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Articles Home » 2012 Articles » Smaavik, Bente - 2012 1979-2011
Smaavik, Bente - 2012 1979-2011

ARTIST: Smaavik, Bente
ALBUM: 1979-2011
LABEL: Smaavik Records
YEAR: 2012
SPONSOR: Bente Smaavik


LINEUP: Bente Smaavik - vocals * Various musicians

TRACK LISTING: 01 Walk With Me * 02 Vision Of Lust * 03 Hard To Say Goodbye * 04 Vinterfolket * 05 I Natt * 06 Leaves In The Wind * 07 Hot Stuff * 08 Orn-Sangen * 09 Stripped To The Bone * 10 Am I Right * 11 Love Me Or Leave Me * 12 Sail Away * 13 Normal Life * 14 God tur til Paris * 15 Per Kleppe og Skattesnytera 'n * 16 Benny Bankboks



Norwegian singer Bente Smaavik is better known as one of the dual lead vocalists for 80's outfit Blonde On Blonde. This was the Trondheim based band that released 1989's 'Labyrinth Of Love' and 1990's 'Perfect Crime' albums which some of you might remember. The confusing thing with this band is they changed their bandname to Perfect Crime, rebadged their second album as the title of their former band name ('Blonde On Blonde') then proceeded to populate it with songs from the first album. Confused? You should be, I was never able to work it out, though I guess the guiding hand on EMI Norway had something to do it. Actually, I since found out that the reason for the differences was that 'Labyrinth Of Love' was a private release only, the band then signed to EMI Norway a year later - hence the remix of their songs. Bente has had a singing career long before and long after Blonde On Blonde as this compilation of interesting material covering nearly 25 years will testify. She even released a 3-track EP in 2004 called 'Mature' and still seems to be involved in vocal work these days. This CD could very much be considered a 'showcase CD', the material starting out from the pop/punk era of the late 70's, migrating through melodic rock eras and into more recent time-frames, though the track listing is flipped the other way, with more recent material coming first, and earlier material coming last.

The Songs
Let's work through the songs then shall we..

Jimmy Iversen 'Jimmy The Fox' (2011) - Bente sings 'Walk With Me' which appeared on former BoB bandmate Jimmy Iversen. This is quite a bluesy affair and laid back too.

Jan Holberg Project 'Sense Of Time' (2011) - 'Vision Of Lust' is a duet with Bente and Joe Lynn Turner sharing the honours. A nice AOR-ish hard rock tune and good to see on this CD.

Hammers Harem 'A Tribute to Stage Dolls' (2008) - This is a 2008 get together called 'Wings Of Steel', a tribute CD featuring Stage Dolls covers. Bente gets together with a bunch of local musos under the name Hammers Harem featuring keyboardist Hakon Hammer. They perform SD's 'Hard To Say Goodbye'.

Hammers Harem 'Vinterfolket (Winter People)' (2008) - This was the official song to the 2008 Ski Championships held in Norway. Hammer's Harem and Bente duel up on this one too. A nice melodic tune with a really good vocal provided by Bente.

Hammers Harem 'EProlog' (2007) - 'I Natt (In The Night)' is another duet with Hammers Harem, taken from the 2007 effort 'EProlog'. It's a mainly piano/vocal piece.

Bente Smaavik 'Mature [ep] (2004) - 'Leaves In The Wind' is the only track featured off this 3-track EP, and is a vocal dominated pop/rock affair which is quite powerful as it builds energy. It would've been great to see a full album's worth of material in this vein. It's pretty good actually.

Blonde On Blonde - 'Hot Stuff' single (1997) - 'Hot Stuff'? Yep, it's a cover of the Donna Summer chestnut, and is as cheesy as the original version. Considering this was released in 1997, it's probably twenty years too late, but an interesting listen nonetheless.

'Orn-Sangen (Eagle Song)' (1996) - This is a football chant song believe it or not, based around the Trondheim Eagles football side.

