The HEP STARS
(single: Olga SO 21, 1966)
When the critics grumbled about Hep Stars, as most did, Benny Andersson sat down and wrote the song “No Response” in 20 minutes, and it scarcely took longer for him to write “Sunny Girl” – his first really successful composition and a perfect beginning to the incomparable year that was 1966, when the Hep Stars seemed to lay siege to first place in Kvällstoppen.
And all that happened from an opinion!
What A Feeling
(single: B-side Polydor NH 59712, 1966)
No compromises here. The T-Boones, quite simply, are out to have a hit song. However, as it turned out, “What A Feeling” was forgotten as the B-side, which is the case for a lot of the songs in this compilation.
In any event, the T-Boones created a fresh song in the area between pop and rhythm-and-blues which almost 30 years later finally gets its well-deserved recognition.
Some years later the T-Boones were heavily influenced by the psychedelic music ‘bug’ and eventually changed their name to Baby Grandmothers.
(single: Triola TD 314, 1966)
In the mid-1960s Ray Davies of the Kinks, with his acoustic guitar and nasal voice, could have patented the word “melancholy.” Just think of songs like “I Go to Sleep,” “Let the Bells Ring,” “Too Much on My Mind,” and “Sunny Afternoon.”
But then the Beathovens came along with “Summer Sun,” a song with a tight but effective production, where Bengt Anderssons voice and the lyrics communicate a feeling that autumn is approaching, a feeling of lost love and moments gone forever.
In Sweden it would be almost 10 years before John Holm succeeded in communicating something similar in “Den Öde Stranden” (“The Deserted Beach”).
But why keep writing, when the radio keeps tormenting us with “Sommaren är kort” (Summer is short).
I Guess So
(single: Olga SO 23, 1966)
Among the dozens of groups from Uppsala that got to make a record, we have chosen The Acts’ first and only single, “I Guess So.” The production was pretty much a failure, but somehow the song works anyway.
In spite of the success of this song, The Acts remained one of the more unknown groups from Uppsala. It was the Nashmen who became that city’s most popular group with their two Top Ten hits.
(single: Polar POS 1019, 1966; LP: “International” Polar POLP 206, 1966)
Björn Ulvaeus has seldom reached the musical heights where we find “No Time.” Still, this song frustrates me every time I hear it. (You can find a well-produced version of this song, with a snappy pop-music sound, on the Hep Stars’ third album).
The problem is that the Hootenanny Singers’ version is too underproduced. Imagine how it would have sounded if they had added a few more instruments. Or imagine what Phil Spector and the Byrds could have done with the song.
But why grumble about it? “No Time” is still a classic of folk-rock music, with a melody that Ulvaeus still hasn’t been able to surpass.
(single: Dollar DS-3, 1966)
With “Alfred E Goes Surfin’” the Madmen had caught up to the surfer music of 1963, and with “Rambler” they have, of course, discovered the hot-rod music of 1964. Now, it doesn’t help that “Rambler” has the same production (or antiproduction) technique as its predecessor, but who wants to be a slave to technique!
At the end of the 1970s a couple of the band members took yet another step backwards by forming the instrumental group “1961.”
(floppy single: “Bildjournalens Go Go Skiva 66,” 1966)
Just before Namelosers were to record this song, Johnny Andersson and Peo Alm sat experimenting with Alm’s newly-built fuzzboxes – and his technical abilities came to light again on “Do-Ao.”
The song proves two things: partly that noise reaches a long way, partly that songs with nonsense titles are always good.
No No No No
(single: B-side Gazell C-184, 1966)
It’s said that Terje Cambrand, a singer in Shivers, is cursed. It’s also said that the drummer, Börje Söderlund, suffers from an acute Keith-Moon complex, but this plays no role when he goes berserk on the drums.
“No No No No,” the B-side of the Shivers’ only single, was produced by no less than Ola Håkansson. He succeeded beyond expectations, and the Shivers’ version surpasses the original English version by the group Sorrows.
Håkansson’s first work as producer also was his best, although I doubt that he will agree...
Cheat and Lie
(single: Philips 350 290 PF, 1966)
The Rogues were once well-groomed kids from the area around Stockholm. The group made two singles with Philips. On the first single’s B-side we find a very tame version of the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About a Mover.”
On “Cheat and Lie” we hear instead the Rogues’ attempt to sound like the Swedish answer to the Four Seasons and Jay & the Americans. Thanks to the arrangement of wind instruments and the vocals, the Rogues can be proud of this effort.
On My Way
(floppy single: “Bildjournalens Go Go Skiva 66,” 1966)
Lee Kings must have been Sweden’s most irregular pop group. The group’s two biggest hits came with “Stop the Music” and “L.O.D.,” songs which you should not play for a younger generation as an example of Swedish ‘60s pop.
