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writer...performer...sometime pop-up cinema host.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A-Ha; the greatest 80's band of the...eighties

During the last few months I have been delving back into my past, emotionally and musically. Emotionally because there are a few demons that need sorting out; musically, probably because there isn't a lot of music at the moment that hits the right buttons for me. Trawling through my collection of CD's I stumbled across some much-loved gems that I have not listened to for years. Bands like Duran Duran; Pet Shop Boys; Pulp; even early Robbie Williams tracks. One band that has really inspired me again has been those eighties pop gods A-HA.
I recently found their greatest hits album and was amazed at the lost brilliance of their tracks. Beautiful songs like Manhattan Skyline or the crowd-pleasing (probably franchise pleasing more) The Living Daylights, theme to the first Timothy Dalton Bond movie of 1987. But one track has stuck out and is usually the first on my list when I spend my mornings listening to my MP3 to get me going again: I've Been Losing You.
What a monster of a track. This has hard, earthy drum-beats, a drama unlike most pop songs of the time and lyrics that are so poetic and moving. This is a song about slipping away into the subconscious and of depression. To me this echoes exactly those dark, demon-driven days when you turn on everything that is around you. Lines like "now in the mirror stands half a man I thought no one could break", or "it wasn't the rain that made a difference and I could have sworn it wasn't me". This edgy, biting tune grabs you from the start and takes you on a journey of one human being pushing away any love that comes their way, trying so hard to understand who is the one doing the pushing.

It's a barn-stormer, by no means a crowd-pleaser. This was taken from A-HA's 1986 album Scoundrel Days and this particular single reached number 8 in the British charts. I remember seeing it performed on Top of the Pops all those years ago and much as most men won't admit to liking Take That, it was hard to be a fan of A-HA without having your mates taking the p*£s out of you. But I was there, standing in my bedroom, having the vinyl blasting out through my speakers and miming along to Morten Harket's brilliant rendition of Pal Waaktaar's stunning and haunting lyrics.
It came as a surprise to me to learn, very recently, in an interview for NME (or something I can't remember) that Jarvis Cocker is a fan of this tune too and all of a sudden I don't feel quite so detached from the world as I rock to the beat while waiting for my train.

A-HA were inspirational and huge during those heady 80's days. Of all the wonderful songs they produced I expect they are still remembered though for THAT video. Filmed for their single Take On Me, it offered something different to the changing world of band exposure.

Official Site: http://a-ha.com/

Take On Me, one of the first to integrate live-action with animation to stunning effect. Released 1985.

1 comment:

Dani said...

A-Ha is still a guilty pleasure of mine, the haunting intro of "The sun always shines on T.v." always flushes in memories/fantasies of a cult movie never made. Indeed "I've been losing you" is another one high up on my replay button. Ive always found fascination with scandinavian music, from Abba through to Nightwish, who i rave about endlessly but yes, A-ha, they were the quintessential 80's pop band - perfect and no-selling out.