Roxette – Bag of Trix – volume 1
Here comes volume 1 of “Bag Of Trix” – the Roxette collection which presents a total of 47 unreleased or nowadays unavailable recordings: demos, alternative mixes and recordings, Spanish versions, bonus songs plus other fun stuff from the band’s long and successful career 1986-2016.
The first volume will be released tomorrow October 30 and contains twelve songs that have been recorded over a 30-year period. From the demo of “Like Lovers Do,” recorded during an early demo session as Marie and Per prepare Roxette’s debut album Pearls Of Passion in the summer of 1986, to the new single “Let Your Heart Dance with Me” which was never completed during the Good Karma recordings 2016.
The Bag Of Trix provides a unique insight into one of Sweden’s most successful pop groups’ fascinating career. Just take one of the first volume’s pearls – Brian Malouf’s American single mix of “Joyride,” which in the spring of 1991 became Roxette’s fourth number one on the Billboard charts. The song in its album version is a classic of Roxette’s repertoire, but most people outside the US have probably never heard this fiery and special single mix.
Bag Of Trix volume 1 also offers Per and Marie’s acoustic demo of the brand new “Hotblooded” at the time of recording, as well as an acoustic version of “Listen to Your Heart” which together with the interpretation of the Beatles masterpiece “Help!” was recorded in the Abbey Road studio in London in the fall of 1995.
And for Marie Fredriksson’s millions of fans around the world, it is perhaps with extra great anticipation that you will want to listen to her three home-recorded demo versions of her own songs “Pocketful of Rain”, “Beautiful Boy” and “Waiting for the Rain” – of which only the latter ended up on a Roxette album.
– Both Marie and I loved being in the studio and recording our music – and now that you look back on our careers, it is quite overwhelming how much material we managed to produce. Significantly more than could ever come out. We were really tagged by the whole fantastic Roxette circus, says Per Gessle with a smile.
– Much of what “only” ended up as bonus material on CD singles in Japan and in some cases never even came out today feels like an interesting complement to our regular catalog. So we believe that this Bag Of Trix can offer a lot of interesting listening for those who have followed us over the years, ends Per Gessle.
The Daily Roxette will of course continue our tradition of round table reviews. We find this Bag of Trix especially nice, it beats the RoxBox by far. Of course you can have opinions of missing track in eternity, remixes etc. Yes we’re not getting “My Heart Goes Boom Boom” or even the AC versions of “Dangerous” or “Listen to Your Heart,” but see it this way – we’re getting more of the music we’ve loved for some 30 odd years. Unfortunately the man of sweet nuthin’s had to sit this one out… (Yes, Stevo.)
1. Help! (Abbey Road Sessions – Nov 15, 1995)
Thomas: This was always a favorite of mine. I was in London while they recorded these tracks. Obviously I wasn’t in the studio, but still… It’s amazing how they can make that snappy Lennon/McCartney song sound so fragile. It gives a whole new meaning to the song. These were initially recorded for Capitol One I think? At least they were broadcast exclusively there.
Colin: I loved this as a B-side, I think it was on the UK version of the “You Don’t Understand Me” double single release, right? Roxette didn’t do many covers, but the ones they did were spot on!
Thomas: I think so.
Paul: I am shocked with you two! “Help!” wasn’t officially released until 2020 as the ‘lead single’ from Bag of Trix. CD1 of the UK release had Abbey Road versions of “The Look”, “Listen To Your Heart” and “You Don’t Understand Me” while CD2 had the demo of “Almost Unreal”, “Harleys & Indians” and “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye”. “Help!” did appear earlier on The RoxBox though. Anyway, this version of the classic Beatles track still sounds amazing.
Thomas: Bah, I’ve had it since 1995, I guess it was from the radio then… ha ha!
Kai: “The radio”. Sure, T… Anyway, two thoughts here: first, amazing how naturally Roxette-ish this Beatles song sounds. Could have been a Per penned Rox song that didn’t make it to let’s say Tourism for some reason we’re all not born to understand. Nice to hear how similar both bands’ music is. And second, have you ever considered the nerdiness of this recording? I mean, to record your idol’s song in your idol’s studio! This is almost like playing Joyride on the stairs of the hotel in Buenos Aires under P&M’s window. Wonder what that felt like for them.
Thomas: Must’ve felt awesome and scary at the same time.
2. Listen to Your Heart (Abbey Road Sessions – Nov 15, 1995)
Thomas: Same thing here; an amazing version of an amazing song. We all know the backstory – a friend of Per’s calls and asks for advice regarding his marriage. Guess Per’s advice wasn’t the best, since they divorced.
