Per Gessle’s Nine Peaks of Nordic Rox – Glam rock

Nordic Rox on Sirius XM kicked off a new program on 5th October, presenting 9 of Per Gessle’s favourite songs in certain areas, eg. new wave, glam rock, singer songwriters, songs about certain topics, e.g. flowers or cars every month.

Starting the show, Sven asks Per to tell about how he started collecting records. Per tells his first record was The Kink Kontroversy by The Kinks. His brother owned it and he needed money to buy cigarettes. Nobody in the family knew about him being a smoker, except Per. Mr. G was 6-7 years old at the time, his brother was 7 years older than him and he was a fan of records. When he had money left after buying cigarettes, he bought records. Per tells he loved the album sleeve of The Kink Kontroversy, the close-up of Dave Davies on the guitar and the wonderful songs on it: Till the End of the Day, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, Milk Cow Blues. Per got really hooked. The only thing he wanted as Xmas or birthday presents was records. He remembers getting Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees, Little Man by Sonny & Cher, Day Tripper. Per says he had 100 LPs when he was 10 years old, which is amazing, especially because he is not coming from a very wealthy family. Those days you could earn some easy money by selling newspapers on Saturdays and Per started doing that really early on. The only thing he was interested in was music.

Sven says Per started writing music himself and later they also established Roxette and he has numerous hits inspired by his vast collection. Mr. G says he had many successful records, but he didn’t invent the wheel. He says he is a product of his record collection. Everyone is influenced by something or someone. The Beatles were inspired by Little Richard, Tom Petty by The Byrds. Per was inspired by the 60’s and the 70’s in particular. That’s when he was young and the music you listen to and get hooked on when you are young is going to stay with you forever. Even today when he is 61 years old, when he writes music today, most of it is still based on the 60’s and 70’s.

The first theme the guys are talking about is the glam rock era, when Per was 13-15 years old. Sven asks if there is a difference between glam rock and glitter rock. Per thinks there is no real difference. For him glam rock is when people started looking silly with lipstick on, all the guys started to dress up. Actually, girls as well, thinking of ABBA. There were many artists who were not really glam rock, but they looked like glam rock. Mr. G says they were never glam rockers. They just dressed up because it was fashion.

The first song Per picks is Killer Queen by Queen, released in 1974. Per says he is not the biggest Queen fan in the world, but he really loves this song. For him it’s part of the era when Queen were part of the glam rock scene. Freddie Mercury with feathers and platform shoes on. Sven asks how Per reacted when he heard the Killer Queen for the first time. Mr. G thinks it’s a stand out song for the time as well, because it’s so well produced. All the vocal arrangements sounded like nothing else. He didn’t hear anything like this since The Beach Boys. The whole album is really good. Sven also thinks it’s an amazing album and he likes the most when Queen is trying to play hard rock, because it doesn’t sound like Deep Purple, it sounds like nothing else. Per adds it doesn’t sound like Led Zeppelin either. It sounds like Queen.

Alice Cooper is next. Per says for him, living in the North of Europe, the only glam rock artist from the States he could think of was New York Dolls. He never liked them because they didn’t have good songs. They looked amazing though. If you check YouTube clips of them playing live, it’s just amazing to watch. He didn’t buy their first album, because when he listened to it in the record store, he didn’t like the songs. When he started thinking if there is anyone from the States who he really liked, he came up with Alice Cooper. Per’s first Alice Cooper experience was when he released the song Elected. Per bought it on a single. He thought that was a really cool song. Then he heard School’s Out. Then he thought the Billion Dollar Babies album was a masterpiece and Alice Cooper wore make-up. Mr. G picks No More Mr. Nice Guy from Billion Dollar Babies and it’s a great great song for him. Sven adds Billion Dollar Babies was Alice’s best selling album and this was basically his peak as an artist. Pat Boone made a cover of No More Mr. Nice Guy in the 90’s for his album In A Metal Mood, ironic metal versions by Pat Boone. Per didn’t know it. He laughs and says he wants to listen to that one.

Gary Glitter is next. He had many hits in England and in Sweden, e.g. Rock and Roll, I’m The Leader of the Gang (I Am), Hello, Hello, I’m Back Again. The song Per picks is Do You Wanna Touch Me from 1973. What he really liked about Gary Glitter is the sound of the record. He wrote all the songs together with Mike Leander and they had a distinctive sound with all the echoes and drum sounds, it just knocked Per out when he was a kid and it still does. Americans know it more thanks to the Joan Jett version. She recorded it as a cover on her first album, Bad Reputation in the 80’s. Per thinks that’s a great cover as well.

Sven asks Per if he ever put on make-up in the 70’s during the glam rock era. Per says he didn’t, but he had platform shoes. He remembers he went to a David Bowie concert in Gothenburg in 1976. There were 8-9000 people in the audience and most of the fans came dressed up as Ziggy Stardust and David Bowie of course came out on stage looking like Frank Sinatra. Per says they’ve always been a little bit late in Sweden. Haha.

Sven tells before the Ramones were formed, the band members were into glitter rock. Joey had that jumpsuit and knee-high platform boots and with that he became well over 2 metres long and had a wobbly walk in those boots. He also had feathers. Per says: pictures please!

Next is a British band, Slade formed in Wolverhampton in the 60’s. Per says they were never really a glam rock band, but they became a glam rock band. They were extremely big in Sweden, most of their singles were No. 1 there. Per was never a huge fan, but he loves the song he picks, Cum On Feel the Noize. Sven tends to like the band Sweet more, but he likes Slade’s Chrsitmas single, Merry Xmas Everybody. Per always hated that one.

