I have to admit that AVIATOR initially flew under my radar in the mid 80s before luckily discovering this gem a few years after its release. It became an instant AOR fave I still play frequently to this day, maybe more than any AOR/melodic rock album from that era.
AVIATOR were simply THE perfect AOR band and they should've made a major impact with their debut (but then again, they were signed to RCA, a notoriously clueless label when it came to promoting and marketing harder rock of any kind). They had great, I mean GREAT songs, radio ready hooks galore, a top shelf vocalist with a unique voice in Ernie White, well accentuated keyboards in just the right places, instead letting the high octane guitars of Ernie White and Richie Cerniglia do the talking and driving the songs, supported by a tight, very effective rhythm section (Steve Vitale and Michael Ricciardella on bass and drums, respectively).
AVIATOR come out of the gate all guns blazing with the mucho ass kicking 'Front Line' and the equally convincing 'Back on the Street', one of the greatest 1-2 punches on any AOR record. You could stop (listening) now because you're already sold if you didn't own the album already. 'Never Let The Rock Stop' is how you do a great fist pumping anthem without dumbing it down to Def Leppard - 'Let's Get Rocked' annoyance. 'Come Back' picks up the tempo but retains the anthem factor, delivering with yet another great chorus that'll stick in your head. 'Magic' is an awesome mid-tempo coaster in the vein of John Waite's 'Missing You' - the radio monster hit that should've been. Fantastic stuff! 'Can't Stop' is another cranking tune that turns up the heat (red hot lead break, too!). And 'Every Schoolboy Knows' is interesting as the band marries a rigid, almost semi-industrial rhythmic feel with AOR gradiosity, topped off by a wild Trevor Rabin-style octave divider guitar solo.
I could go on and rave about every single track on here - they're all that good. One of those albums you can pop in and you'll never want to skip a song. And avid Aviator fans get an extra treat as the CD re-issue contains 2 bonus tracks, 'Woman In Love' and 'Holding On'. The latter is a classy, somewhat somber slice of AOR while 'Woman In Love' is a basic rocker, Aviator as stripped down as you'll ever hear them.
The icing on the 'Aviator' cake is Neil Kernon's masterful production which captures the band's euphoric stadium rock sound perfectly. Kernon, who had also done excellent work with Dokken, Queensryche, Streets, Kansas and Michael Bolton in the mid 80s, knows how to dial in just the right amount of AOR polish without losing any of the vital rock edge. No wonder this album has aged beautifully and sounds as good as ever.
Bottom line: 'Aviator' is ear candy of the highest order and I'll put this up against any Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi or whatever album. Essential purchase for any self-respecting lover of AOR, melodic rock and quality 80's style rock, period.