Europe – The Final Countdown (1986)

FrontCover1Europe is a Swedish rock band formed in Upplands Väsby, Sweden in 1979,[4] by frontman Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bassist Peter Olsson, and drummer Tony Reno. They obtained a major breakthrough in Sweden in 1982 by winning the televised competition “Rock-SM” (Swedish Rock Championships): it was the first time this competition was held, and Europe became a larger success than the competition itself.

Since their formation, Europe has released eleven studio albums, three live albums, three compilations and twenty-four music videos. Europe’s current lineup comprises Tempest, Norum, bassist John Levén, keyboardist Mic Michaeli, and drummer Ian Haugland.

Europe rose to international fame in the 1980s with their third album, 1986’s The Final Countdown. Europe has sold 10 million albums worldwide. The band has had two top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (The Final Countdown and Out of This World) and three top 30 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (“The Final Countdown”, “Rock the Night” and “Carrie”, which reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100).

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Europe went on hiatus in 1992, reunited temporarily for a one-off performance in Stockholm on New Year’s Eve 1999 and announced an official reunion in 2003. Since then the band has released six albums, Start from the Dark (2004), Secret Society (2006), Last Look at Eden (2009), Bag of Bones (2012), War of Kings (2015) and Walk the Earth (2017).

Europe gained new attention in the US after being featured in a GEICO cable television commercial campaign during 2015–2016.

The band is mainly influenced by Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, UFO and Michael Schenker Group.

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The Final Countdown is the third studio album by the Swedish rock band Europe. Released on 26 May 1986 through Epic Records, the album was a huge commercial success peaking at number 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and reaching high positions in charts worldwide. It was recorded at Powerplay Studios in Zürich, Soundtrade Studios in Stockholm, Mastersound Studios in Atlanta and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The Final Countdown is the first album to feature keyboardist Mic Michaeli and drummer Ian Haugland and the last to feature guitarist John Norum until 2004’s Start from the Dark.

Five singles were released from the album: “The Final Countdown”, “Love Chaser”, “Rock the Night”, “Carrie”, and “Cherokee.” The first single was responsible for launching Europe into mainstream popularity.

“Rock the Night” and “Ninja” were the first songs written for the album, and were premiered on the band’s Wings of Tomorrow tour in 1984.”Rock the Night” was released as a single in Sweden in 1985, peaking at number 4 on the chart, and was also featured on the soundtrack EP for the Swedish film On the Loose the same year, together with the songs “On the Loose” and “Broken Dreams.” “Rock the Night” and “On the Loose” would be re-recorded for inclusion on The Final Countdown along with “Ninja”, all with slightly different lyrics.

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Due to the national success of On the Loose and “Rock the Night”, Europe went on a new tour around Sweden in 1985, with new songs “Danger on the Track”, “Love Chaser” and the power ballad “Carrie” included in the setlist and ready to be recorded for the album.[5] “Carrie” was co-written by Tempest and keyboardist Mic Michaeli during a jam session.[7] The early version of the song consisted of only keyboards and vocals, and was performed that way on the 1985 tour, but the album version would feature the whole band.[5][7]

The song “The Final Countdown” was based on an old keyboard riff that Tempest had composed as early as 1981–82, on a Korg Polysix keyboard he had borrowed from Michaeli. In 1985 bassist John Levén suggested that Tempest should write a song based on that riff. The lyrics were inspired by David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity”. The sound of the keyboard riff used in the recording was achieved by using a Yamaha TX-816 rack unit and a Roland JX-8P synthesizer. “I made a brassy sound from the JX-8P and used a factory sound from the Yamaha, and just layered them together”, Michaeli said.

“Cherokee” was the last song written for the album, being written only a week before the band went to Switzerland to start recording the album. Tempest said he had been inspired by the history of the Native Americans to write the song.

The recording of the album began in September 1985 at the Powerplay Studios in Zürich, Switzerland. At the suggestion of their record company, Epic Records, the band decided to work with the American producer Kevin Elson, who had worked with bands like Journey and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Originally the band had approached Scorpions producer Dieter Dierks and Bon Jovi producer Bruce Fairbairn to produce the album, but in the end they decided to go with Elson. Elson would also produce the band’s sixth studio album, Start from the Dark in 2004.

During the recording sessions, vocalist Joey Tempest came down with a bad allergic reaction to bread products, which delayed the recording for a while, and forced Joey to make changes to his diet, so he could complete his work on the album. The vocals for the title track were recorded at the Soundtrade Studios, Stockholm, Sweden, while the rest of the vocals were recorded at the Mastersound Studios, Atlanta and Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California.

The album was mixed in March 1986 at Fantasy Studios.[5] Guitarist John Norum was not pleased with the result, claiming that the keyboards had “buried” the rhythm guitars in the final mix. (wikipedia)

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One of the most glorious launches in history, the title track for the thrice-platinum The Final Countdown is so bombastically brilliant, such glorious garbage, that this nuclear hair assault could only spew from the vacuous ’80s. But the full-tilt follow-up “Rock the Night” rules also: “You know it ain’t easy/Running out of thrills.” “Carrie” comes off a consummate butane ballad. Meanwhile, the rest of the disc packs so much power that Swedish superheroes Europe get away with all the processed pretension. In fact, the lofty ambition of “Danger on the Track,” “Ninja,” and “Cherokee” (each as tasty as its title) combines with heated drive and hot delivery to meld The Final Countdown into a unique portrait of propulsive prog and a worthy addition to any hard rock collection.

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This is the story; this is the legend told by Teutonic guitars and predictable keyboards ringing pure and hurtling through each and every convention perfectly. The quintet’s big-boy Epic inaugural, The Final Countdown deftly combines the Valhalla victory of Europe’s heroic debut with the American poodle pomposity that devoured the band. You could live without The Final Countdown, but why? (by Doug Stone)

In other words: The perfect Power Pop Rock album from the Eighties !

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Personnel:
Ian Haugland (drums, background vocals)
John Levén (bass)
Mic Michaeli (keyboards, background vocals)
John Norum (guitar, background vocals)
Joey Tempest (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. The Final Countdown 5.05
02. Rock The Night 4.06
03. Carrie 4.31
04. Danger On The Track 3.46
05. Ninja 3.46
06. Cherokee 4.13
07. Time Has Come 3.59
08. Heart Of Stone 3.47
09. On The Loose 3.07
10. Love Chaser 3.28

All songs written by Joey Tempest
except 03.: written by Joey Tempest and Mic Michaeli.

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The official website:
Website

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