Lou Reed is next. He made an album, Transformer produced by David Bowie, which Per thinks is Lou Reed’s best album. It came out during the glam rock era, so he put the make-up on. He used David Bowie’s band, Mick Ronson played the guitar. Per picks Vicious. He could have picked Walk on the Wild Side as well. Bowie was in a helpful mode in 1972. He helped out Iggy Pop, Mott the Hoople and also revitalized Lou Reed. He was very busy back in the days. The idea to Vicious came from Andy Warhol. He asked Lou Reed ”Why don’t you write a song called ”Vicious”?” Lou Reed asked what kind of vicious. Andy replied ”Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.” And he just wrote it down. Per says it’s a brilliant line. Later Lou Reed went on to a harder rock sound, which Sven thinks is absolutely phenomenal. The version of Vicious on Lou Reed Live is just amazing. Per thinks he didn’t buy Transformer upon its release, but a couple of years later. He remembers buying Rock ’n’ Roll Animal. That was the first time Mr. G heard The Velvet Underground. There were glam rock magazines in Sweden and Lou Reed was all over the place. Because he had make-up on. He was a dangerous guy.

You can’t make a glam rock list without David Bowie. Per picks Starman from the Ziggy Stardust album, which Per considers to be one of the best albums ever made. It’s very much part of Per’s life. That era of David Bowie’s career is just amazing: Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs. 5 amazing albums for Per in the glam rock period. The guys agree that they love many more albums from Bowie, they should dedicate a program for him. He is one of the biggest artists ever in rock and pop and when you look back at him when he was on top of his game, it’s a very long period of time, from 1971 to 1983. Then he became uninteresting for Per, after his Let’s Dance album he just disappeared. Sven adds he thinks it was uninteresting for David as well. Sven tells they often laugh at the Tom Petty line ”Their A&R man said “I don’t hear a single””, but Per also heard this sentence during his career and actually, every recording artist has heard it. Bowie also heard it when they were recording the Ziggy Stardust album. Dennis Katz told him the album didn’t contain a single. Bowie wrote Starman after this comment, which replaced Round and Round (a cover of Chuck Berry’s Around and Around) on the track listing at the last minute. Per thinks that was a good choice. He likes Round and Round because of Mick Ronson’s amazing guitar sound, but Starman is a wonderful song. Sven says sometimes these record company guys are right. Per immediately reacts: ”No!”. And they both laugh. Mr. G says he read that David Bowie was very much into this ”Somewhere over the rainbow” (and he sings it), so he used that ”There’s a starman waiting in the sky” (and he sings it) jump in the melody. Mr. G thinks it’s really cool, he didn’t know it at the time. Sven is wondering if that was a conscious thing. Per thinks Bowie tried to find a way of using that trick in the melody, which isn’t very easy to do. Per also tells that in the early 70’s it was almost impossible to find these artists on television. There was TV once a week, 30 minutes pop music. The first time he saw David Bowie moving around was just amazing.

One of the best glam rock acts ever is T. Rex. They had many single hits in England and in Sweden as well. Not that many in the States though. Sven tells they had only one single in the US, Get It On in disguise. It was released under the title Bang a Gong (Get It On). They were big in Europe, but in Sweden they were like gods. They had great songs: Jeepster, 20th Century Boy, Telegram Sam. They came from the 60’s hippie thing with acoustic sets. There was Marc Bolan on guitar and Mickey Finn on congas. Sven says: ”What can go wrong?” Per says: ”What conga wrong?” Haha. Per picks Metal Guru. He loves it and thinks it’s a great track. Tony Visconti produced it. Using the strings and the girls putting octave voices on Marc Bolan’s low voice is great. It’s got this magic sound to it. All those T. Rex recordings have an alternative touch, but still sound commercial. It sounds like hit records in the 70’s. They broke through with the song Ride a White Swan, moving from Tyrannosaurus Rex to T. Rex. Sven adds maybe Marc Bolan’s range of artistry or his bag of tricks was a bit more limited than Bowie’s, but for a while he was unstoppable. Per tells he also looked amazing.

No. 2 on the list is Sweet. Per says they didn’t have a big career in the US. They had a big song, Love Is Like Oxygen later on in their career, but in the early 70’s they were unstoppable in England and in Sweden. Per remembers he bought all their singles, Poppa Joe, Wig-Wam Bam, written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. Producer was Phil Wainman. Then came The Ballroom Blitz and it was like the song of the year. Everyone loved it with the introduction of the band in the intro. The sound of this single was amazing. They wanted to become a little harder and toughened their sound. Sven says they wanted to upgrade their fanbase from 12 to 14 year-olds. Per says he knows the feeling. Haha. Per tells Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman wrote many songs for Smokie, Suzi Quatro, Mud. Mike Chapman also became a great producer for e.g. Blondie and The Knack. There was something in every song that stood out of it. A gimmick or something in the title or in the sound. Sweet sounded like Sweet, Mud sounded like Mud, Smokie sounded like Smokie. There were distinctive differences between all the bands and they had very simple, but very catchy songs. Per thinks The Ballroom Blitz is a strange song with this drum thing going on in the verses and sounds different to everything else. Great singers, great band, great drummer, Mick Tucker.

No. 1 is All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople, written by David Bowie. This is a magic song to Per. Bowie wrote this song for the band when they were splitting up. He suggested Suffragette City, which both Per and Sven think would have sounded great by Mott the Hoople, but they didn’t like it, so Bowie gave them All the Young Dudes. He is singing backing vocals on it. Mott the Hoople was very much Ian Hunter’s songwriting, but then came Bowie and presented them with this song. Per thinks All the Young Dudes is one of the best songs he knows. The band recorded 4 albums that went nowhere and they were touring forever. Then suddenly they became a glam rock band with high heel shoes and one of the biggest bands in England. Everything was a success after Bowie came and spread his gold dust. However, Sven tells that they were very close to breaking up after the All the Young Dudes album. Their Ballad of Mott the Hoople (26th March 1972, Zürich) from the Mott album sounds like a break-up song. Mick Ralph left the band and formed Bad Company with Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell.

Per’s Top 9 glam rock songs:

9. Queen – Killer Queen
8. Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy
7. Gary Glitter – Do You Wanna Touch Me
6. Slade – Cum On Feel the Noize
5. Lou Reed – Vicious
4. David Bowie – Starman
3. T. Rex – Metal Guru
2. Sweet – The Ballroom Blitz
1. Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes

Thanks for the technical support, János Tóth.