Colin: This version is so beautiful, it’s the purest and most beautiful version of the song. Close your eyes and Per and Marie are right beside you singing one of their masterpieces. Beautiful!
Paul: Maybe it was the magic of being at Abbey Road, but the four tracks Rox recorded there certainly are something special. Marie’s vocals are crystal clear.
Kai: Well, we all know the original version. Heavily produced power pop song with a fabulous string section making its way through the radios of this world. Good to hear that this very very stripped down version works so well. Speaks of the quality of the writer(s) of this song. Guess, he’s got quite some chances in the music biz. Must remember this guy, you never know! Dankeschön!
3. Let Your Heart Dance with Me
Thomas: We reviewed this the other week. Our concensus was that it was great to hear Per and Marie again. I still stand by that. It’s also a great song.
Colin: Great song, lovely Marie.
Paul: Yeah! A shame this didn’t get radio play, but it is still a nice song.
Kai: Being placed right after two classics, this songs sounds very modern. Nice tune that should have deserved more time on the radios and headphones of this planet. Come on, “Long forgotten, never played before Roxette song has surfaced”… why does that not make the news worldwide? The Rolling Stones with their boring new single on the other hand…gahhhh!
4. Waiting for the Rain (Studio Vinden Demo 1997)
Paul: I’ve never heard this before (I don’t think). Certainly sounds very similar to the finished version, but with some slightly different lyrics. When Have A Nice Day was released this was the song I skipped. However, over the years I’ve grown to like it. Was decent on the Room Service tour too!
Thomas: I never liked this song, still don’t. The demo also sounds a lot like the finished version. This leaked 15-20 years ago at some record fair along with other Marie demos. And I’m pretty sure this is the version released on the CD The Look for Roxette.
Colin: Ah, I remember that record fair and bringing home that disc! Very much like the original indeed, lovely tune. Na-na-na-na-na-na…
Kai: Oh, I hear this song for the first time now. The album version was okay to me but I must say this demo is much better. It’s airy, playful, rhythmic. Yes!
Thomas: Oh dear…
5. Joyride (Brian Malouf US Single Mix 1991)
Thomas: Like Per says, this is the version that was on the radio in the US. I always liked it, I think it was included on the CD single back when. There’s also a couple of AC versions (Adult contemporary) where one of them has no whistling and no guitar, because apparently American adults can’t handle that… This version is like the album version on steroids. By the way, the US cassingle features the album version.
Colin: Great song, but never understood all those different radio mixes for the US…
Thomas: No one does.
Paul: What is there to say? Apart from it’s missing “ROX-ETTE” at the end.
Kai: Yeah, well, I mean…why?? It’s more dense than the album track, I think. Or isn’t it? Who knows?
6. Like Lovers Do (Montezuma Demo – Jul 25-26, 1986)
Thomas: Acoustic demo, sounds like they’re having fun in Marie’s boyfriend’s studio. This features the younger, louder Marie! This demo is recorded about two weeks after “Neverending Love” was released. A determined duo!
Colin: Now this is what I came for! Per’s demos from ’85 – ’89 is heaven for me and since I became a fan it’s been a dream of mine to hear all the demos from the Pearls of Passion album and now we’re almost there! This is one of my favorite songs of the album, and like many demos from that time it really gets that fresh enthusiasm and energy across. Marie’s voice is amazing, every time you think she’s not going to reach the note she does – and that’s before autotune, folks!
Paul: Ahh, listen to young Marie! Even back then, the accent is pretty amazing. And that voice! To sing like that with just an acoustic guitar as backing – impressive.
Thomas: Funny detail, they don’t share the verses here.
Kai: One of my favs on the album. Always has been. This demo sounds so innocent and emotional at the same time. Wonderful version!
7. Pocketful of Rain (Skinnarviksringen Demo – Feb 1993)
Thomas: Huh, totally different from the other demo. This version has music by Marie obviously. I like the other version better, not saying that’s great either, but this is so not my bag of… tea. Next one please.
Colin: The other demo which was on all kinds of different bootleg albums had an upbeat feeling to it even though the message is kind of bleak. This version fits the lyrics better and sets a nice mood. Would’ve made a nice single in the ’90s, I think.
Kai: Oha! Have me fired but I like this song. It has this certain sound of Den Ständiga Resan to it. Moody, bluesy, lovely. Just enjoy!
Paul: Yeah, I can see why this wasn’t included on either Look Sharp! or Crash! Boom! Bang! It’s interesting to see how a song can develop and change over the years like this. Marie sounds good though – you can hear she enjoyed singing this type of track.
