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Per Gessle – Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig – the chat


This is Per’s 10th solo album. He’s really working on a totally different album, an English power-pop one. Then this terrible Corona pandemic showed up and stopped most everything.

 

Per’s been sitting alone in Halmstad all summer, and the idea of an acoustic album popped up. And here we are. The main idea of the acoustic album was for Per to perform as many instruments as possible on his own. He started with the single “Mamma” and “Pappa” and that was the catalyst needed. Maybe it’s some sort of contrast to what Per is doing these later years, all the programming and keyboards etc. “I wanted to make something as personal as possible.” But he didn’t have any songs. Or did he…? Yes he certainly did, he realized he’s been writing songs for 44 years so he went through his vast catalogue of songs and picked the ones he liked the best, released, unreleased or recorded by others. He updated them and then recorded them, the Per Gessle 2020 style.

Lots of ‘80s songs, lots of old gems. Funny since Per realized he wrote songs differently back then. They were longer… Many of the songs have kept their quality after all, according to Per.

He tested a lot of them but many fell on the finishing line. Music or lyrics wise. Some of the lyrics have been reworked to be more relevant or to get the “awkwardness” out of them. Per plays almost everything on the album but bass and drums, basically. 

For this album Per was influenced by Paul McCartney, JJ Cale and “of course” John Holm. 

Nypon och ljung (new)

Per has always liked this. “We added instrument after instrument to the acoustic recording,” says Per. 

Thomas: The first single and a good album opener. Per wrote this back in 2012 for Gyllene’s “Dags att tänka på refrängen” but was never presented for the band. Per made a new demo for the Nashville trip, but it wasn’t even played there. This is a favorite of Per’s. Ditzy lyrics.

Paul: I’m glad Per didn’t present this to the GT boys as I’m not sure it would’ve fitted them as well as it does here.  First time I heard this I was a bit shocked.  I was expecting another acoustic ballad, not this.  Per’s guitar work is nice.  There is something of a timeless quality to the track. 

Thomas: The production is swell!

Kai: Well, if this one sets the mood for the album, bring it on! You can hear the GT vibes very well in it and of course to hear a version with a Farfisa would be really really cool. This kind of music is very Swedish, hard to find in other corners of the world.

I din hand (recorded by Svante Thuresson)

Written by Per and Åsa. The demo is from 1993. Per wonders why he wrote a waltz in the middle of the Crash! song writing bonanza. “Maybe it was something for me and my wife to bond on a Thursday? It doesn’t happen that often.”

Thomas: This was always a golden nugget of mine. Svante’s version obviously. Very airy and loving. As Per says, Åsa helped him with the lyrics. Nowadays he doesn’t recall why, but back then he stated that he had forgotten how to write in Swedish, so she helped out with this and also later Det är blommor som har fångat dej.

Paul: Not being familiar with Svante’s version, this is another new song for me. Per and Helena’s vocals blend so well on this, and across the whole album really. An English version of this wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the “Son Of A Plumber” album.

Kai: You know what I find interesting? Most often Per writes a song with or for Åsa, it would be a waltz. So very romantic, n’est-ce pas? Helena does a great job here, sometimes I think that Per only writes three kinds of songs: songs for Marie, songs for Helena and songs for GT. Very nice little ballad!

Du kommer så nära (du blir alldeles suddig) (En händig man demo)

“Always liked this song, it was never properly recorded. It was time,” mentions Per. Uno Svenningsson (Freda) joined on vocals, one of Per’s favored singers. “A lovely day in the studio. The only song Christoffer Lundquist was involved with.” Chris played some electric guitar on it.

Thomas: Yes, this version is much better. All in all I must say this album feels almost like the next chapter of “En vacker XX” series, but without the Nashville touch. Then again Uno was never a favorite of mine, but who am I to complain?

Paul: Do you think so Thomas?  I don’t get that “En vacker XX” feeling.  Uno is a new name for me and must say I’m not really a fan of his voice so I would’ve preferred a version with just Per on vocals.

Thomas: I wouldn’t say it’s identical, just sort of the same vibes, only more Swedish.

Kai: Vacker? Rather an advanced “Mazarin” vibe. Which is good! Never heard of Uno before, he does have an interesting voice, it just sounds a bit off in this song, being mixed with Per and Helena’s. Fine little song that grows on you the more you listen to it. 

Hjärta utan hem (Finn 5 fel!)

Also one of Per’s cherished ones. Never performed live, but it’s constantly on Per’s mind, sometimes he turns off the sound on the TV, brings out the guitar and plays this just for the hell of it, so he gave it another shot. To be honest, it’s rather close to the demo released somewhere… Per Gessle Archives?

