Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – June 2024

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström do the final countdown of their favourite Swedish and Scandinavian songs from the ’60s in the June episode of Nordic Rox. Now they list the Top 5 songs. Per says it’s a wonderful chart, he is really proud of it.

The guys say they also have some new material just released, pop-rock sounds from the Nordic countries. But first, they go back to the Swedish ’90s and check out a band called Gyllene Tider. Per says he has heard about them. Haha. Sven explains this is Per Gessle’s Swedish power pop group. They started in the late ’70s. The song they play is from 1994, 1995 maybe. PG wrote it while touring with Roxette. He wrote it in a backstage area in Tokyo, Japan, because Gyllene Tider was supposed to release a compilation album of all their hits and they needed some new tracks. So he wrote this one for the band and when he returned from Asia, he recorded it and it became a big song for them. Sven confirms it was a massive hit and totally right with the times. It paved the way for the Gyllene Tider comeback. They had been sleeping for a couple of years. Per says GT broke up in the mid ’80s and then he started to focus on Roxette for many years. Then Gyllene Tider made a comeback in 1996, mainly because of this song and also because of the old hits that had become very popular again with the new generation growing up. Timeless pop, you know what it’s like. Sven knows exactly what it sounds like, they are going to play it now. Det är över nu, translating to „it’s over now”. Strange title for a song to open a show, Sven thinks, but there you go, that’s Nordic Rox for you. Benjamin Button, Per says. Haha.

The next song they play is The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from their debut album called Fruit. It’s one of Sven’s favourite bands from Denmark in the noughties.

Coming next is Crystal Heart by Kye Kepler. Per asks Sven if he knows anything about Mr. Kepler. Sven says he seems to be an interesting guy. His real name is Max Borglowe. He seems to be a multi-instrumentalist and a producer. He is also a 3D artist and when he is not making guitar pedals, he is busy writing songs and getting atmospheric synthesizer sounds together. Busy guy.

Coming up next another band that Per has got some association with, Eskobar. They were a special guest on Roxette’s final European tour in 2015. They were opening up for Roxette at 33, 34 shows all over Europe. Per thinks it’s a great band, he always liked them a lot. The song they play is a collaboration with Heather Nova, Someone New. Sven says it was a big hit for them. Heather Nova, interestingly enough, was born in 1967 in the Caribbean, where her parents sailed around on their own sailboat. She grew up there in the ’70s and part of the ’80s. Whereas Eskobar, they grew up in a suburb outside of Stockholm. That’s the way life goes.

Live Again by Goldielocks, a Finnish band of which the guys don’t know that much, but they like the song. They are going to see if they can research and check them out in future shows.

Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John is next. Per thinks it’s a wonderful song from 2006. Sven says it was a major hit in America. Slightly underground growing. It’s still played today, especially here on Nordic Rox. This song features whistling and Per is not a stranger to whistling. Mr. G says he was always a big whistler. He whistled on the Joyride track and some other songs. He can’t do it anymore, though, because he changed his teeth. It’s part of history, Sven says. Yeah, so Per needs sample sounds. Sven informs that when the Joyride album or single came out, the vinyl version had a sort of writing by the label saying, „was it really necessary to whistle?”. Sven asks Per to share the story behind that. Mr. G says it was one of their agents who didn’t like Per’s whistling. He said, „was it really necessary to whistle?” and they all thought that was hilarious, because that was like the big hook in that song. So when they pressed the vinyl single, they engraved „was it really necessary to whistle?” just where the label starts. You could do those things with vinyls. Sven thinks the agent would probably have said the same thing about Young Folks. Per agrees.

Now the final five songs on the ’60s list are coming. It’s been really tricky to pick out the top five spots, Per thinks, because there are so many favourites of theirs. No. 5 is Ola & The Janglers from Stockholm with a song called Alex Is The Man, from the album Limelight, written by guitar player Claes af Geijerstam in 1966, which was a great year for pop music. Sven laughs. Per explains they always have this argument about which is the best year in pop music: 1966 or 1965 or the outsider, 1971. Sven says, as most people would agree, 1965, of course. Per says, no, no, no, no, no. Haha. The discussion is ongoing.

