Bye Bye Girl
(single: B-side Odeon SD 5965, 1964)
A normal career for a pop group went something like this: the group formed when the members were about 15 years old, had their first record a couple of years later, and split up because of student exams or having to do their military service.
Åke Ejdetjärn, however, was a band leader in his 30s who realized that changes were coming. So he found three kids, used his last name and a bit of imagination, and – presto! – we had a group with the unlikely name Ejdetjärn Boosies.
“Bye Bye Girl” hooks you after a couple of bars; the singer loses his battle with the English language, but the charm and enthusiasm hopefully keeps you listening. And Ejdetjärn still hasn’t used his secret weapon – a terrific organ solo.
What If Johnny Says No
(single: Fontana 271 230 TF, 1964; EP: Fontana 466 269 TE, 1964)
When Kay Svanerud and her girl-quartet are in full swing, they have no problems with the English language. There’s no hesitation here at all, and within a few seconds you’re hooked. That twanging guitar could have been taken from any of the early studio works of Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore.
The Kays experienced a few exciting years, in which one of the high points was when the group appeared as a warm-up band for the Beatles at Ice Stadium.
Let Me Show You Who I Am
(single: Odeon SD 5969, 1964; LP: “Let Us Show You!” Columbia SSX 1011, 1964)
Swedish 1960s pop music was, to say the least, concentrated in the big cities, at least when it came to the groups that got into the Top Ten. To come from northernmost Sweden (Kiruna) and become one of the four or five most popular bands was quite an achievement.
The Shanes made their big breakthrough with “Let Me Show You Who I Am,” and perhaps it didn’t hurt that the group showed up where the voting for the Top Ten was to take place!
A Mountain of Silver
(single: Karusell KFF 588, 1964)
The Shamrocks were a group that toured around half of Europe and enjoyed great success, especially in Germany. At home in Sweden the Shamrocks remained pretty much unknown, in spite of the fact that in 1964 they had even won the competition “Stockholm’s Beatles” at the Kingside Club.
“A Mountain of Silver” has a lot of Mersey-beat about it, and the Shamrocks were one of the first Swedish groups (together with the Mascots) to use this style with good results.
Every Time I Turn My Back
(EP: Select A-001, 1964)
Groups coming from outlying parts of Sweden were often a step behind the big-city groups, which was not so surprising when you realize that most of the record companies were in Stockholm.
Although they were from Jönköping, the Hoods were advanced in their development, as you can hear in the suggestive “Every Time I Turn My Back.” In this song the group successfully builds up to the peak of the refrain. In spite of having three more singles, the Hoods never really got to the same heights they did with this song.
As singer and songwriter the Hoods had Göran Lindberg, later a well-known dance-band singer (!) with experience in groups like Matz Bladhs and Göran Lindbergs trio.
Why Is Love So Blind
(EP: Scan-Disc SCD 27, 1964)
This song was also released with Swedish lyrics (“False Promises”), when Birgitta Gigg and Angela Persson in the midst of their troubles declare that “there are plenty of other boys.” With the charming organ and staccato guitar in the background, you could in good conscience call “Why Is Love So Blind” a minor pop classic.
In spite of this successful song, the Kringlornas’ record company tried to launch the duo as a top Swedish pop group. It was also the record company that changed the group’s name from Gela and Giggi to Kringlorna, which was like exchanging the plague for cholera!
The HEP STARS
(single: Olga SO 06, 1965)
Say what you want about this group, but to occupy first, second, and fourth place on theTop Ten at the same time is a fantastic achievement – even though they had released the four singles at approximately the same time.
Many of the Hep Stars’ songs have, shall we say, a high nonsense-factor, in the style of the Kingsmen (“Louie, Louie”) and the Trashmen (“Surfin Bird”). As for me, I have never heard a better – or shall we say worse – version of this song.
(single: HMV X 8661, 1965)
“Muddy Hands” is often acknowledged when talking about whether or not there was really Swedish ‘60s pop music. Aside from the professional performance (it is Anders “Henkan” Henriksson’s very first attempt as a producer), you are struck by the lyrics and their dark (to put it mildly) message, a half year before John Lennon cried “Help!”
This was not a song that appealed to a wide audience, and the Cherry Stones traveled later to Germany, where they made one more single.
A Sad Boy
(single: Decca F 44434, 1965; LP “Your Mascots,” Decca LK 4704, 1965)
The Mascots’ fourth single is a surprisingly well-produced song for early 1965, and the song has a minor-key feeling to it which is difficult to resist.
The Mascots were Stockholm’s first real beat-group who got to make a record (“I Like My Bike”), and in the summer of 1964 they had the honour of being a warm-up band for the Beatles at Isstadion (a Stockholm concert stadium).
In spite of five Top Ten placings, that really big hit always evaded them, and the Mascots’ popularity gradually waned as the years passed.
