Title: “Almost Unplugged”
Label: MVD Audio
Release Date: 4/7/2009
Genre: Hard Rock
Recorded during the band’s tour for the “Secret Society” album, they decided to do a one-off acoustic show and lucky for all of their fans they made sure to capture it on audio and video for all of us to enjoy. While unplugged albums are no longer something new and have been done to death in the eyes of some music fans, the interesting aspect of how Europe did it was in their decision to not only deliver classics from their older releases alongside their newest material, but also some well considered covers that truly suit them. Joey Tempest shows us that he hasn’t lost a single note of his register as he sings new classics like “Got To Have Faith” from the bands “Start From The Dark” CD and reaches all the way back for gems like “The Final Countdown” and “Memories” that comes from the bands very first release. I must admit that I liked the piece from “Secret Society” in this fashion with “Forever Traveling” much more than I liked it on the original studio recording, and I guess that this was based on my preferring “SFTD” a lot more than the album that was its follow up.
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Title: “Secret Society”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 11/7/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
Europe resurfaced to the Hard Rock community with “Start From The Dark”, a rallying call of music that showed that the band had not suffered over time but instead improved like some fine wine. The release gave a number of killer tunes such as the title track and “Hero” most specifically. Touring for this album broke venue records and this was not bad for a band that had not performed together in well over a decade. Their new release “Secret Society” continues along with a lot of the same formula that was used on “SFTD” but I admit that it takes a few listens to appreciate it. Joey Tempest still rocks and truly knows how to win the listener over with his smooth voice and should he need to belt them out he does not have any problems. Tempest actually wrote most of the album this time around and while this is a solid disc, there is hardly any of the punch that we felt on “SFTD”. I also felt that the album was lacking in the providing some kind of anthem along the lines of “The Final Countdown” which made this band a household name back in the glory days. There is some killer guitar riffing by John Norum as one would expect and on the whole, this is not a bad album. There are several rockers present with “Love Is Not The Enemy” and “Always The Pretenders” (the first single from the release) and I think overall that it will continue to please their existing fan base. The ballad for the album falls in “A Mother’s Son” and that serves it’s purpose fine and should have lighters or cell phones raised during performances going forward. Personally, I loved “The Getaway Plan” because that seemed to mix classic old school vibe with some of today’s freshness.
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Title: “The Final Countdown Tour: Live In Sweden 1986” – 20th Anniversary
Label: Music Video Distributors
Style: Hard Rock
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their blockbuster album and tour for “The Final Countdown”, Music Video Distributors has re-issued a concert film that allows fans of the band Europe to relive the glory days of Hair Metal once again. This is also the perfect way to see the band in their prime if you were among those who were too young to enjoy them during those days and instead have only heard about it from the folks who remember and are now called the “Old School”. To say that the song “The Final Countdown” was both a blockbuster and an instantly memorable hit would be an understatement as it was one of those tracks that once you heard it, you were going to find it in your audio memory banks forever. Oddly enough it would be the case whether you loved or hated the song and it’s popularity made the band a juggernaut that would be the group others were measured against. The song itself was a majestic track with flourishing keyboards and not only was it living on a consistent MTV rotation and Rock radio but it also became a mainstay at sporting events worldwide. It was a song that single handedly helped to propel Europe into the stratosphere as a Hard Rock super power.
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Title: “Live From The Dark”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 2/21/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
I admit that when I covered the Europe appearance in New York last year that I was not sure what to expect. It was a band that I knew of mainly based on the radio hits and constant video on the once music rich MTV. I arrived to a capacity filled venue and experienced an evening of kick ass Rock and Roll that night and it made me smile when I read that the band would be releasing a live DVD based on this tour. To many people of the world Europe was considered “Hair Metal” and with their signature track “Final Countdown” the band found a comfortable home on radio, in video and at large sporting events. 2005 would mark the first time the band had toured since 1992 and not only did this serve as a reunion tour but it would also provide support for the surprisingly effective album “Start From The Dark”. The album featured a Europe that would take the dismissive listener totally off guard with its rich hooks and powerful vocal numbers. If you expected a milquetoast, keyboard laden CD full of sappy music you would be wrong and cheating yourself by passing on it. Instead the album rocks solid from top to bottom. The DVD was filmed on the final night of the bands tour at a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo Theatre and features a great number of their classics as well as a nice amount of tracks from the new album. The band is in great shape and while it’s a straight concert shoot with limited special effects I think most fans of the band would enjoy it. As someone who caught this reunion show I was especially impressed and reminded of how good it actually was to see them. Joey Tempest does not seem to have aged much since I last remembered seeing his videos and guitarist John Norum (recently returning from a stint in Dokken) proves that he is one of the better players in Rock and Roll. Mic Michaeli performs his magic on keyboards and when he begins the signature track as a closer it’s a response from the audience that most bands only hope to receive. Ian Haugland and Jon Leven keep the rhythm section in check but showcase the level of talent they possess as well. My favorite tracks fall to the hits that I know from years ago to the new material on the highly recommended “Start From The Dark” CD that is reviewed elsewhere on the site. Overall I found little disappointment if any. Highlights are the opener as it brings you right into the concert head on, the acoustic version of “Carrie” sung by Joey and the few thousand audience members and of course the resounding “Final Countdown”.
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Title: “Start From The Dark”
Label: Reality Music
Release Date: 6/7/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
In the heyday of 80’s “Hair Metal” there was no escaping the signature synthesized beginning of “The Final Countdown” by Europe. Once the music was in your head there was no way that you would ever forget it and as a result it became almost a bookmark on this era of Hard Rock music. Europe had a couple of hits in the USA with that track and “Carrie” and for fans who appreciated them there were of course more. The music fans that leaned to the heavier side of things hated them with passion and there was seldom a middle ground in music fandom back then. Heavy Metal and Hard Rock were still widely close but varied formats of the overall genre with one side for Europe and Poison and the other to Metallica and Anthrax. I did not know what to expect when I began to spin the new CD in my changer but as it played I found a very different Europe than the one I had expected or remembered. Fans who would think an over the top demonstration of keyboard will be present on the release will be very surprised as well for instead of this we have a large amount of solid rocking tunes. The CD begins with a bang on “Got To Have Faith” and this track simply rocks and shows this not as a lame band but an experienced group who had grown musically over the 20 years it has been since the US had them on the airwaves.
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