Archive for the 'ABBA' Category

19
Jul
10

Some Europop from the 70s

Back in the 70s, a certain Europop band from Sweden ruled the charts here in Australia. Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon so went searching through their European archives of songs they had given up on to see is they could match the success of the Swedish palindrome. Here are some of my favourites.

Teach In – “Upside Down” (Netherlands)

Teach In (again) – “See The Sun” (Netherlands)

Champagne – “Rock ‘n Roll Star” (Netherlands)

Marianne Rosenberg – “A VIP” (Germany)

Silver Convention – “Get Up And Boogie” (Germany)

Silver Convention (again) – “Fly Robin Fly”

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30
Apr
10

Remembering Ted Gärdestad

I have been spending the evening remembering Ted Gärdestad, one of Sweden’s most loved and accomplished singer/songwriters. I have always been a big fan and remember how devastated I was when he died back in 1997. I was in Sweden at the time and it was such a shock. He was only 41.

I have been playing lots of clips from You Tube as well as my favourite album of his which is simply titled “Ted”.

Ted mainly sang in Swedish but in 1978, he released an English album that had been recorded in California. The album is called “Blue Virgin Isles” and I found a clip for the hauntingly beautiful title track. Check it out.

11
Apr
10

White Heat – Dusty Springfield

When most people think “classic album” and “Dusty Springfield”, it’s usually “Dusty In Memphis” that comes to mind and rightfully so. But Dusty was not a one-album wonder as such outings as “Everything’s Comin’ Up Dusty”, “Cameo” and even “Reputation” prove.

And then there’s “White Heat”, the 1982 album that divides Dusty’s fan base (although most agree that the cover art pictured above is quite magnificent).

Back when I was in the early stages of being a Dusty fan in the late 80s, I was desperately trying to collect all the music she had ever released. Judge G had given me a biography that included a detailed discography from which I had drawn up a list that I carried with me everywhere, crossing off songs/albums as I found them.

The one album that was proving elusive was “White Heat”, her supposedly disco album released on the Casablanca label (home to Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Village People and many other disco acts). The idea of a Dusty disco album was especially appealing to this little gay boy so I just had to have the album. It was hard to find since it was only ever released in North America and there were never that many copies in the first place.

The Judge and I did a big world trip in 1993 and I traipsed around second hand record stores with my trusty list, managing to find “Cameo”, “Sometimes Like Butterflies” (both 7″ and 12″), the Richard Carpenter album with his Dusty song and many other goodies – except for “White Heat” despite looking in record shops across Europe and the US.

One of our last stops was in LA and we had been on the Paramount studio tour. Not far from the studio was a record shop called Record Hunter or Record Locator or something like that. We went in and were amazed at shelves upon shelves of LPs as far as you could see. It was all quite daunting so we asked the guy behind the counter. He just went up to a shelf and pulled out a copy (one of several). I almost passed out since I had more or less given up by this stage so to find not one but several in the one place was all a bit too much. The Judge was worried that I was going to go all gaga, making the guy up the price. But I kept it together surprisingly well even when he said it was only $20 (I would have gladly paid much more). I didn’t let out a girly scream until after we had left the store. Hows that for self control?

The album rapidly became one of my favourites, made even more special by how I had come by it. I was exceptionally proud of this jewel in my collection.

Of course, it’s not really a disco album. The only out-and-out disco song is the single and opening track “Donnez-Moi”, described by Dusty herself as “sort of funky ABBA”. This could have been huge on dance floors if only it got a proper distribution and promotion. There is also a disco influence in mid-tempo numbers like “I Don’t Think We Could Ever Be Friends” (co-written by Sting), “Don’t Call It Love” (also recorded by Kim Carnes and Dolly Parton) and “Gotta Get Used To You”.

Dusty also dabbles in rock. “Blind Sheep” (with a lyrical contribution from Dusty) is one of Dusty’s more bizarre song choices but it really works.  “I Am Curious” is also rock. Being Dusty, there are also some stirring ballads to be found.

Dusty recorded a stirring version of the Elvis Costello song “Just A Memory” and is one of my favourite tracks. For some reason, it was decided to call the song “Losing You”, strange because she had already had a hit single in the 60s with the same name.

Another gem is the song that closes the album, “Soft Core” although that phrase is nowhere to be found in the lyrics. It is an intimate, cabaret-style number which is beautifully sung. The song was co-written by Carole Pope (as was “I Am Curious”), Dusty’s one time lover. I can’t help but feel that Carole was a big influence on Dusty at the time and encouraged her to be more herself and more daring at the same time. The result was an eclectic album, more synth pop than disco. There is even a vocoder effect on Dusty’s vocals at times, long before that became fashionable.

