New Savoy reissues: solid remastering, but shorter than the original albums

Mountains of Time inner cover with new liner notes by Kieron Tyler, record sleeve with lyrics, and CD.

The new and remastered version of Savoy’s Mountains of Time (1999) was released by Apollon Records last month, and those who pre-ordered the vinyl and CD versions from the Savoy Bandcamp page are finally starting to receive their items.

I have only had a chance to listen to the new CD version so far, but from the first moments of the opening track “Man in the Park”, the increased clarity and detail resulting from Joe Lambert’s new remastering work is striking. There’s an added punch to the drums and the layered guitars sound razor sharp. To my ears, it sounds really good throughout the album.

But those familiar with the original album will also notice that many of the songs are noticeably shorter on this reissue. That was also the case with the Lackluster Me reissue last year, which was 2 minutes 13 seconds shorter than the original 1997 release – but it’s even more obvious on Mountains of Time, which has been shortened by 3 minutes 12 seconds in total, compared to the 1999 release.

While most of the edited songs simply fade out earlier, some of them, like “Any Other Way” and “Grind You Down” have parts missing in the middle of the songs.

According to Apollon Records, editing some of the songs for the new vinyl editions is Paul’s own choice, as it was necessary in order to fit the albums on one vinyl record in best possible sound quality. The original albums were never recorded with the vinyl format in mind.

But that’s not really the issue; regardless of the need to shorten the albums for vinyl, the original full-length versions could easily have been used on the new CDs and digital versions. That has not been done. Additionally, Apollon Records has also chosen not to mention the new song edits anywhere.

They are still fantastic albums, in beautifully presented gatefold covers with new and informative liner notes. But it’s confusing when certain parts of the songs you’re so used to hearing suddenly are missing.

According to some fans, there is also an error on the actual Mountains of Time vinyl record, in the form of a “clicking” noise at the end of some songs that sounds like someone changing tracks. This is not present on the CD version.

For more detailed info about which songs have been edited, check out these comparisons between the original CDs and the reissue CDs:
Lackluster Me (1997 vs 2016)
Mountains of Time (1999 vs 2017)

‘The Voice’ to premiere on 21 August

The mentors: Yosef Wolde-Mariam, Lene Marlin, Morten Harket and Martin Danielle

The fourth season of the Norwegian version of The Voice, with Morten as one of the mentors, is now set to premiere on TV2 on 21 August.

During the first week, there will be a new episode every night, Monday through Friday, at 20:00.

There will also be a marathon-repeat of the first five episodes on Saturday 26 August, from 13:00 to 18:30.

A trailer for the show can be viewed at TV2.no.

New a-ha world tour in 2018

Photo by Just Loomis

According to a-ha manager Harald Wiik, the band will be embarking on a new world tour in June 2018 – and this time fully electric. There will be 30-40 concerts in total.

“We’ll start in England in June and continue through Europe, before going to the USA and South America”, he tells VG today.

This may perhaps indicate plans to release a new studio album sometime in the spring/early summer next year?

The first date to be announced is Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway on 6 July next year, where a-ha will headline. The concert will be held at Kirketorget (Church Square), with a capacity of 12,000 people.

“Kongsberg will be fun because that’s where Morten is from. It’s also a very cool festival. They’ve kept it going for a long time and created something very special”.

Morten actually attended the Kongsberg Jazz Festival on Wednesday this week, to check out the area and hear current a-ha backing band member Morten Qvenild perform his commissioned piece “Area 51”. The local newspaper Laagendalsposten has posted a picture of him here.

Tickets for the Kongsberg concert go on sale tomorrow through Ticketmaster.

There will probably be two additional concerts in Norway as well, but Kongsberg will be the only one in the eastern part of the country.

“Laundromat” single release

Single cover

In the midst of everything going on with a-ha at Giske recently, Drabant Music released “Laundromat” as the fourth single off Waaktaar & Zoe’s World of Trouble album on 16 June. Available on iTunes, Spotify etc.

“Laundromat easily stands out as the best track on the album”, Norwegian music site Gaffa said in its review of World of Trouble earlier this year. “It is cheeky and sexy, and takes unexpected turns in its buildup.”

