October 23, 2020

Music has the ability to make you time travel and you only after hear a specific song and you are back in your schooldays, on that holiday you’ll never forget or that cherished date with a loved one. Similarly with this new work by Rough Diamond, after about 30 seconds I was back in the 1980’s and Miami Vice was just starting on the television! A quick look at the record label is basically enough to sum up this album as it really is ‘AOR Heaven’ from a fondly remembered but bygone era of shoulder pads, big hair and white T-shirts under Armani jackets (not my style by any means as my T-shirts had Rush or Rainbow on them). I listened to the album and wrote the above comments and then read the accompanying publicity which states that this is a re-release of an album that originally came out in 1988 which obviously explains why it sums up the ’80s so perfectly!

So, on to the album itself and it is a simply divine record that oozes style and class is the perfect example of smooth and polished AOR or FM rock and is the sort of pop flavoured rock music that the likes of Andrew Gold, Chris Cross, Gerry Rafferty and Al Stewart did so well. The band/album began life as a project put together by the Canadian keyboard player Lewis Nitikman, an artist hugely influenced by Elton John, who was a member of the Canadian country/pop rock band Stonebolt for a couple of years before quitting to go to college to hone his musical and song writing skills. He then met singer and song writer Dave Buckthorpe and they began the process of putting this album together and then they began to bring in a group of musicians including guitarist Scotty Hall (Agent/Idle Eyes/Rez), drummer Phil Robertson (Idle Eyes/Rez), bassist Tom Christiansen (Boulevard) and vocalist Ray Roper (Stonebolt). They eventually found a record company to show encouragement and the album was finished off with additional performances from several guests including Sharon Lee Williams (who sang on Bob Seger’s Night Moves) and she performs backing vocals on Where Is Love and Triumph guitarist Rik Emmett also features on the opening track Walk On The Wire. The album sold when on release in 1988 but was never toured and then Nitikman and Buckthorpe went their separate ways and that was the end for Diamond In The Rough.

Strangely, Nitikman eventually found his way to Sheffield and had developed a song writing partnership with John Reilly and his band, Boy On A Dolphin, one of Sheffield’s best kept secrets. He is also involved with the melodic rock band Stranded and features on their New Dawn album released last year. Diamond In The Rough was also re-released in 1996 in re-mastered form and the recording here as the same as this release but with the addition of two extra tracks Tell Me and I Believe In Love which was sung by Troy Reid (Agent/Stranded).

It seems this release is being limited to 500 copies and is only available through AOR Heaven in Germany so if you are a fan of ’80s AOR, yacht rock or the likes of Chris Cross then give this an whirl and act quickly to secure a slice of the finest ’80s classic melodic rock.

Diamond In The Rough track list

  1. Walk In The Wire (3:38)
  2. Where Is Love (3:51)
  3. Ain’t Good Lovin’ (3:56)
  4. I Wish There Was A Way (5:20)
  5. When It’s All Said And Done (4:09)
  6. Stand And Deliver (4:46)
  7. Sultry Lady (3:55)
  8.  Run From The Dark (4:39)
  9. Thief In The Night (4:36)
  10. Young Of Heart (3:24)
  11. Tell Me (4:21)
  12. I Believe In This Love (4:39)
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