Paul: Winter is coming, grab a bottle of red wine and sit round the fire for this.  Such a warm feeling from this lovely little acoustic ballad.  Can see why it’s one of Per’s favourites!

Thomas: It’s rather similar to the demo that was released, but much better. I have the wine and the fire, but need the date for the feeling. Helena is as always amazing here.

Kai: Amazing how you can improve a song so gently. Lovely melody, fairylike background vocals. Nothing more to say, just sitting and listening. Where’s the wine again?

Thomas: Paul took it…

Segla på ett moln (demo)

The classic song written for “Per Gessle.” The other guys of Gyllene Tider left for their stint in the army, Per didn’t (green doesn’t suit him) so he wrote this (among others) instead. It wasn’t used and never released, says Per, which isn’t quite true. The demo sung together with Marie Fredriksson was released in 1992. “If you’ve heard this it’s most likely Anne-Lie Rydé’s version,” muses Per.

Paul: I have been waiting for this version to be released ever since hearing it on the “Mazarin” tour DVD.  It’s funny how some songs seem to talk to you, this one does that everytime I hear it.  Strong vocals from Per at the end of the song too!

Thomas: This was also written in English back then, but was never used until last year when Mono Mind recorded it as Shelter from the Storm, a Bob Dylan inspired title apparently. Nothing really to add, it’s a great song, much better than Anne-Lie’s which I find a bit too noisy.

Kai: Now this is a real gem. It could have been blown up with huge production and stuff but instead it stays very strong as this simple guitar based ballad. Amazing how well this song, written so many years ago by Per, still sounds so fresh today. 

Thomas: Yes, it’s been underused so to speak.

Ömhet (new)

Written for “Mazarin” but the music wasn’t good enough so it was refused. Per wrote new music for it for “Dags att tänka på refrängen” but wasn’t presented to the band this time either. Another demo was made for Nashville but then it didn’t feel right, too “big” for this kind of album.

Paul: Yeah, I get that – this wouldn’t have fitted the Nashville recordings at all.  Love the little claps in the chorus.  And Helena! She is sounding fantastic on this one.  Pretty sure this one would sound great live.  Maybe one day…

Thomas: One of my top numbers on this album, both melody and lyrics wise. And the handclaps! A faster number, but that’s needed to keep you alert.

Kai: Starting off as what sounds like a shanty song, it turns into a fully blown pop song. And yes, it wouldn’t fit the Nashville mood. Good they left it for this album where it can shine.

Viskar (Scener)

Written for Åsa, says Åsa. Per is uncertain, but if Åsa says so it’s so.There’s a demo, a duet with Marie Fredriksson that’s around 8 minutes long and “unlistenable”… “I like it a lot,” says Per about the new version.

Thomas: Simply amazing! And the original was truly great as well. I remember sitting in the darkness in Ohio listening to this album and this song over and over again feeling sad and missing Gyllene. My dad had mailed me the album. It would be interesting to hear that 8-minute epic demo some day… And yes the “Scener” sleeve names Viskar as Woody’s song… Per claims he’s performed this live a few times. Wonder where…?

Paul: I remember being a young 15 year old and a penpal (remember those?) sent me a compilation cassette tape of some of Per solo tracks and the “Scener” version of Viskar was included. For some reason, that song always stood out to me and when I discovered that Per had re-recorded it for this collection I was intrigued with how it would be reworked. Ethereal. 

Kai: “Scener.” One of the albums Per never likes to talk about for some reason. Viskar had always been special to me, it was like the essence of the album back then. Like most of us, I discovered Per’s two first solo albums only after some time and it opened a new chapter of his songwriting for me. Good that they preserved “Scener” almost as it was, it’s stronger now!

Thomas: After all, Per calls 1985 his “dark period” or something like that.

Lycklig en stund (Scener)

Also from “Scener.” That version is apparently also unlistenable, according to Per. But “wacky”. Per performs a slide guitar solo, rather all instruments but drums, bass and the sax.

Thomas: I totally disagree with Per regarding this one. The original is great, one of my favorites off of “Scener.” This one is nice too, in a totally different way. Per started with recording the acoustic guitar and vocals, then they added instrument after instrument until they were happy. This is one of the songs with reworked lyrics, by the way. “Kvinna och man i harmoni…” is gone.

Paul: When Per tried to be Elvis. Yeah, not sure that worked out too well.  I listen to this new version and I can still hear that dodgy Elvis impression. The shortest song on the album and that isn’t a bad thing. 

Thomas: Gotta love that Fritzon-like keyboard!

Kai: Yes, they stand out. Like Paul said, they overdid it maybe. Or maybe it is because us old farts still have the original version in our heads and cannot accommodate to the new vibes anymore?

