymen Stage Dolls, Return had a much lighter take on the typical melodic rock sound, and they had pretty much perfected that style on V.
V is a very laid-back AOR album, but not in a Street Talk/Hugo kind of way. There’s still a rock n’ roll vibe that sneaks in between all the love songs. Think Stage Dolls meet Bryan Adams or Brett Walker. They did this kind of music well, between Knut Erik Ostgard’s strong/raspy vocals and the melodies he and fellow guitarist Steinar Hagen serve up. The album is maybe too mellow at times, and could have used a few more upbeat tracks like the Tangier-ish “Goin’ Back,” but it’s hard to complain about mellow gems like “Life Must Go On” and “Straight Across My Heart” and the soundtrack-ready “Room In Your Life.” The acoustic “Friends Will Be Friends” could pass for a Stage Dolls tune, even if the lyrics are super-cheesy.
I’m sure making a mellow AOR album like this made a lot of sense to the band when they were recording it, and V is generally considered Return’s best album, but 1992 was just not the right time for this kind of music. The musical landscape changed in a major way, and the band went on hiatus not long after V‘s release. It remains a really solid AOR album that’s worth revisiting all these years later. You have to be in the mood for something light, but when you are an album like V really satisfies. Fans of Stage Dolls, Brett Walker and Alias should definitely give this one a try.
Reissue Notes: The AOR Heaven label finally got V back in print this year, which should please collectors who were unable to score an original pressing. The reissue features remastered audio and a nice booklet with a band history, lyrics and lots of vintage photos. No bonus tracks though. The main attraction here is just having the album available again.
PS – Fun fact: V features backing vocals from a young, then-unknown Jorn Lande.
Summary: Stage Dolls-style AOR...reissued