But if we dig deeper, we find a group that could be energized but also make delightfully mellow pop music.
“On My Way” is an example of their high energy, and the Lee Kings’ fans must have been shocked when they played this record for the first time.
The HEP STARS
(single: Olga SO 25, 1966; LP: “The Hep Stars” Olga LPO 04, 1966)
Two months after “Sunny Girl” Benny Andersson and Svenne Hedlund followed it up with “Wedding,” the Hep Stars’ best-produced song till that point, a song in a class by itself. Here we find a coherent and gentle balance between organ, drums, and the chorus in the background. It’s a song that would get even the most confirmed bachelor to start thinking about marriage.
Then came “Last Night I Dreamed,” “Malaika,” and “The Story of Little Sofi,” but try instead to remember the really great songs from the Hep Stars. There are actually more than you think.
Baby, I Want To Know
(single: Olga SO 26, 1966)
When the original organist for the Hep Stars, Hans Östlund, left the group after one single, it was not the last we would hear from him. He was also a member of the band Fools, the group where Jerry Williams’ younger brother Andy Williams (it was Arvid Fernström in Swedish) later sang.
The Fools made four singles, and “Baby, I Want to Know” is the one most deserving to go down in history.
Then Östlund made two singles under the name Hazze Hep. Östlund also engendered a Nomads-guitarist, who also got the name Hans Östlund.
Take Her Anytime
(single: Polydor NH 59725, 1966)
Though unassuming on the surface, it is still a powerful song, with drawn-out fuzzbox sound and echoing organ – this is production at its best, although the group itself were pretty much unhappy with it.
“Take Her Anytime” was perhaps Steampacket II’s (there was already a band in England called Steampacket, so they had to add the ‘II’) best contribution. The song was played in England and was even issued there under the band name “the Longboatmen.”
Little Down-Hearted Arthur
(single: B-side, Olga SO 30, 1966; LP: “14 in a Bunch” Olga LPO 03, 1966)
If you judge by the lyrics, Arthur was pretty well cursed all around. In contrast to his mood, the song is a surprisingly well put together creation with a mellow sound. You can also find this song on the group’s album “14 in a Bunch,” an album that was called “Sweden’s most unknown LP.”
In spite of eight singles, the group “14” had no hits, and in the spring of 1968 they disbanded.
During the 1970s Olle Nilsson would make a few albums as a member of Vildkaktus (Wild Cactus) before he changed name and style.
It’s The Same Old Thing
(single: Columbia DS 2317, 1966)
Imagine finding names like Ted Åström and Janne Schaffer in the same group! Both had, as well, earlier been in the much more well-known group Ted And The Top Teens, but as members of the Sleepstones they got into the Top Ten twice.
“It’s the Same Old Thing” did not, however, make it onto that list, in spite of the song being the group’s best composition.
Then things went downhill, at least for the Sleepstones, who changed their name to the Attractions.
(single: Fontana 271 257 TF, 1966; LP: “After All,” Fontana T 687 404 Y, 1966)
Forget “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Island in the Sun,” and everything else. The Fabulous Four also had a completely different side. “Rotten Rats” is not only a tough-sounding title but also an orgy of noise.
The Fabulous Four were considerably ‘tougher’ live, but in recordings they became popular through some mellow singles. But the word “mellow” is probably the last word you would use to describe “Rotten Rats.”
The Girl That You Are
(single: B-side, Decca F 44521, 1966)
During 1966 the Mascots left their simple beat-songs behind them and took a new step in their development. “The Girl That You Are” became one of the group’s best songs from that year, although the single’s dust cover, where the members are waiting for the hangman, is almost better than the song.
You’ve Got Me High
(single: Columbia DS 2322, 1966)
Science Poption was one of the first true musician-groups. They were skillful musicians who decided to show how it can sound when playing skills have the upper hand. Such efforts are often doomed to fail, but after a couple of tenative singles, Science Poption hit with this nice song. “You’ve Got Me High” has, as well, a production that is so subtle, it can scarcely be described.
OLA & THE JANGLERS
Alex Is The Man
(single: Gazell C-190, 1966; LP: “Limelight” Gazell GMG-1205, 1966)
Ola & The Janglers’ tremendous success in 1966 (five Top Ten hits, three LP editions) concluded with the group’s greatest hit till that point, “Alex Is The Man,” which topped both the Top Ten and Kvällstoppen charts. Claes af Geijerstam had reached top form here as a songwriter.