At The Club
(single: Polydor NH 10982, 1965)
The T-Boones, with guitarist Kenny Håkansson as leader, made only three singles, but both “At The Club” and “What a Feeling” show a bold instrumental and vocal style. Heads above the other songs, “At The Club” has a fantastic echo effect and beat, which put it ahead of contemporary Swedish releases.
And the fact that they took their name from T-Bone Walker gave them an extra advantage.
Don’t Turn Your Back
(single: Platina PA 104, 1965; EP: Platina 2001, 1965)
Tages’ reputation as a pop group was not the best, at least not in the beginning. Then the most remarkable period of development began for Swedish pop music, and after a couple of years Tages was at almost the same level as the best U.S. and British groups.
“Don’t Turn Your Back” is, however, an early masterpiece, with its acoustic guitars and echoing drums. Anders “Henkan” Henriksson had already begun to learn how to produce records...
Searchin’ For Shake
(single: Polydor NH 10992, 1965)
Helsingborg was clearly not one of the more active pop music cities during the ‘60s, since the Shakemakers were the only group from that city who got a chance to make a record. It was all the better for Helsingborg’s reputation that the group’s debut single, “Searchin’ For Shake,” did so well. The song evokes the same thrilling feeling as Them’s “Gloria.”
I Don’t Want Your Love
(single: Columbia DS 2264, 1965)
The Shanes (a name taken from the movie “Shane”) began as an instrumental group, moved on to be a rhythm-and-blues group, and to later have their greatest success as a pop group.
“I Don’t Want Your Love” comes from their rhythm-and-blues phase, a time when the group’s guitarist, Staffan Berggren, was the main songwriter and a time when the group’s long hair was the big topic of conversation.
(Single: Decca F 44439, 1965)
The Moonjacks, from Stockholm, made three singles and remained among the second-rate groups of the pop music wave – those groups that never made it onto the Top Ten but who still could earn a living by touring for a couple of years.
The Moonjacks’ singles contain various styles of music, and the best of them is this Bo Diddley influenced piece.
About The Sun
(single: B-sida, Triola TD-284, 1965)
This is really not a remarkable song, but when the unusual instrument, the oboe, shows up with its playful, catchy tones, the potential of this song to be a hit rises considerably. In Motala they clearly knew what to do to get that perfect sound.
“About The Sun” was even promoted on the TV-program “Drop In,” but even this promotion didn’t persuade the Tio i Topp jury to put the group on their list.
The HEP STARS
(single: Olga SO 09, 1965; LP: “We And Our Cadillac,” Olga LPO 01, 1965)
“Cadillac”! A song which you probably either love or hate. Many of the Hep Stars’ songs evoke feelings, but “Cadillac,” just like the group’s version of “Farmer John,” really swings, and it’s not so easy to do that on cue to make a recording.
Alfred E Goes Surfing
(single: Dollar DS-1, 1965)
You just have to read the title to realize that there will perhaps be something special about this song.
To judge from “Alfred E Goes Surfin’” and the Madmen’s second and final single, “Rambler,” the group was Sweden’s answer to surf-music culture and novelty songs. And judging from the unbelievable sound, they must not have had much money for producers and technicans.
The Trashmen would have been jealous.
Now It’s Over
(single: Odeon SD 5980, 1965)
“Now It’s Over” shows that the line between pop and dance-band music can be extremely fine. But the Howlers, Kristianstad’s pop-music favorites during the ‘60s, managed to stay on the right side of that line, and the result was a delightful beat-ballad.
Although you wonder what a guy like Doug Sahm could have done with this song.
(recorded 1965, first released on CD “Forgotten Rock in Hässelholm 1964-1994” Kanoon Records, 1994)
With all due respect to Per-Åke “Peps” Persson’s Olga-singles, in 1994 there emerged a peerless recording from 1965, when Peps was a member of the pride of Hässelhom, the Downbeat Crowd. They opened their own pop club in a barn and enjoyed success in many parts of Sweden.
The record company didn’t think that this blues music was worth gambling on, so almost 30 years would pass before this recording saw the light of day. When you hear those gliding tones come out of 18-year-old Peps’ mouth as he sings “The Snake,” it makes you wonder what that record company was thinking.
La La La
(single: Karusell KFF 626, 1965)
It was Ola & The Janglers who would have a hit with “La La La” in 1966, but this one is completely different. There’s a lot of power in this song, and a singer who accompanies that intensity with perfect precision.
Don’t ask me to try and explain the connection, but it sounds just like the Fleshtones, the early ‘80s best American band.
“La La La” was the Shamrocks’ greatest contribution to Swedish pop history, but the group is still best known for its version of the song “Balla Balla.” What a shame!
(single Swe-Disc SWES 1115, 1965)
When Norrköpings Scarlet Ribbons came up to the studio in Stockholm, they happened to discover something called the ‘fuzzbox’ – and suddenly the intended ballad “Three Roses” became a whole other song!
