I cannot but start posting on this blog by talking about one of my favorite bands ever: Europe! (see also their page on wikipedia).
They released their new album, Secret Society.
I definitely like this new album, and actually more than the previous one, Start From The Dark. That album is actually very important since it represents their reunion and return after 13 long years! In fact, before Start From the Dark, their last work was Prisoners in Paradise in 1991.
I knew Europe in 1989, during the tour of Out of This World, which is still one of my favorite records ever! That tour (it was actually my second concert ever, the first one was the concert of Eighth Wonder!) was also very important for me, since after I discovered with my eyes that Open Your Heart (my favorite song of that record at that time) was played by a guitar (yes, I was quite ignorant about music at that time :-) - it was played by Joey Tempest on an acoustic guitar - I wanted to start playing guitar. My decision was also due to the fact that I was simply astonished by the way Kee Marcello played guitar in that concert! His playing was fantastic!
Since then, I started buying all the records from Europe. Of course, I already knew The Final Countdown, but basically I knew the most famous tracks. I then listened to all the tracks and all the tracks were amazing.
Then I bought Wings of Tomorrow, another very powerful yet melodic record. I discovered that Open Your Heart was already in that record (although I must admit that the version in Out of This World is much better and sounds greater). This record, more than The Final Countdown, shows what a great guitar player John Norum already was at that age!
Finally, I bought also the first record (simply called Europe). Well, I can't say I don't like it, but surely you can hear they were at the very beginning, of course a great beginning, don't get me wrong! In fact that record contains Seven Doors Hotel, what a song, and what middle part solo!
Having said this, you can imagine the sadness when I got to know in the early 90s that they stopped playing. Of course, each of them had their solo career, but those careers... well... were not very appealing, at least to me!
However, in the late 90s their reunion was in the air; a very good news was their preliminary reunion playing in Stockholm for the new year's day, in 1999-2000. They played in 6, since both John Norum and Kee Marcello played in that concert, although they performed only The Final Countdown and Rock the Night.
Then, the very good news came out few years ago, and the reunion became reality with Start From the Dark! At a first listening I didn't enjoy that record that much; it was surely different from their previous music. However, it is very powerful (surely thanks to John Norum's guitar playing, although I actually prefer Kee as a guitar player) and after the second listening I started enjoying it!
But the magic moment was on November 2004, when they came on tour in Milan for the first time after 13 years! I went there and the concert was simply magic! They played many great songs, basically songs for fans, since they did not choose only the singles, but also old songs such as Seven Door Hotel, and Wings of Tomorrow, and unreleased songs such as Yesterday's News (it was a b-side originally). It was also quite odd the fact that they only played Girl from Lebanon from Prisoners in Paradise.
The second song was Ready or Not, one of my favorite songs ever, with a great solo (originally played by Kee, but played greatly by John as well) and I got really emotional at that very moment. On that occasion they also played Heart of Stone (which was not played later in other dates of tour, at least in Italy, as far as I know).
A really magical moment. On that occasion they only came to Milan, but then, in 2005 they came back with more dates in their tour, and they also came to Florence, my own town, and of course I went to the concert also on that occasion :-) By the way, in that tour, my dear friend Jacopo Meille (who also sings with me our Deep Purple cover band, Purple Sucker) with his own band Mantra, opened Europe's concerts!
Well, now this new record, Secret Society, is great, in my opinion much more than Start From the Dark. Songs are different from each other and they tend to be more melodic (which is something I love most). John's guitar is even better in this record. Unfortunately, the effects on Joey's voice are not that great... probably the voice is far too compressed and in some sense spoils the vocal lines in some songs.
Look forward to seeing them in tour again! Rock On!