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about money

Last Saturday, in the last episode of this season’s Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about money. Sven asks the 1 million SEK question if there is a connection between money and happiness. The guys can’t tell, but Per says money is nice and happiness is nice too, so it’s a good combo. Sven adds, especially if they exist at the same time.

Per’s Top 9 songs about money

9. The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money
8. Pink Floyd – Money
7. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Rich Girl
6. Steve Miller Band – Take The Money And Run
5. Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)
4. The Flying Lizards – Money
3. The Sonics – Money
2. Madonna – Material Girl
1. The Beatles – Taxman

Before they get down to the No. 9 track, Mr. G says it wasn’t too easy to put together a list of 9, because there are so many songs about money, especially in modern music, in the hip hop world. He picked a nice funk song, however, he knows Sven is not really interested in funk music. Per can’t say he is a fan of funk either, but he likes e.g. David Bowie’s Fame, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone from The Temptations. He chose a song from 1974, For The Love Of Money from The O’Jays, from their Ship Ahoy album. It’s typical Philadelphia soul. There are a lot of cool sound effects in it and it has an awesome intro. Sven says we are back in a disco somewhere in the spring of 1974 and while Per is on the dancefloor, Sven goes and buys… Here he can’t finish what he wants to say, because Per jokes he wasn’t let in. They are laughing.

Next on the list is Money from Pink Floyd from 1973. It was quite a big hit single. It has an unusual 7/4 time signature. Per says he liked The Dark Side of the Moon album and he thinks Pink Floyd was an exciting band back then. The band released their first singles in 1967 and See Emily Play, written by Syd Barrett, was one of Mr. G’s favourites. David Bowie also covered it for his Pin Ups album and then it became even better. Per says his brother had Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma double LP that included live recordings, e.g. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. Sven says they had Pink Floyd’s next album, Atom Heart Mother which had a cow on the cover. The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the best selling albums worldwide. After TDSOTM, Per wasn’t really interested in Pink Floyd. Sven asks Mr. G what Money means to him and Per says he has an idiotic memory of the song. They had a class party where he was the DJ and the first song he played was Money. He realized that the 7/4 time signature was not the best for dancing. Sven says he has a similar memory from a New Year’s Eve party where he played Speed King from Deep Purple. So Money wasn’t a dancefloor hit, but it became a big radio hit. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Alan Parsons was the engineer.

Next track is Rich Girl from Daryl Hall & John Oates. Per always liked Hall & Oates’ singles, e.g. Maneater, Out of Touch. Rich Girl he also likes, but he doesn’t know much about the duo. Sven says he had their LP that came out on 1976, Bigger Than Both of Us, but he also rather listened to their singles instead of their albums. They had six US No. 1 hits and Rich Girl was their first No. 1. Per thinks it’s an awesome song. Many interpreted it as being about the Patty Hearst scandal that happened at the same time. The timing was probably great for this song. Sven says songwriter Daryl Hall had a TV program on which he met artists and discussed their songs. Per says he saw the program when the guys from the band Cheap Trick were Daryl’s guests in his home studio. It can be found on YouTube.

When Per picked the next song, he thought Sven would be happy, because he loves this band. It’s the Steve Miller Band and the song is Take The Money And Run. Mr. G thinks Steve Miller’s singles are awesome, e.g. The Joker, Jet Airliner, Rock’n Me, Abracadabra. Sven says besides these he likes Steve Miller’s old stuff from 1969-1971. Pop with Texas blues tradition, so even if he plays blues, there is a feeling of pop in Miller’s music. Sven thinks there is a nice guitar swing in TTMAR. Per thinks it’s actually good music to be listened to in the car. After the song is played, Sven tells PG was clapping while they were listening to it.

Now the guys are travelling to London. Pet Shop Boys is next with Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money). Sven remembers that he was in Los Angeles in the spring of 1986 and all the radio channels played West End Girls. Per thinks WEG is still awesome with the rapping in the verse. Mr. G always liked Pet Shop Boys, they are a big singles band for him. He likes their synth-pop and Neil Tennant’s smart lyrics. Per thinks Neil is a fantastic lyricist. He read his book that includes his texts and they are great even without music. The song Per picked for this list exists in different versions, but he chose the one that appeared on PSB’s debut album Please. Mr. G thinks it’s a very typical song of the time and when you hear Pet Shop Boys, it makes you happy.

No. 4 on the list is Money from The Flying Lizards. It’s a cover version of Barrett Strong’s Money, written by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. Per bought it as a single. The Flying Lizards’ new wave version was a hit in 1979. Sven adds even The Beatles covered this song for their album on which they released other Motown covers too (Please Mr. Postman, You Really Got a Hold on Me among them). If Barrett Strong was a co-writer of the song is a neverending story, but what is sure is that he wrote several Motown hits, the lyrics of them. E.g. I Heard It Through the Grapevine, War (by Edwin Starr), I Can’t Get Next to You (by The Temptations). Per adds that War was written for The Temptations and it turned out for him from the musical based on The Temptations’ music, but in the end it was released as a single by Edwin Starr and it became No. 1. The guys are then talking a bit about decisions in the music business and mention Don’t You (Forget About Me) which was declined by Bryan Ferry, but became a hit by Simple Minds.

Per and Sven are talking about Robert Fripp who was member of The Flying Lizards, but is mostly known for being the member of King Crimson. He is Per’s favourite guitar player. He was involved in David Bowie’s career too.

The Sonics’ Money is No. 3 from 1965. It is also a cover of Barrett Strong’s Money, a garage rock version of it. The singer is Gerry Roslie who also plays organ. Why Per picked the same song from 2 different artists is because these are totally differently interpreted versions. Sven likes the drum sound in it. They used just one mic over the drums and even Kurt Cobain was amazed by that and thought that’s the best drum sound he had ever heard.

