Sex Crimes - Rio

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Sex Crimes - Rio

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80% positive

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Review of "Sex Crimes - Rio"

published 26/01/2014 | 80smusicreviewer
Member since : 07/05/2011
Reviews : 146
Members who trust : 99
About me :
Many thanks for all rates, I will always return but may need a week to do so.
Pro Strong heavy/hard AOR-themed rock, anthemic sound, biting guitar riffs, great vocals
Cons The album, along with the artist, is extremely underrated, album isn't quite as strong as debut
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money

"Sex Crimes"

Rio - Sex Crimes - Front Cover (censored)

Rio - Sex Crimes - Front Cover (censored)

Introduction and Background

As AOR and melodic rock really came to fruition in the 1980s, many big names opened the doors to many AOR acts establishing themselves on the scene. However there were also plenty of bands that offered top notch material and yet never hit the big time. The UK duo Rio was one of these artists, involving two talented musicians Jon Neil and Steve Rodford (son of English rock band Argent’s bassist Jim Rodford). Neil, from the band’s Black Tiger and Verity played guitar and performed lead vocals, whilst Rodford, from the band Duchess, performed keyboards, bass guitar and drums, as well as backing vocals. The band formed around 1984, and although the majority of melodic AOR rock came from American artists, Rio offered their own fine brand of UK AOR. Originally as a trio with Dave Kilminster, they formed the group Bombay in the early eighties and later decided to change the name to Rio when it was realised that there was already an American act under the same name. Kilminster soon left the group, as the duo added guitarist Pat McDonald, keyboardist Ross Griggs and drummer Martin Witik for live dates. Building a small following, the duo were soon in the studio to record their debut album, where the pair wrote all nine tracks together. The album, produced by Rodford and additional producer Stephan Galfas, was recorded at Livingston Studios and Liverpool Road Studios. Released by the growing UK metal label Music for Nations, the album Borderland was released in 1985 but sank without a trace. It featured a number of real gems, including the single I Don’t Wanna Be the Fool, but today the album has gained something of a following and more credit overall.

But Rio were not deterred and with the help of studio musicians the band recorded their second and last studio album Sex Crimes, released in 1986 again on the Music for Nations label. It was produced by Rodford again, and featured Beasley Drake on drums, James Stevens on emulator, with backing vocals by Rio and John Verity, and crowd vocals by Rio, Verity, Brian Coiley, Alan Moulder, Charlie Brown and Mark Jolly. The basic tracks of Sex Crimes and overdubs were recorded at Livingston Studios in London, and all vocals were recorded at Trident Studios in London. The album was mixed at Firehouse Studio in London, and was digitally edited and compiled at the Town House by Dave Bernez, with mastering at the Master Room by Tony. All songs were written by Rodford and Neil. Atlantic Radio, the only single from the album, was released via Music for Nations on 7” and 12” vinyl. With When The Walls Come Down as the b-side, and featuring an extended remix of the a-side on the 12” vinyl, the single also failed to enter the UK charts. This was despite the fact that the band recorded a cool little music video for the song, which managed to eventually appear on YouTube for the first time in late 2012. Pay for Love would appear on the Music For Nations various artists compilation Nightmare on Carnaby Street in 1986, and Atlantic Radio would appear on the two Music For Nations various artists compilations; The Singles Album from 1986, and Welcome to Metal Zone from 1987.

Regrettably though the sleeve photo depicting a topless angel ultimately left more of an impression than the band's music, and again the album failed to become a commercial success. Not released in America unlike their debut, Sex Crimes was released on vinyl in the UK and via the New Electric Way label in France, and has yet to see a proper CD release. It seems that a limited pressing was issued by some label called Another Record, however this may be more of an unofficial release than anything else. With the failure of another album, the band Rio were no more, but both Neil and Rodford created another AOR act Big Talk after Rio’s demise. This new venture saw a handful of great demos recorded (available unofficially through the internet) and saw one gig at the Limelight Club in London. By 1991 the duo had paired up again with the Tina Egan Band, and also the 1994 album Trip Through Paradise by The Kick, the act led by Ten Years After bassist Leo Lyons. Later on Rodford would team up with his father, ex-Dog Soldier guitarist Derek Griffiths and former Strawbs keyboard player Chris Patten to create Wicked in 1998. Kilminster later turned up in John Wetton’s band, Qango and Asia. The guitarist has also cut an album with fellow guitarist Mario Parga and by 2004 was working with Keith Emerson.

