Tag Archives: Ebba Grön

…2015 w 05 – Album of the week is “Det är ni som e dom konstiga det är jag som e normal” by Thåström

ThåströmOk, let´s continue the album of the week series with one of the best efforts from the solo career of Swedish rocker deluxe Joakim Thåström. After being the driving force behind seminal acts Ebba Grön and Imperiet there was probably no way to turn than to himself after those (in Sweden at least) extremely popular and influential bands imploded.  In his early solo work Thåström carried on much in the same vein as before, the music however never loosing the feeling of being born out of an excitable and singular mind.

First solo album “Thåström” (1989) had several great songs establishing him as an artist in his own right and not only a member of a band. Stand-out track “Ståaldrigstill” was in many ways a declaration of intent from this great songwriter who, just as the title says, never has been standing still but instead continued to develop his craft. Follow up “Xplodera mig 2000” (1991) showed a harder sound prefacing his later dalliance with industrial rock after moving to Amsterdam and forming Peace, Love & Pitbulls (PLP for short), a band said to have influenced Marilyn Manson amongst others. This song from his second solo album sort of leads the way towards what was to come.

The years 1992 – 97 was spent living in Amsterdam, making three albums of hard industrial rock, severely polarizing and confusing Swedish music critics. Influenced by German group Einstürzende Neubauten and Swedish death metal  band Entombed, PLP were much more popular abroad than in Sweden, where they were often seen as an anomaly in the trajectory of Thåström´s career. Singing in English and doing something completely different was perhaps a way for Thåström to escape from his role as Sweden´s resident rock god for a while. That said, make no mistake, this was hard hitting stuff much deserving a listen. Bulldozer guitars, relentless beats and doomsday singing.

Upon returning to Sweden the next phase of Thåström´s solo career started, continuing to this day with a new tour and album scheduled for spring 2015. Again singing in Swedish, immensely pleasing the purists deeply suspicious of earlier detours into English.

Det är ni som är de konstiga“Det är ni som e dom konstiga det är jag som e normal” released in 1999 was a welcome return to form for Thåström, with several of his best songs and a tight, hard sound encapsulating everything that had come before, while still feeling like a new beginning. An English translation of the title would be approximately “You are the strange ones I´m the one who´s normal”, certainly a record title meant as a statement. This time backed by a band consisting of Swedish rock royalty like Chips Kiesby and Heikki Kiviaho of Sator, Henryk Lipp of Blue for Two and the fabulous Mikael Westergren of legendary bands Garbochock and Babylon Blues. A constellation creating a roaring wall of guitars behind Thåström´s passionate singing, here better than ever. Energetic and aggressive rock ´n´roll not ever losing its melodic anchor underneath all the mayhem.

I managed to see a few of the concerts from the tour following this album and remember them as loud and heavy, with Thåström in great form wrapping his thin body around the microphone stand in his inimitable way.  As a bonus the tour also included a series of rare performances by brilliant Swedish pop-recluse Jakob Hellman. Come to think of it, things probably were better in the old days.

Maybe it´s the strength of the live performances following this album that makes it my favourite of his, or perhaps it´s just the quality of the songs themselves. It doesn´t really matter, but for me this is one of those records that instantly transports me back to those days, for better or worse.

Thåström´s career continued with the release of “Mannen som blev en gris” (2002), which to me was slightly less rousing and definitely darker than its predecessor while still containing several good songs. “Skebokvarnsv. 209” (2005) meant a sharp turn into a new musical direction, with mostly acoustic singer-songwriter type songs. The title being the adress in Stockholm where Thåström grew up, and the lyrics largely introspective musings on his formative years and present life. An intensely personal and reflective album unlike any other he´d made. This new musical direction continued both on 2009´s “Kärlek är för dom” and 2012´s “Beväpna dig med vingar”. If the dark blues hymn of new single “Kom med mig” (released just a few days ago) is anything to by, the new album to be released shortly might just surprise us again.

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…2015 w 03 – Album of the week is “Boxen” by Ebba Grön.

Ebba GrönThere´s no point in trying to deny that I´ve become old enough to be hit full on by nostalgic reminiscences of the music of my youth. Ebba Grön was one of those bands that in one way or other connected with everyone in Sweden interested in rock music during the late 70´s and early 80´s. The band derived their name from a Swedish Secret Police operation against left-wing terrorist Norbert Kröcher, who was aiming at freeing compatriots imprisoned after the RAF occupation of the West German Embassy in Stockholm a few years earlier.

Blasting onto the nascent Swedish punk scene with a handful of primitive singles in 1978, their debut album “We´re only in it for the drugs” released in 1979 made an unerasable impression on my then 16 year old mind. All the energy, rage and anti-authoritarianism yearned for by an excitable boy like myself, neatly packed into a collection of  2 minute songs.

Following a career trajectory not that unsimilar to their heroes The Clash, the music soon moved beyond the simplicity of punk as both musicianship and songwriting matured. Musical development not always being a concept well-liked by die-hard punks, Ebba still managed to both keep their old audience as well as gaining a new one with second album “Kärlek & uppror” (Love & rebellion) released 1981. The concerts I managed to see from the tour following the release are still remembered as explosions of excitement. Exstatic and sweaty nights wildly pogoing in small northern community centres and gymnasiums, being too young for the clubs they sometimes played. You never really forget those first experiences of the transformative power that live rock music can have.

Third and final album “Ebba Grön” (1982) took the band even further into the mix of punk energy and the good parts of traditional rock ´n´roll. New member Stry Terrarie (previously driving force of legendary band Garbochock, and deserving a long post of his own sometime later) was a big influence on both sound and songwriting, and the album is perhaps more highly regarded now than it was then. Shortly after its release Ebba Grön disbanded and the story was over.

Ebba Grön BoxenDespite owning all the original records on vinyl, this 5 disc box was of course irresistible when it appeared. Containing all three albums, singles, previously unreleased songs, a live disc and a DVD movie it is the definitive document of this great group. Watching the DVD again recently was a journey back in time, reliving the so called “Turister i tillvaron” tour of 1980-81. The shows were a double act with old friends Dag Vag, a legendary Swedish act known for their idiosyncratic mix of rock and reggae played with punk energy. The encores of this tour usually consisted of both bands joining in to play Dag Vag´s “Samma sak” and Ebba´s monster hit “Staten & kapitalet”. The latter a punk remake of an old tune by Blå Tåget, a well known Swedish progressive rock band. With lyrics detailing the close relationship between the Social Democratic welfare state and the capitalist elite it was an instant smash which everybody could sing along to. Even my parents knew the chorus of this song. Aah, those were the days.

Leading man Thåström moved on to form other influential bands before settling on a solo career continuing to this date. Very few would dispute his position as one of the greatest and most enduring rock musicians this small country has produced. Those interested are advised to check up on Imperiet, Peace Love and Pitbulls and Thåström himself.