Friday, August 16, 2019

Reissues of '90s titles from a-ha set for October

During the Nineties, a-ha took a seven-year break after the 1993 release of their fifth album, Memorial Beach. Each of the members, Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy pursued their own interests and arts until they were invited to perform on the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo. a-ha performed two songs and were suddenly back and in perfect time for the millennium when they released their international hit album Minor Earth | Major Sky in 2000. They then did a well-received world tour before taking flight once again with 2002’s Lifelines.

This fall, Rhino Records plans to re-released these two millennium comeback albums in newly remastered versions with bonus tracks, unreleased demos, outtakes and some live takes. Both sets feature brand-new liner notes by Kieron Tyler.

MINOR EARTH | MAJOR SKY (DELUXE EDITION) presents the remastered original album with bonus tracks and a second CD with 16 more demos, outtakes and live tracks. LIFELINES (DELUXE EDITION) contains the remastered original album with bonus tracks and a second 19-track CD of early versions, demos and songs that did not make it to the final album. Both sets will be released on Oct. 18.

The original albums will also be reissued in remastered versions as 2-LP vinyl sets. Two unreleased demos are available now digitally: an early version of “The Sun Never Shone That Day” (from MINOR EARTH | MAJOR SKY DELUXE EDITION) and a demo of “Forever Not Yours” (from LIFELINES DELUXE EDITION).

After their performance at the Oslo Nobel Peace Prize concert, Magne and Pål began recording demos in early 1999 in New York for what might become a new album. “They weren’t super planned,” says Pål of the sessions. “It came about because we wan­ted to do it. When we connect, we make a-ha music, no matter the circumstances.” In fact, a-ha were picking up where they had left off. The album was recorded in New York’s Alabaster Room, as well as in Lydlab and Rainbow studios in Oslo, and in Boogiepark in Hamburg, Germany.Minor Earth | Major Sky was produced by German producers Boogieman and Roland Spremberg, and co-produced by a-ha and Kjetil Bjerkestrand with a defining finish by British engineer/producer Niven Garland.

On its release, Minor Earth | Major Sky went No. 1, gaining platinum success in Norway and in Germany. Gold discs came in Austria, Spain and Switzerland. The tracks “Minor Earth | Major Sky” and “Velvet” followed “Summer Moved On” as singles, the latter hitting No. 1 in Norway and top 10 in Germany.

The deluxe version of Minor Earth | Major Sky is more than just another reissue of a hit album, with demos, early versions and alternate mixes. Disc two amounts to an entirely new take on the album. There are early versions of the title track “Minor Earth | Major Sky,” “Velvet,” “Summer Moved On” and “The Sun Never Shone That Day” as well as other takes that did not make it on the final cut. Four live performances in Oslo are taken from their 2001 tour. 

Lifelines, their 2002 follow up album, saw Magne Furuholmen working with visual arts as well as music, Pål Waaktaar-Savoy’s Band Savoy had released their fourth album Reasons to Stay Indoors (2001), and Morten Harket had developed a successful solo career and had become a songwriter on his own.

"Morten had made a move to suggest we should write together,” reveals Magne. “That was the beginning of a new kind of partnership.” For Lifelines each band member contributed his personal compositions to the album, which finally was produced by six different producers including Stephen Hague, Clive Langer, Alan Winstanley and Martin Landquist. Anneli Drecker added vocals. Lifelines went Number 1 in Germany.

On the second disc of this Deluxe Edition reissue are “The Breakers,” “Sole Survivor” and “To Show It Is To Blow It.” None made it to the finished album. “The Breakers”was later re-recorded by Pål’s band Savoy. Some songs are represented as demos or early mixes and enable the fan to track the growing of an idea into a hit, for example on “Lifelines,” “Dragonfly” and others.

This fall, a-ha will take their fans into their early years with their already nearly sold-out Hunting High and Low Tour 2019. Starting in Dublin on Oct. 29, the three of them will perform their 1985 breakthrough album Hunting High And Low and some of their biggest hits in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland and Russia until November. In February 2020, they will continue to Dubai, then travel to South-Africa, Australia and Japan for the second leg of the tour.

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