Tända en sticka till (Per Gessle)

Per can’t really remember when he wrote this. One of his all time favorites though.

Paul: Less country, more acoustic than the original.     
Thomas: A lot like the “Mazarin” tour version really. Awesome song, always has been. 

Kai: Less is more, just like here. Guess this song would have worked even without any instrument at all. The vocals carry the mood just splendidly. Fine songs age very well!   

Thomas: Like wine?      

Kai: Yes. Wasn’t the bottle still half full a few songs ago? Paul??!

Som regn på en akvarell (Puls)

Thomas: “Watercolors in the Rain”… took me years to realize that it’s the same title! Always liked this, and even if this version is nice I prefer the original Gyllene Tider version. Still one of Per’s favorites after all these years, harmonies galore on this one, from the first word. Helena’s voice is like cotton candy! “Very exciting! And sweet Jesus, I get to play the jew’s harp!” says Per.

Paul: Agree with Thomas.  The original GT version is better, but these new harmonies are lovely.  Plus Per’s voice is so much better now than it was back in the “Puls” days.  So maybe I do prefer the new version after all?  Who knows!

Kai: Nice rendition of an old goodie. Just as you said, not sure which version is better. In the end, it doesn’t really matter as both of them are very good in their own respects. 

Mamma (new)

Written for Mother’s Day. Pappa came first, but why not write a Mamma as well? The only song on the album with programming. “I like it, don’t know why, but then again, I don’t have to know everything?”

Paul: Yet more lovely melodies and nice harmonies! This is my favourite from the double A-side.

Thomas: It certainly is nice. I don’t like the programming though, not that that’s a huge problem. First world problems really.

Kai: Oh, I like the programming. Thing is, among all the other songs, it feels a bit like it’s from another planet. It sounds more modern than the rest. Which, don’t get me wrong, is excellent. Definitely one of the tracks I keep playing on repeat.

Pappa (new)

Helena impresses Per with her voice on this one.

Thomas: Can’t say if the lyrics about Per’s dad are true, judging by the past the first verse is true… According to his interview (was it on YouTube?) it seems to be correct.I like this better than Mamma, which I find too programmed. Not to say I hate that one.

Paul: It’s good to have a little bit of programming in the midst of all the acoustic guitars sometimes! 

Thomas: Speaking of nothing, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday here in Sweden!

Kai: Oh, do we have “Mazarin” vibes here again? Meaningful lyrics as well. Lovely production. Certainly one of the gems here.

Kom ut till stranden (demo)

Written for Per’s third solo album. One of the few songs that wasn’t translated into English and “Pearls of Passion.” Too hard for Per to translate, at the time. Now 24, no 34 years later it’s here. Saxophone is underrated so of course sax was needed, nay craved, on this. 

Thomas: Different lyrics, in fact I interpret the new lyrics being about Per’s relationship with Marie. Awfully beautiful lyrics regardless. This version of the song is truly fantastic, to quote both Marie and Per.

Paul: Indeed. If these lyrics are about their relationship, this is a lovely bittersweet end to the album. The arrangement works really well and suits the tone of the lyrics.  Doesn’t go too ‘big’ and doesn’t need to. Sometimes I wish my Swedish was better to truly appreciate the lyrics, especially on songs like this.   

Kai: Thomas, you are so right! This adds a totally new layer to this already wonderful song! Bittersweet message in a sweet package. This song is so good already for its meaning that we better lean back and listen to it now. Love the saxophone in the end, it fits so well! Ahhhh!

Final thoughts

Paul:  A nice album, some lovely tunes on here from the acoustic side of Per that we’ve come to know very well over the last few years.  However, I’m ready for 2021’s English ‘Power-Pop’ album now.  That’s why I fell in love with Per’s music in the first place!  

Thomas: Totally agree. While I do like this calmer side of Per it’s the Gyllene and power-pop sides, which go together like peas and carrots really, I adore. This is a great album, especially considering it was recorded over a month or so. T&A and Sweetspot studios. Two thumbs up. For the album, but also for the studios!

Kai: Granted, when I first of heard of this album, I expected not much. Old songs warmed up, as usual. But the result really surprised me. This is a very fine collection of songs with new life in them. Produced with care and respect. Certainly more than just a filler between two uptempo albums. The only thing that worries me is that Per tends to wrap up things now: First, he releases all (?) the old hidden Roxette pearls and now he’s going through what had not yet been polished up in his solo career. 

Thomas: You think? Nah. He can’t rest. He will be with us a while longer for sure!

Kai: No doubt about that! Woohoo!

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  ★ Publishing date:

November 5th, 2020


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