8. Wish I Could Fly (Live EMP Church, Seattle Oct 7, 2000)
Thomas: Ah yes, from the US promo tour in 2000. Roxette did a 7-gig long tour, semi-acoustic. Seattle, NYC, Omaha, for the new record company deal that totally imploded. They performed a set of around 7 songs, among them this, the new single. This version may have been released on a CDR back then, at least there was one released.
Colin: Nice live version, though it feels a bit out of place on this album.
Paul: It’s a decent enough version of a song that we all know and love. I’m with Colin though, it’s a bit odd in the middle of the demos and other tracks. Maybe one of the Bag of Trix volumes could’ve put the live recordings together?
Kai: True thing. Nice version and interesting to hear how close this live version resembled the mood of the album track. Still, would have preferred the songs to be sorted rather by their eras they were made in. And then an extra live disc, just for the fun of it.
Thomas: You’re German, right?
9. Happy Together (T&A Demo – Jul 1-2, 1998)
Kai:Just for one moment, imagine this song fully produced. A bit more bpm, more guitars, a driving drum track, this certain kind of happy go lucky singalong pop kind of song! Add a proper middle eight to it and there is your world hit. You’re welcome. (Yes, these are sad lyrics but that has never stopped P&M to wrap them in a happy tune)
Thomas: This is a B-side isn’t it? At least I have it already. To be honest it’s not that different from the released version, which also was labeled “demo” as well, wasn’t it? Crash!Boom!Bang! Anyways, I always liked the lyrics but not the arrangement so much.
Colin: One of those ‘B-sides that should’ve been singles’. Great song.
Paul: The B-side to “Wish I Could Fly”, at least in the UK. Not sure if that was the demo or another version. It certainly sounds very similar! I always liked this and was a great contrast to “WICF” on the single – really stands out. Maybe should’ve been a double A-side?
10. Beautiful Boy (Studio Vinden Demo – Mar 2000)
Thomas: There’s a reason very few Marie songs ended up on the Roxette albums. “The best material available will make the album” and this isn’t even close. Still it’s nice to hear Marie’s voice and she sounds happy.
Colin: This might sound strange coming from me and an old T&A demo enthusiast, but I actually think this is one of Marie’s best songs. This should’ve been a single, Roxette or solo. Let’s make it happen!
Paul: Thomas is getting even grumpier in his old age. I like this! Swap this with “Little Girl” on Room Service please. Lovely to hear Marie on another unknown song again too.
Kai: Shush Thomas, you have clearly no idea. This is a real surprise in this collection. Beautiful song with a beautiful tune, somewhere close to See Me. I guess the reason why it never made it to any album is that it simply never really fit in back then. Apart from it being sung by Marie it indeed does not sound very Roxette-ish. Nowadays, this song, produced in a darker mood and performed by (for instance) Billie Eilish would have been a hit. Yeah, a stupid idea but think it through!
11. You Don’t Understand Me (T&A Demo Jul 30, 1995)
Thomas: Ah yes, the song built around the drum loop. Sounds a lot like the finished product, but rawer, of course. Marie sounds strong here. I always liked these lyrics as well. I’m a sucker for love I guess.
Colin: Yes, very similar to the released version, no big surprises here. It brings me back to hearing this song for the first time and really having to get used to the ‘new’ Roxette sound at that time. Brings back a lot of memories!
Paul: This song should’ve been massive back in 1995! Still sounds good today. The way Marie sings this, both demo and finished product, is magical. The “I guess loneliness found a new friend. Here I am” line is one of my favorites lines in a song ever.
Kai Hmm. Hmmmm. Well. Still, I prefer the album version. Next?
12. Hotblooded (T&A Demo – Dec 13, 1990)
Colin: Wow, this is some hard core blues energy, Marie at her roughest – crank up the volume!
Thomas: Very nice version, sounds hot even though I prefer the recorded version. This is somewhat closer to the Unplugged version. A great song, underrated. The ending is funny!
Paul: Go back to my comments on “Like Lovers Do” above. Hearing a rocker like “Hotblooded” in this acoustic demo form is crazy. This is the best song on this volume of Bag of Trix for me – Marie’s vocals are on FIRE!
Kai: This is maybe the track you need to show to people who still think Roxette was only IMHBL and LTYH, smooth radio friendly pop songs pleasing young people. Au contraire. Here’s where you can hear the true potential of Marie. And while we’re all in the right mood now, bring on disc 2, will you?
Thomas: Hang on…