All You Need is Now

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ace of Base and ABBA: From Sweden with Love

Svenska flaggan

Here's an article 15 years in the making! Sweden's première pop supergroups ABBA and Ace of Base have been compared to each other since 1992. It just goes to show how much they have in common.

ABBA: Appeared at 1974 Eurovision festival.
AoB: Current member Clara Hagman on Svenska Idol last year.

ABBA: Agnetha Fältskog is the new Greta Garbo.
AoB: Former member Linn Berggren is the new Agnetha Fältskog.

ABBA: Once nominated for a Grammy.
AoB: So were AoB, but lost to multi-winner Sheryl Crow.

ABBA: Super Trouper sleeve and a couple videos shot a Swedish circus.
AoB: Jenny Berggren has song called "Living in a Circus".

ABBA: Signed to Polar Music. Catalogue owned by Universal.
AoB: "Decca-ed" by Polar Music. Signed to Universal in Europe outside Nordic countries.

ABBA: Two guys, one blonde, one brunette/redhead.
AoB: Two guys, one blonde, one brunette (then and now).

ABBA: Messrs Andersson and Ulvaeus return to UK #1 with West End divas in Chess.
AoB: Jonas Berggren and Ulf Eckberg discover barely legal girls through a demo and Idol.

ABBA: All four members had some solo or side career.
AoB: Jonas Berggren produced Yaki-Da, Jenny Berggren leaves for solo career.

ABBA: Had success in many countries, including the Iron Curtain.
AoB: Had success in many countries, playing ex-bloc countries.

ABBA: Only US #1 "Dancing Queen"
AoB: Only US #1 "The Sign".

ABBA: Numerous compilations since 1975.
AoB: Numerous compilations since 1999.

ABBA: Wrote English-language track with Neil Sedaka.
AoB: Recently met "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" crooner.

ABBA: Fältskog recorded two Diane Warren/Albert Hammond Snr. tracks on 1987 solo album.
AoB: "Don't Turn Around" from US duo, also sung by Aswad and Tina Turner.

ABBA: Fältskog had stalker ex from Nederland.
AoB: Had stalker fan from Deutschland.

ABBA: "The Name of the Game"
AoB: "What's the Name of the Game?"

ABBA: "Voulez-Vous"
AoB: "Voulez-Vous Danser".

ABBA: "Angeleyes".
AoB: "Angel Eyes".

There may be more, but then, it's cheap to compare, innit?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Begging 4 Attention: Ace Of Base Return With “All for You”

Begging 4 Attention: Ace Of Base Return With “All for You”

The Disc Kiosk - CD on Demand

Leather Jackets
The rarest of the Rocket Mans original studio albums on CD.

A few years ago, there was a CD on Demand service in the UK called The Disc Kiosk, run by Diablo Group plc, which reissued out of print and lesser-known titles in limited editions. The bulk of the titles were from the Universal conglomorate. It was a minimalist operation, yet done in hundreds, just printing the title, logo, solicitors notice, etc. on the disc and a brief description and song title on the back of the case, and the cover without elaborate liner notes, with the discs on pro-quality lightscribed CD-Rs. There were machines at the late MVC and Woolworths chains that customers could use. This may have been a way to keep them from being pirated (though most titles likely and a couple I have actually were on the black market anyway). Little info could be found, and the site and eBay store 404'ed. Normal CDs can barely make it anymore, let alone a printing and pressing station. They must have entered administration as it hardly caught on it seems. The titles were back in musical purgatory (a lot of titles I'm looking for are and I'll explain in future).
The few that I know were part of this programme were:

Elton John - Leather Jackets (pictured) - went for the original Japanese made US CD instead
Jim Diamond (1993) - found the original CD before he passed away and the price went up
10cc - The Greatest Hits of 10cc 1972-1978
10cc - Meanwhile - not on my list but three others are
Vangelis - Soil Festivities (click for more info; just gotta get him with Jon Anderson and Aphrodites Child for you-know-who)
Kiss - Asylum (all set with Messrs Stanley and Simmons!)
INXS - Shabooh Shoobah (already have this on EU-made US CD)
Rush - TBD (pre-1989 but I'm looking for most of the LPs now)
Moody Blues - Time Traveller (didn't expect a boxed set there)

The company faded into obscurity, so I'm just working with what I know and can find. I think if any surviving copies from DK are around and for sale, they might get a few bob, depending on the title, even though most of them flopped and were likely slated when released the old way. I wouldn't mind getting the DK edition of the Elton John album as I like imports as did he before he was big. I'm sure he couldn't care less about the budget reissue as he disowned the album, which only die-hard fans like anyhow. Some DK editions may pop up on amazon or eBay. Since they were authorised by UMC, it's a contrast to ex-Soviet state-made pirates or home-burned CDs, which cannot be resold for profit except by the copyright owner (though some wind up at the charity shop).
To wrap this up, I say this straddles the fence between boring CD-Rs and EU imports. Something similar was at some fye locations in the States for a bit but that was also a flash in the pan. Australia had coin-op CD copying machines, but that can be done at home if you have a computer. The Disc Kiosk could have been a saving grace in an already shakey music industry.

