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Album Review: Ace of Base – Hidden Gems

4 min read

In the 90’s, Swedish four piece Ace of Base were quick to solidify their place in the sweet pop history books when the band released their debut album Happy Nation in 1993. The record arrived equipped with some of the most memorable and most successful singles of the decade with tracks like All That She Wants and The Sign becoming two of the biggest selling singles of any artist in history.

Ace of Base - Hidden GemsHappy Nation has since gone to sell in excess of 25 million copies around the world and from the time of its release, Ace of Base were regarded as one of a new breed of successful pop phenomena to come from Scandinavia – following in the footsteps of other big sellers like ABBA and Roxette. They went on to sell a remarkable number of records over a career that produced several chart hitting albums including The Bridge (1995) and Flowers (1998) but like many fairytale pop tales, the success had an expiry date and at the start of the noughties the bands demise was certain as the two female vocalists, sisters Linn Berggren and Jenny Berggren decided to part ways with their brother Jonas and fellow band member Ulf Ekberg following the release  of the final album with all 4 original members, De Capo in 2002.

Since the bands split, a new incarnation of Ace of Base had a short lifespan as Jonas and Ulf introduced a pair of new female vocalists into the Ace of Base fold although the run was a short one and the band now officially consists of just Jonas and Ulf to carry the Ace of Base flag for new generations. While many of us hope that the band will mend any broken ties and reform for a new record and/or tour, they have offered us a fantastic release of tracks that have previously been unreleased from the years when the foursome ruled the airwaves and the charts.

Hidden Gems consists of both unreleased tracks and B-sides from the bands former glory years and is the perfect collection for those who need a fix of bubble-gum pop or a reminder of what truly great pop music is all about. These songs will strike a nostalgic chord for anyone around during the time of the 90’s British pop music invasion when bands like Steps, The Spice Girls, 5ive and Aqua were the dominant forces in the music industry. Alongside, and ahead of many, was Ace of Base who shaped many a teenager’s life during that time.

The record contains 15 tracks from various Ace of Base eras with more recent years around the release of 2002’s De Capo being given the most of the spotlight. Go Go Go is the clear standout track on the record and while it was born quite late in the bands career the gem sounds closer to the bands earlier output than their work on De Capo. The catchy verses and hook driven chorus would have made this number a very nice addition to Happy Nation or The Bridge.

With De Capo outtakes being the focus, there are some older numbers scattered around the record with highlights including a reworking of Giving It Up from the mid-90’s holding centre spot on the record and Always Have, Always Will B-side, Mercy Mercy, from the bands Flowers era providing a couple of the records key inclusions.

The danceable, club inspired beat of Make My Day and the acoustic, summer road-trip vibe of Would You Believe offer diversity within the bands familiar pop output that makes the majority of the record.

There is a lot to offer within this latest collection. It’s not just a nostalgic stroll through the colourful and catchy catalogues of one of pop music’s most vibrant collectives but also serves as a reminder of a band that are still credible and relevant in today’s pop music with superstar artists like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and many other hit-makers citing the Swedes as fundamental influencers in their own hits and collections like this and the bands impressive multi-million selling back catalogue is testament to the influence that they have on the music industry and why they have retained such an enormous fan-base after all these years despite very infrequent releases and line-up changes. Just listen to Prime Time and you will certainly hear where Gaga drew inspiration from the band when writing her hit Alessandro.

This really is a track-listing of hidden gems and hopefully this won’t be the last we hear from the iconic Ace of Base camp!