No. 2 is Madonna’s Material Girl from 1984. Per says she is an artist one can easily have a love-hate relationship with. Mr. G is not a super fan of Madonna, but he thinks she released some incredibly good singles in the ’80s. Material Girl is a peak in her career, he thinks. Producer of the song was Nile Rodgers who produced Madonna’s Like A Virgin album. Per thinks he is a phenomenal producer, the biggest in the world in that period. He also produced David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album. From Like A Virgin, Per also likes Dress You Up. It could have been a single, he thinks. LAV is Madonna’s second studio album and it was released during the time when she appeared in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. Parallel to her, there was Cyndi Lauper on the music scene, but Madonna drove past her with this album.

No. 1 on this season’s final list is Taxman from The Beatles. Per thinks it’s fun to write a song about taxes in the pop world. The song was written by George Harrison and was released as the opening track on their Revolver album in 1966. Mr. G still thinks that’s the best album of The Beatles. It’s Paul McCartney who plays the guitar solo in the song, not George himself. It’s an ingenious solo, Sven thinks. In the lyrics, Harrison got a little help from John Lennon. Taxman protests against the higher level of progressive tax imposed in the UK by the Labour government of Harold Wilson. Both Wilson and Ted Heath (leader of the Opposition at the time) are mentioned in the chorus. Per thinks it’s a very typical song of the time. The album cover is designed by Klaus Voormann.

At the end of the program, they guys tell this is the last episode of the fourth season of Gessles nio i topp and they thank the listeners for joining them. They hope to be back again in the future.

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about flying

Last Saturday, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about flying in the new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio. Per starts the program with a tongue twister while eating a mazarin: ”Flyg, fula fluga, flyg! Och den fula flugan flög.” (Fly, ugly fly, fly! And the ugly fly flew.)

Per’s Top 9 songs about flying

9. Status Quo – Paper Plane
8. Oasis – Supersonic
7. Ike & Tina Turner – I Want To Take You Higher
6. Flamin’ Groovies – High Flyin’ Baby
5. 10cc – I’m Mandy Fly Me
4. The Byrds – Eight Miles High
3. Paul McCartney, Wings – Jet
2. Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner
1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Learning To Fly

No. 9 on the list is Paper Plane from Status Quo. Per says SQ is a fantastic band, but they hardly play them. Sven says it’s probably because they are similar to the Ramones, they are rarely played on the radio and they didn’t have a real chance to come out in the US. Per adds their music is not really radio friendly. SQ is Mats MP Persson’s favourite band and Mr. G says their first albums in the ’70s (Hello!, Quo, Piledriver) were great. Paper Plane was the first single released from Piledriver in 1972. Sven tells this is from the beginning of SQ’s 2nd chapter. They were formed in 1967, but they went from moderate pop psychedelia to general rock. Per says they had a classic shuffle, a typical beat in their songs and he also demonstrates it. Sven says it’s a mix of pop and blues, but the feeling is more pop. Per adds Rain and Caroline, they could also be Ramones songs. Sven tells they are actually more related than one would think. Pure pop melody. Status Quo were very successful in the UK, many of their tracks charted, but none of their songs hit the US charts.

Next on the list is Supersonic from Oasis. Per always liked this song. He mentions there was a fight between Oasis and Blur in the mid of the ’90s. Oasis had fantastic songs on their debut album. Sven agrees that their first two albums were very good, there was Liam’s great attitude, then something changed. Supersonic was their debut single in 1994. It was recorded in Liverpool, however, Oasis was from Manchester. The song was the result of a jam session and it was never remixed. Noel actually wrote it in the studio while the others were out for a break to eat Chinese food. Sven jokes and asks whether writing the song went so fast or the guys were away for too long at the Chinese restaurant. Per says they should ask Siri [a digital assistant for Apple devices]. They are laughing. The guys are talking a bit about the deteriorating relationship of Noel and Liam Gallagher before they play the Supersonic.

Next one is an old favourite of Per’s, I Want To Take You Higher from Ike & Tina Turner. Originally it was a Sly & the Family Stone B-side released in 1969. They also played it in the Woodstock movie. Sly & the Family Stone played unorganized, messy music and they had too long songs according to the guys. Ike & Tina Turner’s version of I Want To Take You Higher released in 1970 is more structured.

High Flyin’ Baby from Flamin’ Groovies is next. They are probably one of the most underrated bands in rock history according to Per. Sven agrees. Their best album was Teenage Head and it also had a terribly cool cover. Even Mick Jagger loved this album.  Sticky Fingers from The Rolling Stones was released a month later in 1971 and Jagger thought Teenage Head turned out to be better. Per thinks Sticky Fingers is The Roling Stones’ best album. Teenage Head was not as widely spread as it would have deserved. The genre, Americana is not used as a term since so long ago, but actually this music is a mix of country, blues, rhythm and blues, pop and rock ’n’ roll. High Flyin’ Baby is the opening song on Teenage Head.

I’m Mandy Fly Me from 10cc is No. 5. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme from the band are still alive and active. The song is from their How Dare You! album released in 1976, same year as Bowie’s Station to Station came out. There were 4 individualists in the band who made a collage of their ideas. They had 2 songwriter teams of 2-2 band members. According to Per, I’m Mandy Fly Me has a little The Beach Boys sound to it. It was the second single from How Dare You! Sven says the first single, Art for Art’s Sake is more his cup of tea. Per thinks it has brilliant 10cc lyrics: ”Art for art’s sake / Money for God’s sake”. Graham Gouldman is a fantastic songwriter, he already wrote so many great hits in the ’60s when he was very young. E.g. Bus Stop for The Hollies or Pamela, Pamela. After the song is played, Per jokes and says Sven can remove his hands from his ears referring to the fact that Sven doesn’t like 10cc. Haha.

Per picks a song that Sven likes too, Eight Miles High from The Byrds. The Byrds were flying to their England tour in 1965 and the idea came – according to the legend – when they landed at Heathrow. It’s a good story at least. The band did a phenomenal recording of this psychedelic pop song and they released it in the spring of 1966. Because of perceived drug connotations, the song was banned on many radio stations. Paranoia, Per says. He thinks The Byrds’ sound is still unique. They inspired many bands, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers among others. In EMH those Rickenbackers and that glittery soundscape are incredibly attractive. The Byrds’ unique sound is given by the great combination of bass, drums, guitar and even a twelve-string guitar which is special. But there is something more in there. Chris Hillman’s bass and Crosby’s guitar, as well as the vocal harmonies are phenomenal. The song was written by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn and David Crosby. It’s timeless quality pop.