My Opinion

An album such as Borderland showed the group being very much a radio-friendly, pop-orientated AOR act, with a bit of a rock edge running throughout. With Sex Crimes, the duo decided to swap things around and so a heavy rock style is highlighted here, with a melodic AOR edge on the side. This was probably the best thing to do at the time for the duo, seeing that an album of such great, catchy songs as Borderland failed to do much, then what would be the point in trying to better it? Any attempt at a direct follow-up to the debut would probably never have been as good. As the rather steamy artwork and title hints for the second album, the band aren’t afraid to push boundaries here in regards to both their image and sound. As a result Sex Crimes does feel like a natural progression from their debut album, but it also feels like a big progression. Listening to the demos of Big Talk show the pair moving back into a more melodic AOR sound, and maybe that is where their best sound lies. That doesn’t mean the harder sound of Sex Crimes is out of place though, as the band prove more than capable of delivering. What helps the album achieve a more heavier sound too is Rodford’s raw and earthy production. On certain parts of the record, the production can grate a little as it isn’t anywhere near as clean and smooth as Borderland, but in fitting with this album’s theme it does the job well. Perhaps it wouldn’t be unfair to say though that Borderland is definitely the stronger of the two albums, but Sex Crimes is still full of great, unknown gems only waiting for some light to hit them.

Pay for Love opens the album in the expected hard rocking fashion, and a strong guitar riff runs throughout. Neil’s incredible vocals here show he hasn’t lost any of his power, and the backing vocals are as lively and strong as they were on the duo’s debut. These backing vocals are put to good use mainly in the catchy chorus, and the song itself still has a melodic enough edge, even if energy and power are the main forces here. It’s a catchy, powerful opener with a great guitar solo too. Under Pressure continues from where the opener left off with pure 1980s drums, another strong guitar riff and some inspired vocals. The general construction is the same, with a nice pre-chorus leading into another anthemic chorus highlighted by some more top backing vocals. By the point of these two songs we see that the duo are just as capable as producing some rollicking hard rock as well as the more melodic pop-rock stuff. The only song on the album that truly fits in with the band’s debut more than here is Atlantic Radio, the album’s sole single. The noticeable lighter edge of the song gives the album a bit of relief, where here clean guitars and a radio-friendly nature take the spotlight. Some nice airy keyboards add support, whilst the incredibly infectious chorus highlights that lead/backing vocal formula that the duo do so well. Even the lyrics are lighter, and essentially speak of those days when no matter how bad life might have been, the radio and music of the day made things all good again. Certainly a very Americanised-AOR sound, and it deserved more attention than none at all upon release as a single. Highschool Rock kicks the album back into full swing, with more crunchy guitars and plenty of energy. It doesn’t stray far from the sound of the popular hard rock bands of the 1980s, and has plenty of appeal and memorability all the same. Again the band offer an infectious, anthemic chorus, and leave Neil’s strong vocals to carry the verses along. A great guitar solo too here. Guilty starts off just as heavy and rowdy, but a more melodic side than expected follows the guitars during the verses, where some airy keyboards take the spotlight. That doesn’t mean the guitars don’t make their mark though. With lyrics speaking about a loss of innocence, the anthemic and purely memorable AOR chorus features some inspiring lead and backing vocals. It’s not really possible not to enjoy it, if you are an AOR fan. A lovely, unexpected twist is the ending where the final chorus segues into a short light, keyboard section, and this closes the song, as well as side one of the vinyl, in fine style.

