Europe – Beyond The Final Countdown

Some bands are forever remembered by the masses and media (for good or bad), for 1 track. For Europe – 1986’s “The Final Countdown” is that song! A huge selling 80s pop-rock anthem with an unforgettable keyboard riff that played throughout the song, a catchy chorus, a fast guitar solo, and a return to chorus that played out til the end, making for live reaction purposes. The song and a few other hits from it [the sappy ballad “Carrie”] would put the band in that 80s keyboard drenched, over the top hair-metal category. The album (Europe’s 3rd) and title track single would be Top 10 in most countries, but it was a success story there would be no repeat of on follow up albums. Guitarist John Norum, unhappy with the direction and “poodle rock” labelling, would leave the band afterwards. The band carried on with Kee Marcello [ex Easy Action] on guitar for 2 more albums [1991’s “Prisoners In Paradise” is a fine album], before the band split up. In 2003 the band reformed with Norum on guitar and the rest of their 80s line up – Joey Tempest, John Levén, Mic Michaeli and Ian Haugland, and have been putting out solid albums since 2004’s “Secret Society”. They remain a bigger draw in Europe and other parts of the world, but some regions [like North America] have a hard time getting beyond the band’s big hit and image from ’86.
Europe albums since reforming show the band’s classic rock influences, and are heavier and darker than The Final Countdown, more align with the band’s first 2 albums, but throw in a bit of blues, more hammond organ, acoustic guitar, and you get a band trying to be more in tune with 70s greats like Zeppelin, UFO, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy, and far beyond the 80s bands still out there [and not creating anything – if at all, … see that other big tour]. Actucally, check ouot 2008’s live release “Almost Unplugged”, which includes 4 covers [alongside Europe’s own fan favorites], most notably UFOs “Love To Love” and Thin Lizzy’s “Suicide” . Also worth checking out the band’s few official live releases “Live At Shepherd’s Bush, London”, and their 2013 “Live At Sweden Rock” festival performance. On tour this summer, with Foreigner [hmm] and Kansas in North America; I’d like to see Europe much more than the other 2, as they’re still producing great albums on a regular basis, and have much more to say than just a few hits.
If you’re not familiar, here’s a dozen Europe favorites since the band’s comeback [I purposely left off all the title tracks – which would add another 4 or 5 songs]….

Always The Pretenders
From 2004’s Secret Society, a brief light intro and the band comes rockin in. Gone is that 80s production, determined – like the rest of this album to put aside those hair-metal days, while still coming up with catchy rock tunes. A great video single from this album.

The Beast
one of the band’s heavier rockers in their catalogue, from Last Look At Eden.

No Stone Unturned
another great rocker from 2006.

a slightly more pop rock tune, paying tribute to the band’s musical ‘hero’ [judging from the video, I’d assume this was about Phil Lynott]. from 2009’s Start From The Dark.

2012’s Bag Of Bones is a fantastic album, produced by Kevin Shirley. As much as i liked the few before it, is a step up in more great songs and more diverse writing with plenty of rockers, more blues, and more acoustics. Aussum heavy track!

Not Supposed To Sing The Blues
Classic tune; the title says it.

Drink And A Smile
A short acoustic number from Bag Of Bones; sounding much like it was influenced by the acoustic Zeppelin classics.

Days Of Rock n Rolll
War Of Kings remains my favorite Europe album; it is the one that got me to rediscover the band; heavy, but not one dodgy track on this album. This one tells us no one is too old for rock n roll!

Nothin To Ya
Love the intros on the War Of Kings tracks, and the production [courtesy of Dave Cobb. Another memorable heavy rock tune.

California 405
A classic organ intro sets the tone before the the band comes in to this cool driving rocker. My fave track on this album.

I will take ballads like this over the likes of Carrie – anyday! dark, atmospheric, with a very almost psychedelic early 70s feel to it musically and lyrically. From Walk The Earth.

Turn To Dust
great mid tempo rock tune. Lots of different tracks on Walk The Earth, a bit of a 70s vibe throughout, love the Hammond organ on this. The animated video for this song is aussum, created by the same guys that did Deep Purple’s “The Surprising” video.

Start From The Dark – 2004
Secret Society – 2006
Last Look At Eden – 2009
Bag Of Bones – 2012
War Of Kings – 2015
Walk The Earth – 2017

KJJ, 01/’20

4 thoughts on “Europe – Beyond The Final Countdown”

  1. I really like the last two studio albums. Norum is a monster on the guitar. That one tune Wolves is wild. They went outside the box on that tune. Getting Dave Cobb to produce has been brilliant for them.
    Cool writeup.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw Europe for the first time in 1988, when they opened for Def Leppard at Red Rocks Amphitheater-Morrison Colorado! Both bands were amazing!
    Hoping to see them again in July, in Colorado💗💗!

    Liked by 1 person

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