Life after a-ha?

original a-ha drawing
Original drawing by me.  L-R: Morten Harket, Pål Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen.

As all a-ha fans know, the band will come to an end by the holiday season. As hard as it is to say goodbye, all good things must come to an end. When the new year comes, we wonder what will come next for Messrs Harket, Waaktaar-Savoy, and Furuholmen. I see them having more time for their existing solo careers. New solo releases from Morten Harket and Magne F are immiment, as well as the long-awaited next studio release from Savoy with Lauren and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy. Mags also has an art career with works that are seen in a gallery or two, and the ocassional acting gig for father-of-five Harket, who sometimes appears in the Norweigian tabloids.
Many a-ha releases along with solo remain officially unreleased in North America (primarily the States where they continue to be overlooked), leaving fans here to order imports and downloads as usual. I'm hoping Rhino will reissue albums out-of-print as well releasing for the first time later releases, though the demand is low, despite a brief US leg on the recent tour (I'll have to fly to the EU when I get the dough).
Who knows? Maybe they'll get back together again in future. Others have. Surely, this is an amicable disbanding. The music will live on forever, so it'll seem like they never left.
UPDATE: a-ha have reunited in 2015 but for how long?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ace of Base: New and Improved

Ace of Base

The wait is almost over! Ace of Base are back, but not quite what it seems. Jenny Berggren left last year for a solo career and her sister Linn hasn't been part of the band in seven years time, living a quiet life these days. Their brother Jonas and longtime partner Ulf Eckberg have brought in two new girls, Julia Williamson and Clara Hagman. At first, it was thought that a new group would be founded, but keeping the old name is a double-edged sword; going back to the old guard means easy acceptance, but on the other hand, some may miss the old lineup and think it's not the same. They have been reinvented for the 2010s I suppose.
The new album, The Golden Ratio, will be out soon. I hope it'll be released officially in the Americas, as that hadn't happened the last time at first, so I had to get an import of the last studio release Da Capo. Classic rock bands have been able to replace key members, so Europop shouldn't be that much different.
Jennys own album My Story should be out later this year, but you know what they say about the whole being better than the sum of the parts. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet says she is against the name being used without her.
The first single from AOB's new record is "All for You" and for Jennys solo début "Here I Am".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1964 the Tribute - Not Beatlemaniamania but an Incredible Simulation (Review)

1964 The Tribute

After a lifelong devotion to the Beatles and most of their solo careers, I finally managed to see a tribute band. Even though I saw tributes to other successful EMI acts, I had some reservations about this kind because of how big they were. Since 1964 the Tribute from Oklahoma were playing the state fair for a free show (with admission), I thought I'd try it once; also since no one else I liked were there this year.
The music critic from the paper didn't bother to come, as he isn't too big on tribute acts after slating one, so I'll have a go at it. He let me do a review of a Queen tribute and put it on his blog, but more on that later.
There were a lot of fairgoers of every living generation there. It was also over-60s day at the funfair, so many of those that were boomers came, as well as the Tom Brokaw generation, in addition to those who weren't even born when Messrs Lennon and/or Harrison were alive. Of course real fans came. I couldn't convince some to go with me, reasons ranging to schedules to being taken aback by someone else pretending to be John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
The show ranged from every vintage from late 1962 through 1966. Nothing after would work, even though competitors will do that and even some solo to boot like Rain. At first, I just looked briefly at the screen so not to kill the mystique, as the band members are ageing and have been at it as a group much longer than the real thing, which is always the case. Sometimes, the impersonations weren't perfect, but at least were still Northern. You have to forget that those were Yanks doing a Scouse take of what Shakespearean thespians or maybe Renaissance fair reenactors do so it's not like Madonna to put it that way! The gear and instruments were replicas of those used in those crazy days of screaming girls, press conferences, and hotel confinements. One can hear what's playing here. I wonder what the genuine article thought of this kind of thing. The missuses even. Apple's solicitors stopped Beatlemania! at first, but backed off later.
From "Please Please Me" to "Taxman", many favourites were revisited, along with some banter which did break the time warp so to speak, as "John" told everyone to get out their "pocket phones" for "In My Life". I tried filming that, but I'm no Dickie Lester! It wasn't the kind of show I would bootleg, so I'll order the album on emusic instead.
So Beatle people, do try it once to see if it does the boys justice. I feel this is living vicariously for both the players and fans. Still, it will never truly be the same.