“White Heat” is well worth checking out. It was finally released on CD in 2002 and is available on iTunes. It’s time that this album got the recognition that it deserves.

Here is a special clip of Dusty performing “Soft Core” live. Dusty made a guest appearance at Rough Trade’s farewell concert in 1986. Rough Trade was Carole Pope’s band and it’s Carole who introduces Dusty at the beginning of the clip.

26
Aug
09

How times change…

There was a time when if you admitted to being an ABBA fan, you were considered a social pariah. These days, if you say you don’t like ABBA then you are considered a social pariah – as I discovered last night.

In Swedish class, I will often translate a Swedish song into English and bring it along to play to the class. Last night, I chose “Var är min clown?” from Frida, which is a Swedish version of the Sondheim standard “Send In The Clowns”.

James wrote about the reaction from the person sitting next to him on his blog. However I got a different reaction from a woman sitting near me.

She asked, “Was that Frida from ABBA?” I confirmed that it was. I said that I loved Frida’s Swedish music although I don’t like ABBA. The look of shock and surprise that I got was priceless. She just could not believe that there was someone in the world who didn’t like ABBA. Once I did, a long time ago, but not anymore.

James somehow read my mind and put up some Frida songs in Swedish so that leaves me with “Var är min clown?”, the song that inspired this post. Whether you understand the lyrics or not, it is a beautiful song, beautifully sung.

14
Jun
09

Ted Gärdestad – the good and bad news about the box set

tedcdbox

CD On have put up the tracklisting for the new Ted Gärdestad box set (see previous blog entry). While there is a lot of good stuff on there (including a few tracks new to CD), there are quite a few missing.

As expected, 7 of the discs are Ted’s studio albums:

  • Undringar (1972)
  • Ted (1973)
  • Upptag (1974)
  • Franska Kort (1976)
  • Blue Virgin Isles (1978) (with both the English and Swedish versions of “Satellite” added)
  • Stormvarning (1981)
  • Äntligen På Väg (1994)

The eighth disc contains non-album songs plus the English songs from the “I’d Rather Write A Symphony” album which was the international version of “Stormvarning”:

  1. Himlen är oskyldigt blå
  2. För kärlekens skull
  3. Rockin’ ‘N Reelin’ (probably the Swedish version)
  4. I’d Rather Write A Symphony
  5. Mindblower
  6. Let The Sun Shine Through
  7. Love Light
  8. Down At The Zoo
  9. Nobody Loves You Now
  10. I’d Rather Write A Symphony (alternate version)

As far as I know, there are three songs not included – the rare duet version of “Låt solen värma dig” that was only released on a single and the English versions of “Rockin’ ‘N Reelin'” and “Jag skå fånga en ängel”. I have these songs on scratchy vinyl which is better than nothing I guess. Since this was meant to be a complete collection, I must admit to being a little disappointed. But you know us fans – we’re never happy!  😉

It would have been nice to see his hit single with Michael B. Tretow under the moniker of Caramba but I can cope without that. Maybe the Caramba album will be released on CD one day.

Thanks to Gustav for letting me know that the tracklisting was up on the internet. I am still without the internet at home so I had to rush into an internet cafe in Sydney.

12
Jun
09

Ted Gärdestad box set about to be released

tedcdbox

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.

01
Feb
09

Tina Stenberg – Tales From A Heart

New album from Tina Stenburg

New album from Tina Stenberg

My first album for 2009 arrived from Sweden on Friday and wow, what an album.

I’ve written about Tina Stenberg before, the Swedish singer songwriter who deserves a much wider audience. Her music and lyrics always touch my heart. Tina’s songs always connect emotionally.

And Tales From A Heart is no different. Eleven beautifully crafted stories of love and loss that have totally hooked me in. I have played the album quite a few times over the last couple of days. I can close my eys and literally be in another place. That’s what great music is all about.

Interestingly, Tina has revisited two songs from her back catalogue – In Your Eyes from her debut album in 1997 and Someday from a 2002 EP. Both favourites of mine so I’m glad that the songs are being presented for a new audience. The new arrangements are noticeably different but not radically so – something a bit different for older fans while retaining the integrity of the originals.

Some of my favourite songs are Better Stay Apart (the trumpet turns my knees to jelly), My Biggest Mistake, Forgive Me and (Things I’d Like To Do) To You. But I can honestly say that I love all the songs.

The album is available right now as a digital download at Tina’s shop at Klicktrack and on the international iTunes.

The physical CD can be bought at CD On and Ginza.

You can hear samples of the songs at the following links:

iTunes also has samples from each of the songs.

Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.




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