When the Walls Come Down is another energetic and powering rocker, and even if it doesn’t quite have the same quality as most other tracks on the album, it still makes for an enjoyable enough part of the album. The percussion hammers along in great fashion, and the guitars are still biting, as is Neil’s strong vocal. There’s another anthemic chorus, and a strong guitar solo, but the production here does blur the song slightly mainly within the rhythm section. Still a solid enough album track. Danger Zone has plenty of energy right from the start, and gets the album back on track properly. This song has a strong melodic edge throughout, as the verses are a bit more settled than most on the album, however its another chorus that really lights this track up. Naturally the chorus uses more great backing vocals to create an anthemic, sing-a-long style. A great melodic rocker, with a nice American-AOR edge to it. The title track Sex Crimes on the other hand is a true highlight on the album, and not only does it have the heavy theme but the melodic side is also intact throughout. The biting guitar riff, gorgeous clean guitar sweeps and icy keyboards all help as Neil gives a great vocal performance on this song. It all immediately takes a hold. The chorus follows the traditional anthemic use of the backing vocals and biting lead vocal, a section where the duo can’t do no wrong. The lyrics are certainly satisfying too. Dirty Movies enters a sleazy glam-metal styled sound, and the guitar riff immediately shows this. Some great energy and power is packed in this number, as the song recalls the sound of an American glam-metal anthem. Neil gives it his all in the vocal department again, and a lively pre-chorus flows into another memorable, anthemic chorus. Both sections highlight some strong backing vocals again, and they both work nicely to keep the song memorable overall. The closing track Bad Blood is a very different track in comparison to the rest of the album. Attacked with breakneck speed, particularly in the rhythm section, this song almost touches on a real heavy metal genre. The frantic guitar and vocals are crunchy and energetic, whilst the chorus acts as a slight bit of relief, and works in that infectiously anthemic manner Rio do so well. It might take a few listens to grow, but this isn’t a bad closing track by any means, and the song’s guitar solo is truly excellent. What could have been a slightly generic way to finish the album turns out to be a frantic, fun and blasting closer, as the band manage to spice this track up nicely.


On the whole this is a fine heavy rock album with an AOR, melodic edge. It must be said though that the duo’s debut Borderland is the better of the two albums, and is much more accessible. Those looking for the same style as on the first album might be a bit disappointed at the big jump into a much more heavy theme, and I could see why some may call it a little generic in comparison. However if you don’t make comparisons with such an excellent debut, Sex Crimes actually stands up on its own feet very well. On another level the album still has attachments to the debut, and so fans of Borderland will be able to identify with that. It does sound like the same group, and that’s of key importance. Seeing that the album has never been seen on CD, whereas Borderland has had a CD release, it means that this is the most obscure of the two and that’s why the debut has taken the lead in that sense. However for those who have bothered to find this album, and review it, it shows that many see what an overlooked AOR gem this album is. It may not have the hooks and colourfulness of the debut, but the duo’s knack for tight, powerful and crunching riffs are showcased here, along with those infectiously anthemic choruses. The raw production works well with the majority of the album, although sometimes, not very often, but the rawness can get a bit too grating. Certainly a decent CD mastering would sort that out easily though. If you are a fan of rock in general – especially heavy/hard rock of the 1980s then this album will certainly satisfy. It’s a mystery why such a talented duo such as Rio never made it, but they were obviously lost within the bustling AOR scene at the time. One can’t help wondering what this great duo would have released next, had they had a little success or had just decided to carry on making records. They could have played it safe with a Borderland part two but kudos to them for trying something a little different. Sex Crimes is the heavier side of Rio – energetic, punching and roaring.

Top five highlights: Pay for Love, Atlantic Radio, Guilty, Danger Zone, Sex Crimes

Track Listing

1. Pay for Love – 3:35
2. Under Pressure – 3:35
3. Atlantic Radio – 3:06
4. Highschool Rock – 4:02
5. Guilty – 4:16
6. When the Walls Come Down – 3:37
7. Danger Zone – 4:01
8. Sex Crimes – 4:00
9. Dirty Movies – 4:29
10. Bad Blood – 2:48

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Comments on this review

  • danielclark691 published 22/12/2016
    well covered
  • Deesrev published 12/02/2014
    Very well reviewed xXx
  • Graygirl published 11/02/2014
    Excellent review x
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Product Information : Sex Crimes - Rio

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Sub Genre: '80s

Original Release Year: 1985


Listed on Ciao since: 11/09/2011