Monday, June 04, 2007

Ace of Base vs Ace Of Base - Part 1

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a HUGE Ace of Base fan. The first pop song I ever liked was "The Sign" back in 1994. I don't know what it is about the band that fasinates me so much. Perhaps it's a bit of rotting for the underdog. The band exploded onto the international music scene with their debut album. It broke worldwide records and for a long time was the best selling debut album from any artist in the world until the Spice Girls finally outsold them in the late 90's.

Today I'll post the first of a 3 part special on Ace of Base. I'll focus first on their 3rd album, and their struggles with their record companies in 1998-1999.

After their 2nd album, 'The Bridge' in 2005 the band started to have problems with record companies around the world. In 1998 the band had 7 different record labels around the world, each label wanting the band to have a different sound. Now another thing I love about Ace of Base is that they write, sing, and produce most of their own music. For a group with such artistic integrity the band found it hard to maintain control and keep record labels in different countries happy at the same time.

As a result, when the 3rd album was released there were extensive differences in tracklistings and single releases depending on which country you were in.

For most of Europe the first single was 'Life is a Flower.' The song was upbeat, catchy and had a positive message. The song went on to win an award for receiving the most radio airplay out of every song released in Europe in 1998.

Their Uk record label had asked the band to cover 'Cruel Summer' for the 3rd album and it was chosen as the 2nd single from the album 'Flowers.' This was when the problems began with their North American record label. Clive Davis and Arista records who were releasing Ace of Base records in North America had decided the album was "Too European" in nature and had the band made extensive changes to the album.

1. Cruel Summer was decided on for the first single in North America. This proved to be a smart move. The track was top 10 in the USA & top 5 in Canada, their first hit in 4 years. The album was re-named 'Cruel Summer.' The version released across Europe was different from the American version. In France the band recorded a more acoustic based version with French boyband - Alliage.

2. Life is A Flower was too european. Clive Davis had the band re-record the track with new lyrics, changing the track into a love song. The key was also changed. The track was released as their second single but failed to get any promotion on radio stations. There was no music video filmed either and the song peaked at #76 in the US. There were no more singles released in North America from the album.

3. The album was lacking any radio friendly ballads. Clive Davis convinced 'Linn' who had not sung any lead vocals on the album, to record a beautiful ballad 'Everytime It Rains.'

4. A number of songs on the album were re-produced and mixed differently from the versions on the European album. The changes often were to give the songs a darker or more 'American' feel to them. Other songs were left off the American album completely.

So what did all this meddling mean when it came to the music? Luckily the material the band produced was amazing quality. Even the changed tracks were amazing. Although the band did not always have complete control over their material, it is a rare occasion where there were over 25 versions of tracks released in various parts of the world from one single album instead of the usual 10 - 15.

So take a minute and listen to some of the tracks below. Hear the differences between the American and the European versions and decide for yourself.






snazzyzeo said...

i love your blog! you actually spend time to write great reviews and band information. im really glad its not a "link dump" of random new material with quotes like "this is hot." its a nice change of pace from everything else out there.

snazzyzeo said...

plus we have the same taste in music, so everything you post is awesome

Troy said...

Hey Zeo!

Thanks so much! I'm just glad people like you are reading it and enjoying it!

snazzyzeo said...

are they doing anything new?

Troy said...


First Jenn has been very active in Sweden. Back in March she went on a tour of Sweden singing with some other Swedish singers like Magnus Carlsson and the original ABBA orchestra singing abba songs. You can actually find video of her on youtube.

Rumour is there should be a new album released in Spring 1998!

AcerBen said...

I will never understand why Clive Davis didn't think LIAF would be a US hit. WYNM was MORE European if anything, if European means cheesy.

Jake said...

This is a really interesting post. I love Flowers and was aware that there were some odd releases around this time. Everytime it Rains was really big quite late on. My copy of Flowers is the German Polydor version. Still the best! Love the Life is a Flower video. Always Have, Always Will!