No. 3 on the list is Jet from Paul McCartney & Wings. Paul McCartney likes to write songs about his dogs, e.g. Martha My Dear. He had a labrador called Jet and that’s where the title comes from. The song was released on his Band on the Run album in 1973. The album was recorded in Nigeria, but Jet was recorded at Abbey Road, London. Per had Jet as a single and he thinks McCartney was wonderfully playful at the time. BOTR is one of the best solo albums a Beatle ever did, however, Per’s favourite McCartney solo album is Ram. Sven’s favourite McCartney record is his first solo album. He thinks the more instruments McCartney plays on a song it makes it more simple. Per say he is multitalented, he can play everything and in his own way. Very original. Mr. G thinks Paul is a fantastic drummer. He plays the drums e.g. in Back in the U.S.S.R. and The Ballad of John and Yoko. Sven asks Per how good he is as a drummer. Per says he is pretty lousy. Sven says drum is one thing, guitar is another. Per says he is happy that he can distinguish them from each other. Haha. Sven asks if he can distinguish different guitars, whether it’s a Fender or a Gibson. Per says there is a typical sound of Gibson Les Paul and there is a typical Rickenbacker sound or a typical Fender Telecaster.

No. 2 is Jet Airliner from the Steve Miller Band. Steve Miller is a common favourite of Sven and Per. He used Fender Stratocaster and Sven thought he used that on this song too, but it turned out he recorded it with an Ibanez. Mr. G says he could have picked Fly Like an Eagle as well. Sven likes that song too, but he thinks Jet Airliner is an unbeatable pop song. Per also thinks it’s really catchy. Sven always thought it was written by Steve Miller, but it is Paul Pena’s song. In 1973 Pena recorded an album which was produced by a former member of the Steve Miller Band who played the unreleased album to Steve Miller. He became hooked on Jet Airliner and recorded his own version in 1977. It was perfect for American radios. Sven mentions that Pena was blind and that his primary income became the royalties from this single. Talking about Steve Miller, Per says for him he was a singles artist. He had his own sound and he was kind of a prodigy. Mr. G bought his singles Rock’n Me, The Joker. Abracadabra was a big hit too. He also mentions that his brother had an album, Endless Boogie by John Lee Hooker and a very young Steve Miller was playing the guitar on it.

No. 1 is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Learning To Fly. Per thinks it’s a fantastic song with 4 chords that go round and round in a nevernding loop. The Heartbreakers took a new direction when Jeff Lynne started producing them. The cooperation started with the album Full Moon Fever that became Tom Petty’s big commercial break-through. They wrote a lot of songs together. Learning to Fly is from the album Into the Great Wide Open which includes many great songs. Per likes Jeff Lynne as a pop craftsman. He likes his productions, being it for his own band or Bryan Adams. The Traveling Wilburys sound more like Jeff Lynne than Tom Petty, Mr. G thinks. Learning To Fly is very simple, it has a damn strong text. When Tom Petty passed away, there was a clip of Bob Dylan on YouTube where he played a very touching version of Learning To Fly live on piano.

PG on a helicopter in 2013. Pic is taken from Roxette’s Facebook page

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about cities

Last Saturday, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about cities in the new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio. At the beginning of the podcast Sven mentions that Per is associated with Halmstad that belongs to pop culture in a way. Per agrees and says there are different sounds associated with different cities. There is certainly a DNA even via laptops that shows where one comes from even in this digital world. Sven asks what the top of mind cities are to Per in pop culture. He says Liverpool for The Beatles of course, but there is also a typical Los Angeles sound, Chicago sound, Miami sound, New York sound. Also London sound. Sound of Stockholm bands at the end of the ’70s. According to Per, Halmstad was Sweden’s Liverpool in 1980-81. There were 130 bands in Halmstad in the ’80s, which is not bad given the population was 80,000. Per says there are bands that are named after cities, e.g. Boston, Kansas, but he picked songs that have a city or a district in the song title.

Per’s Top 9 songs about cities

9. Moon Martin – Hot Nite in Dallas
8. Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle
7. Bobby Bare – That’s How I Got to Memphis
6. Mott the Hoople – All the Way from Memphis
5. The Chainsmokers – Paris
4. Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits
3. Katrina and the Waves – Going Down to Liverpool
2. Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)
1. Linnea Henriksson – Halmstad

No. 9 on the list is Moon Martin with Hot Nite in Dallas from 1978. Sven says Moon Martin is a common favourite of Per and him. He tells the singer is not super famous and Per tells he bumped into MM’s music in the beginning of the ’80s. PG saw him on Måndagsbörsen and he was also at the same record label as Gyllene Tider, EMI. Per says his first 2-3 albums were awesome. He was called ”Moon” because he used the word moon so many times in his lyrics. His real name was John Martin. He had a very special, expressive voice, the guys say and he was a talented songwriter. Moon Martin wrote e.g. Bad Case of Loving You that became a hit in Robert Palmer’s interpretation, Cadillac Walk and Rolene for Mink DeVille. Hot Nite in Dallas is from his first album, the first song on it. He passed away not too long ago. Producer of his first album was Craig Leon who also produced the Ramones’ first album. One can hear a little scaled-down Ramones sound on Moon Martin’s album. Per says it’s very simple, but sounds very good. He thinks American recordings sounded better than Swedish recordings at the time.

Next on the list is Harlem Shuffle from Bob & Earl from 1963. It wasn’t the Bob & Earl version of the song Sven and Per heard first, but The Rolling Stones’ who did a cover of it many years later. It wasn’t a big hit in 1963, but Sven says it has a great sound. Per says George Harrison called it his favourite song of all time. In 1969 it was reissued after the record label being bought by another one and then it became a big hit in the UK. Then the Rolling Stones covered it in 1986. The guys talk about the mid ’80s, that it was a dark period for The Rolling Stones, but also for Tom Petty. Sven says there was a kind of climate change in pop music back then.

