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Articles Home » 1987 Articles » Norum, John - 1987 Total Control
Norum, John - 1987 Total Control

ARTIST: Norum, John
ALBUM: Total Control
SERIAL: EK 44220
YEAR: 1987


LINEUP: John Norum - guitars, lead vocals, backing vocals * Marcel Jacob - bass * Goran Edman - lead vocals * Peter Hermansson - drums * Micke Larsson - fretless bass * Mats Lindfors - backing vocals * Max Lorentz - hammond organ

TRACK LISTING: 01 Let Me Love You * 02 Love Is Mean't To Last Forever * 03 Too Many Hearts * 04 Someone Else Here * 05 Eternal Flame * 06 Back On The Streets * 07 Blind * 08 Law Of Life * 09 We'll Do What It Takes Together * 10 In Chase Of The Wind * 11 Wild One (bonus)


'Those are my principles, and if you don't like them,.. Well, I have others'. Groucho Marks.

John's decision to leave Europe at the height of their fame is on par with Newcastle United selling Andy Cole to rivals Manchester United in the 80's or maybe Fish leaving Marillion. But if you are not happy or want to abide by your principles then sometimes it's easier to leave than stay in an unhappy partnership. Looking back John didn't let the grass grow under his feet for long, as being in control of his own destiny, which was total; he could have an album he was proud of. But on his own shoulders he had the responsibility to write, play and sing and although he got help with a couple of those key ingredients, on the whole he carried them off like it was water off a ducks back.

The Songs
Really there is enough here to anaesthetise the most ardent Europe supporter who had to make up with that string of acoustic albums by Joey Tempest when Europe took a break long after Mr Norum departed. Just listen to 'Let Me Love You' and John's message comes across loud and clear why he chose to leave the common market that had become Europe, giant screaming guitars, although not at the expense of melody as keyboards are still included with great effect. The music is like thoroughbred horses cascading down the last furlong at the Derby, unstoppable, but still graceful. 'Too Many Hearts' is a sobering ballad, very much similar to Treat and yes the connections are obvious of that of the 'Seventh Star' era of Black Sabbath. A heavier sister to 'Carrie' and I don't mean in terms of kilos and mars bars. Further still we have a full bloodied strike of scandi rock in the guise of 'Someone Else Here' which has a bullying hook in the chorus. Goran Edman appears three times on the album, two of them it is safe to say he has been dealt the most refined AOR tunes, you will find them separated, one each appearing on either side. 'Love Is Meant To Last Forever', well I have always seemed to believe this was going to be the follow up to 'The Final Countdown'; it seems to be the twin you never heard of. It is a pop classic, big chorus, beautiful melodic and powerful, just makes me want to do a Joey Tempest star jump, shockingly awesome. The same can be said for 'Back On The Streets', what a great version, the combination of Edman and Norum is not far off Vinnie Vincent and Robert Fleischman. Not going to bother to start splitting hairs, I enjoy both versions, this is probably more AOR and down to earth, but a great song is a great song. Widening my point though, I have got a vinyl bootleg of the demos of Vinnie Vincent Invasion and Warrior which of course contains this, but two other AOR treasures in the shape of 'Ain't Pretty Being Easy' and 'Gipsy In Her Eyes', never officially released to my knowledge, would be a good idea if the Invasion debut achieved a possible Rock Candy reissue, and giving these extra tracks a dust down. Back to the point in hand, the remaining contribution for Goran, being 'Eternal Flame', a fire scorched wasteland of brutal melodic riffing, harking back to the glory days of Rising Force, add a bit of TNT tenderness, it's just seconds, but it's important to the mix. Much can be said of a similar nature for that of 'Blind' which is a Blue Murder (add their self-titled to my never-ending list for reviews) style explosion, it picks the bones of Led Zeppelin and has a great sense of melody while out racers even the likes of Malmsteen in his purple patch. Things simmer down with 'Law Of Life' best associated with someone like MSG, I would say it is a bit of a plodder, but the pre-chorus is the real golden element, the way Norum voice deviates, it is worth wading through the song. A sprinkling of keyboards always helps, and here he users a shovel rather than a teaspoon to dispense the said instrument. Good. 'We'll Do What It Takes Together' even sparks of a youthful White Lion, especially in the pronunciation of the word 'Children'. It is a fine track and not given the full attention it deserves as it flows by quite quickly but with no unsettling turbulence affecting its underlining melodic gloss.

In Summary
What I have found with listening to a range of Norum albums again is that the influences are far from hidden. In fact he manages to incorporate and celebrate over the passage of his discography. You don't need to be a musical detective to prise out Gary Moore along with of course Thin Lizzy and Glenn Hughes. Although no Thin Lizzy tracks appear here, rest assured if you picked up the 'Live In Stockholm', a 4 track EP issued a couple of years after this, you will find a version of 'Don't Believe A Word', of course the slow version, nice detail. I noticed that John Norum had no writing credit on the first three Europe albums, was this a Joey Tempest closed shop, or was Norum a late developer in terms of song writing? Who knows, but it's a bit like having Demba Ba sitting on the bench, while you persist with Fernando Torres up front, misfiring (yes I am aware I had a less than successful goal to match ratio in my youth playing for Hunting Athletic or Elstow Abbey, in the local Bedford Amateur football league, but you will still have me hanging on the phone, waiting for the call on transfer deadline day) although the success of Tempest with the 'The Final Countdown' money machine (song and album) puts this generalisation into question, yes, so my argument has more than a few holes in it. However recent years has seen a loosening of the chains and a more coherent relationship has developed in Europe, maybe the politicians can take a leaf out of these guys book. My final assessment of John Norum, an individual who has provided a seamless transition from guitarist to vocalist to songwriter.

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#1 | melodiapositiva on December 24 2017 19:07:59
It could have been a real classic if john hadn´t sing and let Goran to sing every song ,i don´t like his voice ,but as a guitarrist he´s great .
#2 | dtabachn on December 24 2017 23:28:07
On the other hand, I like Norum's bluesy vocals and combined with Edman's input -'Eternal Flame' is superb-, I think it adds variety. John pays a great homage to Phil Lynott in 'Wild One'. Fantastic album.
#3 | englandashes on December 26 2017 19:29:45
Agreed, John certainly can sing, as he has shown on numerous albums since this excellent debut.
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