I am a big fan of Swedish singer/songwriter Ted Gärdestad who is sadly no longer with us. As I do from time to time, I was surfing the Swedish CD stores when I discovered a new compilation is coming out later this month. I must confess that I rolled my eyes. His Swedish record company are notorious for milking his back catalogue and rereleasing essentially the same compilation every year with a different name, different cover and slightly different tracklisting.
It was only when I got to the next CD store on my list (Ginza) that I realised that this was an 8 CD box set and that this could be what I’ve been waiting for for years.
Quite a few years ago now, a friend in the know told me that there was a plan to release all of Ted’s albums on CD (including his English language album “Blue Virgin Isles” which has never been released complete on CD) with bonus tracks. I must admit to have given up on ever seeing this happen. We did get a rather good CD box set a few years ago but it wasn’t complete, was very scarce on rarities (although the ones it had were great) and wasn’t organised by album.
But this one could be the one. Ted had 7 proper albums so it doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that 8 CDs should mean a bonus disc, hopefully with all the non-album songs, missing English versions and other bits and pieces. I could be in hog heaven.
Ted was at his peak in the 70s. A freckle faced 15 year old who was signed by Stig Anderson, also ABBA’s manager. Quite a few ABBA fans know of Ted because the four members of ABBA helped with production, instruments and backing vocals on Ted’s early albums. But the songs were all Ted’s and his brother, Kenneth. Ted wrote the music and Kenneth wrote the words based on Ted’s concept for the song.
Ted was incredibly popular in Sweden. It wasn’t long before he became a bona fide teen idol and was selling lots of records. There was an attempt to launch Ted internationally in the late 70s, including a shot at Eurovision, but unfortunately it just didn’t click at the time. Ted lost his way in the 80s, becoming involved in a religious cult and dropping out of the music industry. He made a successful comeback in the 90s but sadly took his own life in 1997.
I remember that I was in Sweden when Ted died and the news left me devastated. I was undertaking a Swedish summer course in Uppsala. My Swedish teacher was very understanding and let me bring in some Ted CDs to play in class and translate. It helped me to come to terms with his death as well as introducing his music to my classmates and being great practice in the Swedish language.
Ted is very highly regarded as a songwriter and many of his songs have become Swedish classics. There is an inherent Swedishness running throughout his music along with a degree of optimism and innocence that can’t be beaten. The chance to finally get a (hopefully) complete set of all of his recordings is very exciting – for me and I’m sure lots of Swedes.
The box set is called “Helt Nära Dig” and comes out on 24 June 2009 in Sweden. The cover is above. As soon as I know the full tracklisting, I will let you know. I hope that I won’t be disappointed.