That’s How I Got to Memphis from Bobby Bare is next. There is a typical Memphis sound too, Per says, referring to the beginning of the podcast. This song he picked is not a very famous one, if someone is not a country fan of course. It’s written by Tom T. Hall and is also known as How I Got to Memphis. Per chose the original version of it from 1970. It has a lovely, classic country style and a storytelling text that makes it special. The ’70s was a wonderful era for country. Sven says his favourite quote is from Tom Petty when he produced Johnny Cash in the ’90s and said they should make a classic country album, because ”I think most country today sounds like bad rock with a fiddle”. Bobby Bare sounds like classic Nashville country. Per agrees and tells modern country for him sounds like ’70s and ’80s arena rock, if you are listening to Keith Urban for example. It doesn’t sound like Kris Kristofferson or George Jones. Bobby Bare tried to break through with his songwriting in the ’50s. He got a record contract from guitarist Chet Atkins at RCA and in 1963 Detroit City was his break-through song. Gunnar Wiklund covered it in Swedish, Nu reser jag hem.

Staying in Memphis, the guys start talking about Memphis, Tennessee from Johnny Rivers. It’s a 1964 cover of Chuck Berry’s original version. Per sings a little here. Sven says he bought the live album that has Memphis on it and is dreaming away that it would be awesome to have a time machine and go back to see of course The Beatles live, but also Johnny Rivers at a small club in the US. Per says it’s not a bad idea.

Still staying in Memphis, Per picked All the Way from Memphis from Mott the Hoople as No. 6. Both Per and Sven love Mott the Hoople. This song is from 1973, the middle of the glitter era. David Bowie helped them to find a new audience when he produced their album, All the Young Dudes. Per thinks it’s hard to listen to their early records, but Bowie cleaned up their sound and made it more mainstream. Their album, Mott that includes ATWFM was their best record, Per thinks. Sven agrees. The band was on a roll that year. They had another big hit, Honaloochie Boogie released on the same album. Per thinks it’s a song that is incredibly hard to listen to. He thinks all the bands that have a prominent piano in their soundscape, it takes so much space that it easily confronts with other instruments. That was the case with Mott the Hoople. Sven thinks the production of ATWFM is awesome. Per says Mick Ralphs’ guitar riff fits the song’s essence very well, the storytelling of touring life. Ian Hunter is a fantastic songwriter and storyteller, but first of all a damn good lyricist. On stage he is boring, but his solo albums with Irene Wilde or Once Bitten Twice Shy on them are damn good. Both Sven and Per have the book, Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star by Ian Hunter. They are joking that it’s probably only them two who have it in Sweden.

Mr. G says it’s hard to pick modern songs, because when he is listening to them, sometimes he thinks, shit, it sounds like Neil Young, but he was a bit better, or that sounds like David Bowie, but he did it a bit better, or it’s like Tina Tuner, but she was sharper. So it’s hard to choose new productions, mainly in pop music that the DJ culture has taken over. As No. 5, Per thought to pick a more modern song, Paris from The Chainsmokers. It’s a 3-year-old song and Per thinks it’s damn good. Sven agrees. Mr. G tells it’s new music for him, but a 19- or 20-year-old would probably say Paris is a golden oldie. Sven says when The Beatles released their compilation album in 1966, it’s title was A Collection of Beatles Oldies. That included songs that were only 3 years old. Back to Paris, Per says he really likes the sound of it. It’s open, warm, an easy listening and there is a swinging rhythm in it. It’s simply a nice pop song. According to Sven, it’s a typical modern pop song. Per adds, it’s a bit better than other modern pop hits. Sven asks Per in what way he is listening to new music. He says he is like his parents were: he picks up new music via his son. Sometimes he hears a song from Gabriel’s room and asks what that is because he thinks it’s very good. He realized that his son’s generation is constantly listening to music. Per’s generation did too, but this new generation doesn’t know what they are listening to. It comes in a flow. Per’s generation sat down with the physical album and read the inner sleeve, read the lyrics, who the technician was etc. They were waiting to listen to music. After Paris is played, Per asks Sven what he thinks about Chainsmokers. He says it was surprisingly good. Sven adds DJ pop is not so close to him.

Next one on the list is Nutbush City Limits from Ike & Tina Turner. Nutbush is a very little village in the US. Sven asks Per if he knows why Ike & Tina sang about it, but Mr. G doesn’t know. Sven informs that Tina Turner was born there and the song was written by her. Per says if you google Ike & Tina, you can find almost only cocaine addiction stuff, mainly from the ’70s. Per says this was one of their best songs and he had it as a single which he bought when it was released. It was a big hit in many countries in Europe, but not as big in the US. It’s a short and effective song. Sven tells there is an artist from Detroit, Bob Seger, who was kind of an underground rocker before he became a mainstream artist in the mid ’70s. He recorded a live album in 1975 on which the opening song was NCL, as he opened his shows with the cover of this song. Per says Tina Turner has always been an absolutely fantastic singer. Sven adds that she was also a great stage artist. She became one of the biggest artists in the world in the ’80s with Private Dancer. Sven tells Tina performed at Olympen in Lund in autumn 1983. It was in the beginning of her comeback after appr. 10 years of not being in the limelight. Her manager was Roger Davis. Per tells he never saw Tina performing live, but he was at her home. When she lived in Cologne, Marie and Per were there for dinner. Tina is married to a German guy who worked at EMI. Per tells Tina was at a Roxette concert in Germany. She was a big fan of Marie ”and hated me”, he adds. Just kidding. Sven says it must have been tough for Marie to know that Tina was her fan. Per said she also liked Tina.