Perfect Crime - Blonde To Blonde (1990) - 'Stripped To The Bone' is a gritty rocker in the vein of FM's early 90's material. Also sourced from this album is the awesome 'Am I Right (Am I Wrong)'. It's a classic female fronted slice of AOR, in the style of Aina, Tone Norum. It's one of the better songs from the glory days era, and I somehow think that both albums needs a review judging by this effort. The version on this CD is the Perfect Crime one, where the piano intro reminiscent of Roxette replaces the slide guitar intro from the original CD.

Blonde On Blonde - Labyrinth Of Love (1989) - 'Love Me Or Leave Me' is a bluesy rocker which has Joal references written all over it. The Perfect Crime version is about 30 seconds longer and is a different mix, again similar to FM's early 90's material. Also from this album is 'Sail Away', which was also released in 1988 as a preceding single to the album. It has a nice mix of Stage Dolls and TNT, though definitely favouring the former rather than the latter.

Road - Breaking Out (1986) - The track 'Normal Life' is sourced from this album, I don't know too much about this band, but I do know the members moved onto Blonde On Blonde changing their style in the process. This one is a slab of heavy rock with a nod to TNT one would suggest, though not as flashy.

The Four Jets - 'God tur til Paris (Good Trip To Paris)' (1985) - 1984 to 1986 was the time when Bente was signing for long established Norwegian group Four Jets. This track is a bouncy number, quite poppy in a Neder-Pop style.

Per Kleppe & Skattesnytera'n (1979)- As a 14 yr old, Bente was old enough to be singing lead vocals for a local pop/punk outfit called Per Kleppe & Skattesnytera'n during the 1978/1979 timeframe. A couple of tunes from those days are included on this CD for posterity's sake, certainly not for audio quality as the tracks sound a bit rough, but hey, it's history we're talking about here.

In Summary
I found myself going over this CD time and again, and getting familiar with Bente's singing history along the way. One thing is for certain, the quality of her voice improved along the way, and even now as she heads into her mid 40's, that quality still remains. As Bente said in her bio, she's not in the music business for money, but for the sheer joy of singing and playing music. I think that proof is evident on this quite lovely CD. Let's see if she can still find the time to release more material into the future. For fans of Norwegian rock, you would do well to grab a copy of this just for its historical value.

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#1 | Traveller in time on May 08 2012 22:51:41
Bente is a wonderful person and she has a great voice.
I will enjoy the CD, when i get it.
Best regards to Bente, Terje and Geir music
#2 | Geir on May 12 2012 13:40:50
A good, thorough review and I'm glad to see Bente's collection featured here!

With regards to "Am I Right" and "Love Me or Leave Me" - these were re-recorded completely for the "Blonde On Blonde" album and to these ears sound both clearer and more powerful than the original versions. That said, however, the "Labyrinth..." renditions are also both very dear to me, and I'm not surprised that the band chose to redo these excellent songs for the EMI album!

Speaking of Bente, she recently appeared with Trondheim rockers Stargazer, providing live backing vocals for a full show along along with another much used singer from the area, Therese Ulvan.

Also, I'm told that Bente will do a gig in August with many of her former bandmates appearing on the night - ...sounds like that one might be good fun! :-)
#3 | gdazegod on May 12 2012 14:46:09
Thanks for that Geir. Good to see you drop a few lines on this one. Hopefully Mr Hoiland might do so too.

I was conversing with Bente earlier in the week; I had some questions about the Four Jets song on this CD: 'Gud Tur til Paris'. She tells me the song was on their 1985 'Til Alle' album, but it was interesting to me in two parts: the first being that the melody was based on Rod Stewart's 'Young Turks' song, but that it was rewritten in Norwegian by Han Rotmo. The second part being it was based around the Cold War spy saga involving Arne Treholt. I'm sure most Norwegians will be aware of that incident. Fascinating indeed! Thumbs Up
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