06. Swedish Dance Bands: Danceable, Melodious, and Familiar

LARS LILLIESTAM


 

1. Vikingarna, “Leende guldbruna ögon” (Smiling golden brown eyes)

From: Absolute Dansband Hits, Eva Records EVACD 4182, 2013, CD.

 

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This is a classic dance band number, maybe even “THE archetypical dance band song”, performed and recorded by countless bands. The first Swedish version of the song was recorded in 1951 by Charles Redland Orchestra and fhe first dance band recording was made in 1976 by Sven-Ingvars. The song is an adaptation of “Beautiful brown eyes” written by Alton Delmore and Arthur Smith. The lyrics were translated into Swedish by Olle Bergman. The steel guitar gives the song a strong country flavour.


 

2. Lasse Stefanz with Christina Lindberg, “De sista ljuva åren” (The sweet final years)

From: Absolute Dansband Hits, Eva Records EVACD 4182, 2013, CD.

 

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This is a compilation of live recordings, published on YouTube in 2011. It features country singer Christina Lindberg along with Lasse Stefanz’ lead singer Olle Jönsson. Written by Jan Christer Eriksson the first recording of the song was released on the album “Livets ljusa sida”.


 

3. Arvingarna, “Eloise”

From: Våra allra bästa (Our very best), MSE – Musikservice, SME-8898544-7722, 2017, CD. The original single was released in 1993.

 

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“Eloise” was written by Gert Lengstrand and Lasse Holm, won the Swedish Melodifestivalen in 1993 and was the Swedish contribution to Eurovision Song Contest the same year where it was number 7. Arvingarna is a typical example of modernisers of the dance band style with, in this case, echoes of four part vocal harmony á la The Beach Boys and a slightly expanded chord palette compared to the main-stream dance band style.


 

4. Bengt Hennings, “Euphoria”

From: Scenen är vår (The stage is ours), Atenzio Reco BGR-ATZ -1224, 2012, CD,
or Absolute Dansband Hits, Eva Records EVACD 4182, 2013, CD.

 

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“Euphoria”, the winning Swedish song from The Eurovision Song Contest 2012, was performed by Loreen and written by Thomas G:son and Peter Boström. The Bengt-Hennings’ cover recording is a good example of “dancebandification”, i.e. how a contemporary pop song can be adapted to the dance band style.


 

5. Leif Norbergs Orkester, “Highway to hell”

From: Highway to Hellsingland, 1995, Pickwick 751526, CD.

 

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Another example of “dancebandification”. Leif Norbergs Orkester in 1995 made a whole album with covers of classic heavy metal songs. AC/DC’s “Highway to hell” is one, along with, among, others “Smoke on the water”, “Jump”, “Stairway to heaven” and “Paranoid”. It is all made slightly tongue-in-cheek with heaps of stereotypical dance band traits and tricks, like the saxophones. The band came from the region of Helsingland in central Sweden inviting the album title “Highway to Hellsingland”.


 

6. Sven-Ingvars, “Börja om från början” (Back to square one)

From: Önskedansen (Desire Dance), Frituna 8511 2, 1993, CD. The original single was released in 1965.

 

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Sven-Ingvars, founded in 1956, made their record debut in 1961 and had a string of massive hits in Sweden in the 1960’s, like “Börja om från början” from 1965. The band is one of the founding fathers of the dance band style using a typical mix of traits from different 1950’s and 1960’s pre-Beatles styles. Sven-Ingvars was fronted by the charismatic lead singer Sven-Erik Magnusson, who passed away in early 2017. The band is still active, however, with the singer’s son, Oscar Magnusson, as front figure. In Sweden Sven-Ingvars has become a kind of cultural icon, and it is sometimes claimed that “all Swedes know their songs and can sing along”.