No. 3 is Going Down to Liverpool. It became a hit when The Bangles covered it, but the original recording was done by Katrina and the Waves, the band that has one of the world’s most played songs, Walking on Sunshine. Both GDTL and WOS were written by Kimberley Rew and they are fantastic songs. Kimberley reminds Per a bit of Alex Chilton from The Box Tops and Big Star. In a certain period of his life he wrote fantastic songs. Same thing with Noel Gallagher, for some years anything he wrote was damn good, then it became half good. The guys have the theory that Kimberley and his band were fighting and fighting, then they got the record contract and WOS became a super hit and he got shocked. Per says people react on success in different ways. Some feel assured by it, others feel lost. The Bangles released GDTL on their debut album which was released only in Canada. Per likes the original version of the song more than The Bangles cover, because he thinks it’s rougher and Katrina Leskanich is an incredibly talented singer. Sven says he saw them at Kulturbolaget in Malmö in 1985 or 1986. They were a super tight, exemplary power pop band.

No. 2 is San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) from Scott McKenzie. Regarding San Francisco, Per could have chosen San Francisco Nights as well, from Eric Burdon and The Animals, but he picked this one, because he thinks it’s one of the best songs in the world. Per thinks it’s magical: the whole sound, Scott’s voice, the production, the melody, the chord progression. Playing it on a guitar is a delight. Sven says there is a kind of secret in the composition of this song that makes it so good. All songs that become this good have the same secret according to Per: great production, wonderful voice, wonderful expression, very nice melody, touching lyrics. For him it symbolizes the perfect summer song. There is an aura of summer and harmony in it. Per was a bit too young for the Summer of Love (1967), he was only 8 years old then, but he still associates it with summer. Sven says the timing was also perfect. It was released in May, so the whole summer was ahead. One could have the feeling that the ”summer song” expression was born with San Francisco and Scott McKenzie. It was written by John Phillips, who was the leader of The Mamas & The Papas. He was a very talented composer and producer. Scott McKenzie himself was also a very talented songwriter. He wrote e.g. What About Me for Canadian singer Anne Murray and Kokomo for The Beach Boys. John Phillips was in top shape that time. While he was writing this song, he was organizing the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Per says when Roxette ended up in the US at the end of the ’80s, they got to know Wilson Phillips. The band was at the same record label. John Phillips’ daughter was a member of them. Sven asks if John Phillips was a member of The Mamas &The Papas, why he gave the song away to Scott McKenzie and not recorded it themselves. Per thinks Scott was asked to be a member of The Mamas & The Papas, but he said no, because he was coming from another band and wanted to do a solo career. So John gave him this song then.

Sven says Per lives both in Stockholm and Halmstad and he knows one of the candidates for this list of songs about cities was No Train to Stockholm by Lee Hazelwood from his album Cowboy in Sweden. Per thinks it’s a fantastic song, but since there was another list of nine forgotten artists earlier and he picked that song as No. 1 on that list, now he chose another one. That way the No. 1 on the songs about cities list is Halmstad from Linnea Henriksson. It’s a nice song and Linnea is super talented. Per thinks it’s her best song and of course he also thinks it’s a lovely idea to write a song that has the title Halmstad. He is wondering why it wasn’t him who came up with it. The guys are laughing. Linnea was the support act on Gyllene Tider’s 2013 tour and she also joined GT for their soccer song, Bäst när det gäller.

Pic of PG in the woods is from Roxette’s Facebook page and it was taken during the recording of Linnea’s Halmstad video in May 2014

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about colors

Last Saturday, in the new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about colors. According to Per, when you are listening to music, you often associate the songs with colors. In the studio he also associates his songs with colors. Sven says he read it about John Lennon that he also talked about colors, e.g. ”I want a green sound”. Mr. G says he can understand it and adds that there are a lot of songs that have colors in their titles.

Per’s Top 9 songs about colors

9. Cyndi Lauper – True Colors
8. Billy Idol – White Wedding
7. The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
6. The Stranglers – Golden Brown
5. The Who – Behind Blue Eyes
4. Small Faces – Red Balloon
3. Visage – Fade To Grey
2. Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Green Onions
1. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl

The ninth song on the list is True Colors from Cyndi Lauper from August 1986. It’s a fantastic song written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg who were a very successful songwriter team before the ’90s. They wrote e.g. Like A Virgin for Madonna, I Drove All Night, Eternal Flame for The Bangles. Cyndi Lauper broke through 3 years before True Colors with Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Money Changes Everything is also a fun pop song of hers. True Colors was her last No. 1 on the US Billboard charts and then she disappeared. She did several come-backs though. One of her come-backs was with Kinky Boots, the musical which was a big success. True Colors was covered by Phil Collins in the ’90s. Sven says he read a story of Noel Gallagher who stated that their goal when they formed Oasis was to kick Phil Collins off the charts. Back to Cyndi, Per thinks she is a fantastic artist and has a very strong personality which can also be seen on stage.

Sven tells white is a color too and here comes one of Per’s bleached favourites. Next one is White Wedding from Billy Idol. Mr. G likes Billy Idol and thinks he released fantastic singles. He and his right hand, guitarist Steve Stevens looked out really cool. White Wedding was produced by Keith Forsey who started as a drummer. Drummers are very good producers, the guys say and mention Butch Vig as another example. White Wedding is on Billy’s first solo album from 1982, the year when GT released Sommartider. Sven thinks Sommartider was a bigger hit than White Wedding. Per agrees, but he still thinks WW is damn good. Sven has the feeling that the song was growing and growing and became a bigger hit later, not when it was first released. It came out as a single in autumn 1982, but didn’t chart on Billboard, which Sven can’t understand. Then it was released again in summer 1983 and peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. Dancing with Myself was the first single from the same album. That was a new recording of the old Generation X song. Billy Idol was in Generation X under the punk era in England, but then he moved to Los Angeles and started his solo career.