Scarlet Ribbons also tried to take the fashion world by storm, through their flexi-single “Pop-Tie,” to try and promote the zipper-necktie. (Of course, it was a tie that looked like a long zipper!) The company that backed the idea later went bankrupt, not surprisingly.
(single: Olga SO 16, 1965)
“Floskler, Jeremiader Och Rim Till Omusikalisk Nation” [FJORTON, Swedish for 14) (literally: empty phrases, lamentations, and rhymes for an unmusical nation] That was one of the explanations for the name “14”, and the number sits in quotation marks too. Another explanation is that they wanted to choose a name that would stand out from the crowd.
“14” made eight singles and one album but were possibly a little too reserved for the Tio i Topp jury.
But for one of the members things went considerably better some 30 years later. His name is Olle Nilsson – or is it John Lennon?
MERRYMEN WITH BOZ
(single: Karusell KFF 835, 1965)
In 1976-77 Boz Scaggs made his big breakthrough with the album “Silk Degrees” and the songs “Lowdown,” “What Can I say?” and “Lido Shuffle.” His newest fans certainly had no idea that already in the mid-60s he had recorded a completely different album in Sweden, which now is, to say the least, a much-sought-after collector’s item.
He made, besides that, a short guest appearance in the Rolling Stones influenced group Merrymen, where Bo Hansson and Bill Öhrström were the lead members.
This guest appearance was very successful, at least judging from the terrific version of the old Coasters song.
(single: Nashville NS 845, 1965)
No, it doesn’t work to sound like the Pools do on “Darling Corey.” It must have been absolutely a producer’s nightmare. It’s easy to think the instruments were drills and powersaws.
“Darling Corey” shows, nevertheless, that there’s only a hair’s difference between noise and a bold sound. Yet somewhere in the background you know that “Darling Corey” really is a good song.
Words Enough To Tell You
(flexi-single: “Bildjournal’s Top Records of 1965”; single: Decca F 44508, 1966)
“Words Enough To Tell You” was perhaps the Mascots’ finest hour as a beat-group, and the song later also got a good reputation among foreign record collectors.
Unfortunately, the Mascots made the mistake of first releasing the song on a flexi-single, and when it later came out on a single, many potential record-buyers already had their own copy.
Land Of A 1000 Dances
(single: Columbia DS 2286 1965)
After the Namelosers broke into the Top Ten with “New Orleans” in February of 1965, the band members believed that “Land of a 1000 Dances” would be the single that would guarantee them future success.
The Namelosers pulled out all the stops on this recording, and the arrangements made it almost seem like their own composition. (It’s of course only the “na na-na-na-na-na” part that reminds you of the original.)
The Tio i Topp jury thanked them by not voting the song onto the list, and after this national embarrassment, the Namelosers lost heart.
So Many Girls
(single: Platina PA 115 1966)
“So Many Girls” was probably the single that finally put Tages on the Swedish pop music throne. A pop song in waltz-rhythm with a prominent flute accompaniment was not exactly what you would expect.
That Tages then would surpass this single with most of their future single releases you still couldn’t have imagined.
Back Door Man
(single: Colubmia DS 2292, 1966)
The Best were one of the first supergroups in Sweden. Here we have drummer Tommy Tausis (Strangers, Tages, Spotnicks, Moonlighters) and guitarist Johnny Lundin (Wild Ones, Hi-Balls, Lee Kings).
It seems unfair to compare the group’s version of “Back Door Man” with the Howlin’ Wolf original. But I have a weakness for the way that ‘60s groups’ make pop music from blues, and superguitarist Johnny Lundin’s biting guitar-playing gives the song added energy.
OLA & THE JANGLERS
Love Was On Your Mind
(single: Gazell C-175, 1966; LP: “Surprise,” Gazell GMG-1203, 1966)
With Claes af Geijerstams joining Ola & The Janglers around the year-end 1965-66, the group began to move higher on the charts.
“Love Was On Your Mind” would have certainly become a worldwide hit if the Rolling Stones had recorded it; at least, the song became a big hit in Sweden and Ola & The Janglers’ first one in the Top Ten. There would be more of them to follow.
You Just Gotta Know My Mind
(single: Knäppupp KN 4590, 1966)
Donovan is credited as composer here, but it simply has to be a mistake. He would probably have swallowed his mouth-organ and burned his jean-jacket if he had heard Steampacket massacring “You Just Gotta Know My Mind.”
It’s production at its best, where the sound is first compressed and then the instruments come in like the sound of angry bees.
It doesn’t do any harm that singer Rolf Scherrer (it isn’t the group’s best known member, Mikael Ramel, who sings this one) sounds like old 13th Floor Elevators’ singer Roky Erickson in search of UFOs.
Did we really have music like this in Sweden at the beginning of 1966?
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