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Articles Home » 2011 Articles » Longplayer - 2011 Longplayer
 
Longplayer - 2011 Longplayer



ARTIST: Longplayer
ALBUM: Longplayer
LABEL: Space Place Records
SERIAL: HR001
YEAR: 2011

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Ulf Holmberg - electric & acoustic guitars, bass, drums, mellotron, synth strings, keyboards * GeDe Hjertstedt - lead & backing vocals, piano, organ, synth strings, keyboards * Jon Sundberg - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Space Place Café * 02 Won't Let You Down * 03 The Messenger * 04 Silicone Sue * 05 The Explorer * 06 Dance With A Gentleman * 07 The Morning News * 08 The Traveller * 09 Cool Cat Walk * 10 Wild Wild Woman * 11 The Power * 12 Red Wall Of Sound

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.longplayer.se


Background
Sweden's contribution to pop music is immeasurable. ABBA's world-wide domination is still astounding considering they haven't released a new studio album in over thirty years and likely never will. An amazing run and from the early days of The Hep Stars (also ABBA related), Tages (later known as Blond) to the 80s phenomenon known as Roxette and certainly not forgetting the 90s power pop explosion spear-headed by Beagle and The Merrymakers; Svenska pop has left an indelible mark on music history. Against this backdrop a new breed of Swedish bands has come to light borrowing from the art rock sounds of the 1970's and following in the footsteps of the much-missed A.C.T. Three CD's from Moon Safari have been a stunning revelation of Beatles/Klaatu influenced progressive pop while the State Cows related Dynamo Bliss and their '21st Century Junk' release from last year borrows liberally from 10cc and Be Bop Deluxe in a modern context, all of which brings us to Longplayer and a CD that will no doubt appear on many year-end lists including my own.


The Songs
Like clockwork every couple months a new disc hits the power pop blogs with inevitable and tiring comparisons to the Electric Light Orchestra. It's not that Jeff Lynne and company are not deserving of such adulation or good-intentioned plagiarism now and then, but in the end very few of these releases actually capture the spirit and sound of ELO from start to finish and more often than not the name-dropping is nothing but a miss-leading marketing tool. Longplayer is the real deal with a solid collection of songs that while borrowing from their obvious idols, stand on their own as great pop. Yes, the English vocals of GeDe Hjertstedt are more Gerry Rafferty than Lynne but the playing, production and presentation is nothing short of splendid. Right off the mark Longplayer hit all the right buttons with the brisk instrumental 'Space Place Café' while 'Won't Let You Down' takes on the Traveling Wilburys sound successfully here and on later cuts 'The Explorer' and 'Wild Wild Woman'. This is one heck of a collection with plenty of surprises including the opening notes on 'The Messenger' which sound strangely like Sailor's classic 'Glass Of Champagne' while tapping further into ELO's 1981 masterpiece 'Time' with the humorous 'Silicone Sue'. Loaded for bare with wedges of synthy strings and an arsenal of keys, the baroque instrumental 'Dance With A Gentleman' and the dreamy 'The Traveller' are the album's highlights, the latter reminiscent of New England sans the pomp overdrive.


In Summary
A big recommendation of course and a being fan of ELO isn't necessarily a prerequisite for an enjoyable listen but it certainly helps. Longplayer's been well-received by the power pop community, even landing a choice spot at the 'International Pop Overthrow' gig earlier this year held at Liverpool's Cavern Club, but I've noticed a couple troubling signs including a recent name change to Longplayer Orchestra. I don't understand this move as it will only draw attention to their love affair with Jeff Lynne which not everyone will understand including critics who might not take them as seriously. The second is their effort to break into America which let's face it - isn't going to happen. Costly, it's a big place not to mention a public at large milking at the tit of 'American Idol' and Lady Gaga who care nothing for this style of music anymore. Much better to stay in Sweden, make great records and enjoy the ride as low-key as that might be.


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