Song No. 7 is Paint It Black from The Rolling Stones from 1966. Per thinks it’s a magical song. It has a clash, being dangerous, but beautiful at the same time. The Rolling Stones was damn good in 1965-66. Per says he always thought PIB was recorded in England, but they recorded it in Los Angeles. Sven asks if Per realized that originally the song was released with the title Paint It, Black, with a comma. It disappeared later and Per thinks Mick Jagger wanted to add something intellectual. He couldn’t really find out why the comma was there. [The comma is said to be just a clerical error by Decca Records. /PP] PIB was released on the album Aftermath, which was the first LP of The Rolling Stones with songs written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. A year later came another album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which is almost unlistenable according to Mr. G. They did fantastic singles though, e.g. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow? which is phenomenal. It’s pop-psychedelia at its best. PIB is more than a classic pop song. Brian Jones plays the sitar in it and Per says The Rolling Stones was awesome when he was in the band. One could recognize it when it was Brian playing the instruments. Sven says Johnny Ramone was following Brian Jones and he even copied his hairdo.

Next is Golden Brown from The Stranglers. Their first album was Rattus Norvegicus. They came with the English new wave era in the end of the ’70s. Per doesn’t have a close relation to them, the only song he was listening to was Golden Brown from 1981. He liked the harpsichord sound in it. Their song Peaches was damn good too. Sven remembers when he was in London in 1977-78, it was there in all pubs on the jukebox. They even had a song about Sweden, Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front) written by Hugh Cornwell. In Golden Brown one can hear The Doors influence. Per doesn’t really know what the song is about. Drugs or something else. Its best position on the charts was No. 2 in the UK. Well-deserved, Per says. The song has a lovely atmosphere, great production and it’s in fine 6/8 time signature. It’s a little odd for being a song from 1981. It certainly stood out on the radio when it was released.

No. 5 is Behind Blue Eyes from 1971 from The Who, one of Sven and Per’s common favourite band. Sven says earlier they had a program with nine best songs from 1971 and this song wasn’t on that list. Per says it could have been on that one too. It’s from The Who’s 5th album and for Per that’s the best The Who album of all. There is no bad track on it. Maybe you can skip John Entwistle’s My Wife. Pete Townshend peaks here and the whole band is in top shape. Sven also thinks they were one of the biggest bands in the world in the ’70s and this album was incredibly perfect. It was kind of a follow-up album to Tommy, instead of the rock opera, Lifehouse. Behind Blue Eyes is a wonderful ballad according to Per. Sven says it’s a ballad for appr. 2 minutes and 18 seconds, but then comes Keith Moon in and the band explodes. The power chords of Pete Townshend are awesome. Mr. G says he always thought The Who’s weakest link was Roger Daltrey’s singing, but he reconsidered it and now he thinks he is a fantastic singer. When he was listening to Pete Townshend’s demos he realized how much Roger Daltrey added to the songs. Also if you are watching their early live performances, you can see he is a great frontman.

Next song is Red Balloon from Small Faces. It came out in 1969 on The Autumn Stone double LP which Per had when he was a child. It was a cover of Tim Hardin’s song. Sven says there is more hippie feeling in it, but Per says one could sense it already in Tin Soldier or Lazy Sunday. It’s a typical Small Faces song, it has a fantastic soundscape. Tim Hardin was a great songwriter. He also wrote If I Were a Carpenter and Lady Came from Baltimore. Red Balloon was not a big song for Tim. Bobby Darin covered it too. It was one of Per’s favourite songs when he grew up and his records were his best friends. Sven asks if one can say it’s a cozy song. Per says not really if you know what the lyric is about. It’s about drugs. Sven laughs and says it’s a recurring theme, but they are picking songs about colors after all.

No. 3 is Fade To Grey from Visage from 1980. It was one of the first synthpop hits. It sounded modern. When you say synthpop, today people think of the digital world we live in and how you make music on laptops. It was actually the beginning of it all. Visage was a new wave band and they became linked to the New Romantic movement. Sven says regarding the genre, one can link to Bowie’s Berlin albums or maybe even Kraftwerk. Per adds Bowie’s Scary Monsters album too, which was released the same year as Fade To Grey. Steve Strange, who was the brain behind Visage appeared in the video to Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes. Steve Strange was a scene-maker what was hip in the ’70s in London. He had a club there, called Billy’s. Midge Ure, founding member of Visage, singer-songwriter was in another band too, Ultravox and they released their album Vienna the same year as Visage released FTG. Everyone in Visage wanted to do a different project, so no wonder the band broke up. The video to FTG was directed by Godley & Creme from the band 10cc.

No. 2 is Green Onions from Booker T. & the M.G.’s. It’s one of Sven’s favourite bands, he thinks they are super cool. GO was their break-through song in 1962. They became a houseband at Stax Records in Memphis and played on hundreds of recordings. They also did instrumental covers of The Beatles’ Abbey Road songs. Sven asks Per if he knows Hammond organ. He says he stumbled over it, but he is a keyboard guy. He tells Sven ”you know, I come from a band that plays Farfisa organ.” Sven says Hammond organs already existed in the ’30s. It was invented by Laurens Hammond and it has a fantastic sound. Jazz musician Jimmy Smith was a Hammond organist. Jon Lord from Deep Purple also played it even live on stage, Billy Preston too on The Rolling Stones tours. Mr. G says they should have a separate program about songs with Hammond organ. In Green Onions Booker T. Jones also plays Hammond organ and Steve Cropper plays the guitar. Booker T. & the M.G.’s was a band that consisted of both white and black members. Their name comes from the British car brand MG, however, their record label stated that it stood for Memphis Group.

No. 1 is Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. Whenever Per hears this song he becomes happy. Van Morrison was the singer of Them before, but this was released by him as a solo artist. BEG was released in 1967. It’s one of the most played songs on American radios of all time. Once when Sven was in Liverpool with a gang of Beatles fans, a friend of him from Malmö said he knew the guitarist in Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Brian Nash. He was also from Liverpool and he was there and showed them around. It was much fun. He talked a lot about his career in bands, playing at weddings and parties, as well as in cover bands. Sven asked which song is the most popular that people ask most often to be played and he said Brown Eyed Girl. And then they all started singing it there in Liverpool. It has a magnetic effect, Per says and he thinks it’s a song of timeless quality.