20FROM20 (1996-2016) - 20 Underrated But Essential Melodic Rock Albums

2016 is of course the 20th Anniversary of MelodicRock.com – my online presence began in October 1996 with a basic news website (under a couple of different names) before the domain MelodicRock.com was adopted in 1998 (or thereabouts!)...
To celebrate 20 years covering the music we all love, I am posting a number of 20FROM20 features, counting down some of the best music and artists of the last 20 years, 1996-2016.
So let’s get started!
01. HUMANIMAL - Humanimal
Named after a Talisman album, this one off project featuring JSS, Marcel Jacob and Pontus Norgren, it’s a masterclass in melodic, yet heavy and groovy hard rock. And the songs are simply unforgettable. Still one of my favourite JSS albums ever.
02. THE SIGN - Signs of Life
The production didn’t do justice to the quality of the songs, but this teaming of Terry Brock, Randy Jackson, Mark Mangold and Billy Greer was a true masterstroke. The guys wrote the material together, so it reflected a new band, not a project and the mix of progressive and AOR created some stunning music that is every bit as wonderful today.
03. KHARMA - Wonderland
One of my favourite Goran Edman fronted albums ever. Glorious Swedish album that has sadly never been followed up. Its pomp meets classic rock meets Scandi melodic rock. It’s brilliant.
04. MILLENIUM - Hourglass
Still one of the best Jorn Lande fronted albums and a brilliant mix of commercial hard rock and soaring chorus melodies with the power of Whitesnake or Blue Murder. Ralf Santolla and crew rule.
05. SNAKES IN PARADISE - Dangerous Love
Stefan Berggren remains one of the best vocalists around and he is sadly underrated as is this band. This is their best album and still one of my all time favourites from Sweden.
06. SR71 - Now You See Inside
The band defined the modern rock sound in the late 90s, a really promising band, terrific melodic yet powerful songs. Want to know what the nu-breed of melodic rock sounds like – it’s this album!
07. NELSON - Life
The Nelsons took a step back from their normal sound to deliver one of the finest pop/rock harmony records ever. This is still my favourite Nelson album – its pure pop, but it’s also pure melodic bliss. And the songs are unbelievably catchy.
            A little controversial because Jimi was fighting Frankie over the name, and the album had a
rough time in production, with the band having their own issues, but in the end it got made and the songs were moody and wonderful and the vocal performance from Jimi was glorious.
09. WESTWORLD - Westworld
TNT’s Tony Harnell and Riot’s Mark Reale with Bruno Ravel. This is the first of four albums and it perfectly demonstrates what I love about Tony when he turns slightly heavier and darker. Brilliant.
10. BOB CATLEY - The Tower
Bob’s debut solo album saw the Magnum vocalist turn heavier, darker and with the backing of Ten and the songs of Gary Hughes, he delivered a masterpiece. Ten meet Magnum, but heavier than both. Still sounding fresh and vibrant.
11. CROWN OF THORNS - Lost Cathedral
The debut album is the one that gets all the love, but don’t leave this one out of your collection. The sometimes patchy COT deliver their most consistent and strong album after the debut.
12. WHITESNAKE - Restless Heart
David Coverdale turns down the screams and sings in the tone of an older, mature vocalist, who may not have the range, but had lost none of the charisma and warmth only he could deliver. And some terrific mid-tempo songs too. Wish he’d come back to this style.
13. KIP WINGER - Thisconversationseemslikeadream
Personal tragedy provided lyrical depth not seen before from Kip, or just about any other artist for that matter. Musically it is like an opera, it is a true masterpiece and immediately become a long-time favourite. Mood, melody, intelligent arrangements and impossible not to love and respect.
14. SHUGAAZER - Shift
Paul Laine does modern melodic rock with the same class and talent as he does everything else. Hugely underrated album with some truly amazing songs, none better than the heart wrenching ballad Something Worth Waiting For.
15. ATTRACTION 65 - Attraction 65
Another modern album, but as with everything the late, great Gregg Fulkerson does, its filled with deep melodies, moody Springsteen-esque Americana. The difference here is the more modern sound and to be honest, these songs could have been on any radio station in the world, such was their quality.
16. LEVERAGE - Tides
Vocalist Pekka Heino and guitarist Torsti Spoof form the backbone of this album – another glorious slice of Scandinavian melodic hard rock/metal. Power, finesse and a big fat production equals an album that has not yet been topped.
17. BEGGARS & THIEVES - Look What You Create
Like Crown Of Thorns, B&T get all the love for their debut – well deserved to. But this is a fine quality album too and really showcases the awesome vocals of Louie Merlino. Another one of my favourite bands because they are different than the majority.
18. VON GROOVE - Test of Faith
Another instance of a band stepping back from heavier origins to concentrate on songs and delivering big time. It’s more melodic than any other album in their catalogue, and it really suited them. Easily my favourite Von Groove album.
19. ALFONZETTI - Ready
Matti Alfonzetti delivers a commercial melodic rock album with a few covers and a few originals, but all great performances and one for all fans of classic melodic rock.
20. STRANDED – Long way To Heaven
This album goes back to 1999 and I’m still waiting for a sequel! Agent’s Troy Reid brings his gruff, quirky vocals to a project fronted by Canadian guitarist Kenny Kaos (Pokerface/The Distance). Once again, it’s the songs that rule the day. I hated this on first listen, but just to demonstrate you never review anything until it’s worn in, I came to love it and still do.