The epic album Pearls of Passion turns 35
35 years ago a very important album was released. Important how you may wonder? Did it sell millions? Did it make waves? Was it extensively talked about?
The answer to all these questions is no. Pearls of Passion, Roxette’s debut album (not counting Heartland) was released on vinyl today in 1986. It was a huge success – in Sweden, with more than 200,000 copies sold. That is a lot – in Sweden. It was released in Germany and Canada as well, but later. Supposedly Germany and Canada’s sales amounted to around 25 copies… The Canadian release included the 7″ version of “Soul Deep”.
No, the important thing about this album is that it was the start of something wonderful.
Pearls of Passion‘s original name was Pearls and Passion, but Kjelle Andersson at EMI read it wrong and started calling it Pearls of Passion. “I’ve always hated album titles with the word ‘of’ in the middle, because it sounds so pretentious and makes one think of awful album titles like Wings of Tomorrow. But I agreed to it.” says Per and continues “One of the reasons was that those initials formed the word ‘P.O.P.'”
Per and Marie, as Roxette, had a major hit with “Neverending Love” in Sweden the summer of ’86 so naturally an album came into talks, and it probably was Per’s plan all along. So on August 18, a Monday, they went into the studio and started recording “I Call Your Name”. Per wanted it machine-based, but Clarence wanted it organic, and Clair won. The same thing happened with Look Sharp! two years later, by the way, but then luckily Alar Suurna broke his leg and Anders Herrlin took his place – hence machines!
Anyway, they put 12 tracks on the album, one track too many according to technical rules which make the album’s sound less powerful if it’s too long. A problem that would disappear with the CD. Per wanted to remove “Voices”, Marie’s only contribution to the album, or “From One Heart to Another” but after discussing it with Kjelle the songs stay. A song that doesn’t stay however is the title track “Pearls of Passion”, a decision the band members find weird. They all think that’s the best song on the album. It reappears as a B-side to “Soul Deep” later.
Pearls was filled with translated songs from PG III, Per’s halted solo album. “The material consisted mostly of songs I had written for what would be my third solo album. ‘Soul Deep’ was called ‘Dansar ner för ditt stup i rekordfart’ and there were demos of a lot of songs with Swedish titles: ‘Farväl till dej’ (‘Goodbye to You’), ‘Jag hör din röst’ (‘I Call Your Name’), ‘En känsla av en kvinna’ (‘Call of the Wild’), ‘Som i en dröm’ (‘So Far Away’) and so on. Only ‘Secrets That She Keeps’ and ‘Surrender’ were written directly for the album. ‘Voices’, Marie wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics.” says Per.
Pearls of Passion yielded four singles; “Neverending Love”, “Soul Deep”, “I Call Your Name” and “Goodbye to You”. The 12″ remix single of “Goodbye to You” was scrapped for unknown reasons, and “I Call Your Name” was only released in Germany and Canada. None of the singles made any noise abroad whatsoever which must have been frustrating.
“Along the way, ‘new’ versions of ‘Neverending Love’ and ‘I Call Your Name’ were made with a European producer (Frank Mono). All according to the wishes of Roel Kruize who was head of EMI Europe and who was a huge fan of both GT and Rox. Without him, nothing would have happened. It was Roel and I who went to London to meet different UK producers who would produce three songs for the Look Sharp! album the year after. The choice fell, as we all know, on Adam Moseley.” Per says to TDR, and adds:
“By the way, Staffan Astner played the guitar on the new version of ‘I Call Your Name’. I wasn’t in the studio (EMI Stockholm) for some reason and never met Frank Mono. I also thought his versions were lousy!”
The album has since been re-released a few times, in 1997 it came out as The First Album for instance.
I loved the album, I still do. I listened to it back to back, over and over again, so happy to be able to hear Per’s music again. Gyllene Tider broke up, I moved to the US (and still tried to get “Teaser Japanese” played on the radio there, without success), got a letter from my best friend in July ’86 saying Roxette has a new song out. I told him it’s BS, Roxette quit last year. But when I got back to Sweden July 16, 1986, there was indeed a hit out – “Neverending Love”. I didn’t like it (at first), it sounded forced and weird, but hey, it was music from Per! When the album came out I bought my first CD player, but that was later, in November. There are so many nice songs on the album, still. “Call of the Wild”, “So Far Away”, “From One Heart to Another” and many more. The only song I never really liked is “Joy of a Toy”.
With that I wish the album a very Happy 35th birthday, even if it feels more like… 10 years?
Hats off to… Larry!