As with the previous three singles, “Laundromat” is also accompanied by a music video, which was released on 20 June and directed by Jason Brandenberg and Lauren Savoy.

This is the first video Lauren has done for the Waaktaar & Zoe project, while Jason Brandenberg also directed the video for “Tearful Girl”.

Drabant Music press release

MTV Unplugged – second night

According to fans who attended the second MTV Unplugged concert at Giske on Friday, it was even better and more relaxed than the first night. It was also longer; around 2,5 hours in total. This was partly because they played several songs multiple times. “Hunting High and Low” was played three times, while “The Living Daylights” and “Take On Me” were played twice.

Ingrid Helene Håvik was the only special guest on Friday, joining a-ha on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Lissie and Ian McCulloch both had other commitments, but a-ha still played “The Killing Moon” without McCulloch. Alison Moyet also did not appear on stage, as she had already recorded her duet with the band earlier in the day – a version of “Summer Moved On”.

Apparently some of the video screens behind the band malfunctioned on Friday night, but hopefully this will be possible to fix in the editing process, when footage from both nights (plus Alison’s Moyet performance) will be combined into the final version for MTV broadcast and Blu-ray/DVD.

On Saturday a-ha were back at Giske to do a photo shoot for the album cover with Just Loomis, who has been documenting the MTV Unplugged recording. Norwegian director Thomas Robsahm and his crew have also been at Giske, shooting material for the upcoming documentary film about a-ha, which is expected to premiere in 2019.

Video: a-ha walking on stage second night     Alison Moyet and a-ha
A shot from the editing room     a-ha and Lars Horntveth
Ian McCulloch at Giske     Morten and the catering team
a-ha.com: Day 1     a-ha.com: Day 2     Bypatrioten: En a-ha opplevelse

Interview with a-ha at Giske

a-ha on stage at Giske this week.
Picture by Monica Strømdahl for Aftenposten.

Aftenposten has published a big article (subscribers only) about the MTV Unplugged concerts at Giske. Here’s a small summary.

The main focus of the story is how good this process has been for the band, and how they decided to stick together against a “common enemy” – producer Lars Horntveth.

“We have ended up joining forces in a weird way, in a battle against our “common enemy” Lars. Suddenly we’re a band again, suddenly we understand why we’re together, and we’re in agreement like never before. We’re usually always in disagreement, and that’s kinda how it’s supposed to be, but not this time. It’s almost touching”, Morten tells Aftenposten.

“Working with the three of them has been enjoyable and fun and very frustrating. I have been utterly pissed off at times, and so have they. After all, they’re not used to a stubborn bastard like me interfering like this, but it’s been very healthy. Deep down I think they like it, even if they have hated me at times”, Lars Horntveth says.

Paul, who suggested Horntveth as producer, is also very pleased with the process:

“It’s been incredibly inspiring just to sit in the same room and test out ideas on the fly. That’s when you see how much we’re capable of together. When outside elements are introduced, we immediately know when things feel right, and when things don’t work or doesn’t suit us.”

Magne joins in on the praise:

“This has been similar to how we used to work in the 80s, when we lived in the studio, in search of cool stuff. One is pushing things forward, one is holding back, while one is focused on himself. That’s been an important three-headed thing for a-ha, but this current process has given us an incredible team spirit and a creative exchange that we haven’t had in many years.”

Deciding where the MTV Unplugged recording would take place was not an easy task, a-ha manager Harald Wiik says:

“I wanted to build up a whole TV-studio near London, but the band didn’t want that. They wanted to go to the Amazon or the Brazilian city of Belém, but that proved to be too difficult. Then Magne figured we could do something “Norwegian”, inside a stave church, but it would be too small [for such a production]. Morten suggested we solve it by simply using the mannequins from the “The Sun Always Shines on TV”-video as our audience. Finally we ended up here at Giske, which is a completely unique place.”

The article also mentions plans for more a-ha concerts to be added next summer.

As for what this experience could mean for future a-ha collaborations, Paul says:

“Who knows. We’re still like planets spinning around each other, but right now we’re in the same orbit. I can’t remember the last time we had such a natural and easy way of working together.”

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