Europe - The Final Countdown

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited September 25 in year-1986

image
ARTIST: Europe
ALBUM: The Final Countdown
LABEL: Epic
SERIAL: FE 40241 (LP), EK 40241 (CD)
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2001, Legacy, EK 85757 * 2009, Epic (Japan), EICP-1249

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Joey Tempest - vocals * John Norum - guitars * Mic Michaeli - keyboards * John Leven - bass * Ian Haughland - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Final Countdown * 02 Rock The Night * 03 Carrie * 04 Danger On The Track * 05 Ninja * 06 Cherokee * 07 Time Has Come * 08 Heart Of Stone * 09 On The Loose * 10 Love Chaser

Background

For Swedish band Europe, this was without doubt their breakthrough effort. After two prior efforts, 'The Final Countdown' was their launching pad into the big time.

The previous album 'Wings Of Tomorrow' demonstrated their potential as a hard rock outfit in the mould of UFO and Thin Lizzy, but with this album, they had taken on a commercial flavour, with Giuffria approved poodle hairstyles and threads to match.

Still, they had the pulling power with lead singer Joey Tempest's looks, plus their label Epic bought in Kevin Elson to give the band that Americanized sheen they were so desperate to achieve.

They were playing out some kind of trans-atlantic turf war, with Bon Jovi in the red white and blue camp, and Europe in the yellow and blue. Though both bands were different, the success of their respective albums at the time ('Slippery When Wet' and this one..) made the comparison inevitable.

The Songs

Well, who hasn't heard the parping keyboard line from the title track 'The Final Countdown'? Or seen the video? or heard the polyphonic ringtone, or the MIDI'fied version in some Corporate Elevator? Yes, the song that spawned a thousand moans and groans years after, and a song that is synonomous with the 80's. The fact that it sold millions is beside the point right?

This is not a one-track album. Far from it. Listen to the glorious power of songs such as 'Rock The Night' or the fab 'On The Loose'. Even the ballad 'Carrie' is classic Swedish tear-jerker stuff.
Songtitles like 'Ninja' and 'Cherokee' make you wonder what all the cultural content was all about. 'Ninja' being the closest to material off 'Wings Of Tomorrow'.

In Summary

Though the band made huge inroads during 1987, they did so without guitarist John Norum, who had become disillusioned with the commercial direction the band had taken. He much preferred the style displayed on 'Wings Of Tomorrow', and so went off to a reasonably successful solo career.

His replacement was Kee Marcello, who joined from the cult glam/AOR band Easy Action. As a result, the band lost nothing in the guitar playing stakes. Despite the ridicule and that oft-heard parping keyboard line from the title track, this remains a critical moment in Swedish AOR history.


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Comments

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    edited September 24

    I've listened to TFC several times in its entirety the last couple of weeks, and it stands out as a fabulous album. I can understand to a certain extent the ear fatigue caused by the overexposure to the title track, but it's still a great track if you listen to it intentionally with the proper attention, plus John Norum's guitar solo is superb.

    The first three songs are a killer way to start an album.

    Lately, I've read harsh comments about Carrie, a beautiful ballad like few precious ones, and I think it's mainly snobbery as it seems it's cool to bash ballads these days. On the contrary, I miss good power ballads nowadays.

    Europe 'Americanized' their sound with a highly melodic flavor helped by the fact that this is Mic Michaeli's first true contribution on keys, but there's still Euro metal/hard rock moments aplenty here.

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