Miss Mac Baren
(single: Platina PA 130, 1966)
The story goes that Tages were to record a new single, but on the way to the recording session they still didn’t know what song they should record. On the bus they caught sight of a sign with the name “Mac Baren” on it, and then they spent the rest of the trip writing a new hit song. It sounds like a classic story about how a classic pop song came to be, and that’s exactly what “Miss Mac Baren” is: a classic pop song.
(single: Bill BT 112, 1966)
The Gents were one of four pop groups from Västerås that had a record during the 1960s. A young man by the name of Pugh Rogefeldt was as well a member of Mercy Sect, but the group never got to record.
All You Got To Do
(single: B-side Swe-Disc SWES 1178, 1967; LP: “Have A Ball With” Swe-Disc SWELP C 51, 1966)
The pop music pride of Jönköping, the Caretakers definitely don’t belong among my favorites, but this song (the flip side to the group’s Top Ten hit “Unchained Melody”) succeeded beyond all expectations. In a driving, intense style Mike Wallace sings here with great feeling – and as with many other classic songs, it’s all over in two minutes.
Usually it’s the song “The End of the World” that is most associated with this group.
Chris-Craft No. 9
(single: Columbia DS 2339, 1967; LP: “SSSS Shanes” Columbia SSX 1026, 1967)
A problem for many Swedish groups were the inferior Swedish studios that they had to record in. The Shanes had the advantage of traveling to London, and there the result was considerably better. Yes, you could even say it was tremendously better, but “Chris-Craft No. 9” was a Tages-class song right from the start.
SOUND LTD SET
(single: Steele Records FS 1108, 1967)
It’s remarkable that an unknown group from the little town of Hörby in central Skåne sounds so outstanding, but even the group’s competition from the surrounding area have praised this band. It of course didn’t help that the only ones who wanted to distribute Sound Ltd Sets records was a small Danish company.
This song’s build-up has scarcely any association with a “sunside world,” but the suggestive vocals, the echo, and the fine guitar-playing make this song into a classic.
Who said that Swedish ‘60s pop was mellow?
MAK LES SOEURS
(single: Ariola 19 644 AT, 1967; only released in Germany)
In spite of the fact that Gothenburg’s popular girl-trio MAK Les Soeurs sang mostly in Swedish, they are still considered a pop group. And when Agneta Wigforss of the group managed to get Tages drummer Freddie Skantze to the altar, their credibility as a pop group became even greater.
We have chosen one of the group’s German singles, of which a Swedish version was also released. Simple, cheery girl-group pop with a capital “P.”
Hard to Forget
(single: G*P GPS 1009, 1967)
A long-forgotten pearl from one of Malmö’s lesser-known groups. A flashy guitar intro with an enthusiastic chorus in the background. The result is a driving pop song which could bring the dead to life. The Moderations didn’t know how right they were (or did they?) when they chose the title for this song.
On the B-side the Moderations (a tough groupname too!) recorded besides an incredible version of Sam Cooke’s “Shake.”
A couple of the members later were part of Hoola Bandoola Band. It is also – unfortunately – hard to forget.
So Long Fanny
(single: Scan-Disc SC 1063, 1967)
The Lay Abouts were a Stockholm band (or Blackeberg and Huddinge, to be more exact) and belonged to the large number of pop groups who at least got to make a record before they heard thank-you-and-goodbye.
The A-side, “So Long Fanny,” was a good effort at making ‘happy’ pop music, but just when the song is on the verge of turning into a singsong, the group breaks away with a wild guitar solo.
Lady of Leisure
(LP: “Popligan” PRH 5003, 1967; single: B-side Columbia DS 2360, 1967)
“Lady of Leisure” was originally released on the compilation album “Popligan.” Science Poption has evolved since “You’ve Got Me High,” and this song would have fit remarkably well in The Who’s repertoire.
“Lady of Leisure” also shows that Science Poption were much too advanced to be really popular.
Every Raindrop Means A Lot
(single: Parlophone SD 6004; LP: “Contrast” Parlophone PMCS 313, 1967)
The year 1967 was when Tages and Henkan finally discovered all the possibilities of the recording studio, and the public had no problem keeping up in the beginning.
“Every Raindrop Means A Lot” is really two completely different songs which, it turns out, fit perfectly well together, just like Tommy Bloms and Göran Lagerbergs alternating vocals.
(single: Philips 350 319 PF, 1967)
The Malmö group Bread was one of the soul music pioneers in Sweden. Philips put a lot of money into the recording of “Motortown Beat” (which itself shows a strong Motown influence) and brought about 10 studio musicians into the studio. But the remarkable result made up for the cost.
Two members of Bread, Paul Olofsson and Anders Melander, would later become members of Nationalteatern.
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