The next band on the list is from Stockholm called the Mascots. It’s one of the guys’ favourite groups. They had a song called Words Enough To Tell You. Per thinks it’s a great band and they have great songs. A Sad Boy, is their best song according to PG. He thinks it’s really beautiful. Sven agrees. It’s a melancholy minor song tune. And it’s on an album called Your Mascots. The song is from 1965. Not a bad year for pop music, Per says. Haha. This argument will never end.

The guys stay in Stockholm for the third band, maybe the biggest of all the Swedish ’60s band, the Hep Stars. Per says the band is featuring Benny Andersson on keyboards. He was one of the founders of ABBA. He wrote this song, Sunny Girl. If you have a screen available, you can see the album cover, Sven says. Up there in the left corner is a very young Benny Andersson. Sven what better song to follow a song called A Sad Boy than a Sunny Girl, Sven laughs. Per says you can actually hear the trademarks of Benny Andersson’s songwriting here, which he sort of developed, of course, when the ABBA thing happened in the ’70s. He’s got this wonderful knack of putting a great melody together. And it’s not like what you expect all the time. He does his own thing. Sven says Benny’s keyboard gives this song the baroque pop feeling to it. Sven thinks Sunny Girl was another level of Swedish pop songwriting back then. This song is from 1966, which is a great year of pop music, Per insists. He had this as a vinyl single.

No. 2 on the list is a band that wasn’t really a pop band. Sven is pretty sure, this is their first time on American radio. They were more like an easy listening dance band. But they had a knack of writing songs that got them accepted by the pop crowd as well. Yeah, they had so many hits. Per personally never liked to listen to them, because they didn’t have long hair. That was so important in the ’60s. You wanted all the bands to look really cool and have this attitude. This band, Sven-Ingvars, didn’t have that at all, but they had their own sound. They wrote their own songs. And they truly deserved the runner-up position on this chart, PG thinks. Apart from the long hair, another thing that made them a bit suspicious among the young pop listeners was that the parents liked them as well, Sven says. Per reacts „yeah, terrible”. Sven thinks the song is very charming. Something that might get lost here, because they come from a part of Sweden called Värmland, which is very close to Norway and they have this wonderful Swedish accent. The dialect is very special and they used it a lot when they were singing as well. To their advantage. And this song is called Börja om från början, translating to „begin from the beginning” or „start from scratch”. It’s a breakup song, basically and it’s from 1965.

Before the guys reveal their No. 1, Per says they don’t really have that much in common with Sven. But one thing they have in common is that they consider Tages to be the best band of the ’60s in Sweden. Sven says they had two singers, as they mentioned that before in the last show. Tommy Blom was the major singer. He was the most good-looking, but maybe not the best singer. But he was good, Per says. They had a great bass player in Göran Lagerberg, who was a great singer as well. He also was a great composer, he was the main songwriter. Tommy Blom was singing the verse and Göran Lagerberg came in singing the chorus. Per thinks it’s brilliant. They were produced by Anders Henriksson, a great producer in the ’60s and ’70s. This 1967 song, Every Raindrop Means A Lot is one of the highlights of Swedish pop music from the ’60s, for sure. It’s a masterpiece, a well-deserved number one. The guys hope the listeners agree.

Sven and Per play some more music. The Wannadies is a band from Skellefteå, slightly in the middle north of Sweden. Per considers it the north, but he is from the south. PG says everything above Stockholm is the north. Sven agrees. Stockholm is north as well for those who come from the south. Hit is taken from an album called Bagsy Me. Sven asks „why did the ’90s end?” Every song should sound like this, he thinks. Per thinks it’s a great song, he likes it.

Doing It Again Baby by Girl In Red is next. Then Broken Promise Land by Weeping Willows is wrapping up this episode of Nordic Rox.

The guys thank the listeners for joining them and Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!