Monday, September 26, 2011

Tomas Ledin - it's "Showtime"!

On 22nd September, Tomas Ledin began his 55-night residency at Rondo in Liseberg, Gothenburg. The 1 hour 50 minute show mixes live performance of Tomas' hits from 1969 to the present day, clips from Tomas' lifestory, and anecdotes from the man himself. The Swedish press have been reviewing the show as follows:
Svenska Dagbladet -



Göteborgs-Posten - here is the setlist which is also courtesy of Göteborgs-Posten.

Vi är på gång
500 dagar om året
Helt galen i dig
Medley 1969-1980 (Too many days, Då ska jag spela, Knivhuggarrock, Festen har börjat, Minns du Hollywood, Vi ska gömma oss i varandra, Never again, Just nu, m.fl)
Genom ett regnigt Europa
Atlantkustens kyliga smekning
En dag på stranden
Blå blå känslor
Äl u oäten
Sommaren är kort
Hon gör allt för att göra mig lycklig
Det ligger i luften
Du kan lita på mig
En del av mitt hjärta
Sensuella Isabella
På vingar av stål
Snart tystnar musiken
I natt är jag din

(picture courtesy of Svenska Dagbladet

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Swedish Charts Update

It's been a while since the last one so what's been happening in the Sverige Topplistan charts?

In the album chart, Melissa Horn is at no.1 with her latest album "Innan Jag Kände Dig". Her style of intense acoustic/folk music doesn't really appeal to me, but she is very popular so it's no surprise that her album has outsold all others in its first week of release.

Then there is the ubiquitous Adele at no.2 with "21". Is there now anyone in the world (apart from me and faithful travelling companion) who does not own a copy of this album??? Swedish acts still have a healthy presence in the album charts though - Eric Saade, Benny Anderssons Orkester, Veronica Maggio, Ulrik Munther, September, Takida and The Ark, who played their final gig earlier this month at Gröna Lund in Stockholm.

What I love about European countries is that they have a much broader musical taste and sometimes very surprising names will crop up in the album charts. I was very surprised to see Nick Lowe entering at no. 9 with "The Old Magic" which I checked out some snippets of on iTunes. It's a collection of almost country-flavoured ballads which might appeal to a certain section of the record buying market I guess. Intelligent singer-songwriter fare by a man who is growing old very gracefully indeed.

Nils Landgren meanwhile is a jazz singer and trombonist whose latest album "The Moon, The Stars and You" is dedicated to the late great Esbjorn Svensson. Nils has been around for years but I hadn't heard of him till now. He is not just a talented trombonist but he also has a very lovely singing voice. The album includes some interesting covers of "Moonshadow", "Moon River" and "Till There Was You", and if you need some laid-back jazzy mood music then this could be the perfect album for you.

Just as I never really understood the success of "Om Sanningen Ska Fram" then in a similar vein “Vart Jag Mig I Världen Vänder" by Den Svenska Björnstammen also made it to no.1 in the Sverige Topplistan singles list. I prefer their next dancey anthem "Allting Kommer Bli Bra" - check it out at Their no.1 song was deposed by "Moves Like Jagger", but Oleg is not too far behind with "Elektropop" which sounds like a Melodifestivalen entry! One other notable Swedish act in the top 10 is Avicii with his original version of the song "Fade Into Darkness" which was of course sampled by Leona Lewis on her current hit "Collide". I have to say I prefer Avicii's song to Leona's, but they both share a good backing track :)

I've been out of the loop of Swedish music for most of the summer so am just catching up with some of it now. Kapten Röd is a new name to me, who has brought some welcome reggae sounds into the chart.

One song which has probably been around for ever is "Fest Hos Mange" by Mange Makers, which I still have a completely unhealthy obsession with. The off-key singing and the "Mange kom igen nu!" may probably be too much for some people, but I am not ashamed to say I still love it. Mange mange!

Newkid is another new name to me. He is a new entry further down the chart with "Jag Gråter Bara i Regnet" which reminded me a little of Daniel Adams-Ray/Oskar Linnros so if you're a fan of their recent stuff you might like this as well, even if it's a bit too much autotuned for my liking.

Over the past year or so there has been a welcome increase in Swedish-language pop/rock/rap/dance music. Long may it continue!

La Tasca - the party's over?

Any posts about food and drink would usually be found over at Random Ramblings, but in this instance I felt that it would be more appropriate over here, as it fits in very nicely with this blog’s obsession with all things European.

Our 10 year love affair with La Tasca began in 2001, when we began visiting La Tasca in Glasgow. Coincidentally, that was also the year we visited Spain for the first time (Barcelona) so it was a good introduction to tapas, a type of food which we were previously unfamiliar with.

Although it was a chain restaurant, La Tasca had a unique personality and ‘buzz’ about it. Every trip to La Tasca was an assault on the senses, every space on the bright orange walls was filled with bullfight and flamenco posters, paintings of bulls, and all kinds of Spanish-related artefacts, coloured plates and ornaments; wrought-iron chandeliers, dark brown wood panelled walls with bright orange/yellow Spanish tiles, and dark wooden chairs and tables. Then there was the music - a non-stop party soundtrack of the Gipsy Kings’ greatest hits, as well as Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, Juanes and the Spanish pop hits of the day. You’d also hear Brazilian or Cuban music too; it all just added to the atmosphere. A visit to La Tasca was a sun-soaked escape from a cold, rainy day, a little piece of Spain in the middle of the city.

Back in those early days we also had our favourite waiting staff....La Tasca was a ‘hot’ destination in more ways than one :)

But what about the food? OK so it may not have been "gourmet" but who needs that? You were always guaranteed some tasty tapas, and for an almost-veggie like myself there was a good choice of vegetarian options in addition to the red meat/chicken/seafood tapas on offer. A good selection of Spanish wines and beers were also available, and of course the all-important sangria to bring back the memories of a Spanish holiday. Maybe that’s why La Tasca was so popular in Glasgow and elsewhere - you could uniquely recapture the summer holiday feeling.

Maybe it was this need to recreate that holiday experience, or just the unique buzzing party atmosphere, but whatever it was kept the crowds coming back, time after time. We were proud to call ourselves "regulars" who visited over and over again. The prices increased over time which drove some customers away, but then the various deals were introduced and they came back. There were some changes over the years - a slight decluttering of the walls, a change of menu, the departure of our favourite waiters/waitresses....yet it was still ‘our’ La Tasca. You knew what you were getting every time you walked through those doors, yet familiarity never bred contempt. We even tried other branches, at the Silverburn Shopping Centre and also in Edinburgh. Those were also very good, and I have some particularly fond memories of the waiters too ;)

We hadn’t been to La Tasca recently so it was inevitably time for a return visit. But then on Friday I discovered this article which brought the dreaded news that the powers that be think La Tasca is a ‘tired’ brand and it’s time for a rebranding and makeover. Oh really? Well they say ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. La Tasca ain’t broke, not in our book. There was lots of life left in the old-style La Tasca, which has influenced many other tapas bars which have sprung up in recent years. We’ve tried some of them, they are good but they just didn’t have the magical atmosphere of La Tasca.

But now, out goes the old decor and in comes the dreaded ‘contemporary’ styling. In my book, ‘contemporary’ in restaurant terms equals bland and personality-free. We like the decor of restaurants to reflect the cuisine served there. If we’re in an Indian restaurant we want pictures of elephants and people in traditional Indian dress on the wall. If we’re in a Chinese restaurant, bring on the dragon murals. And if that sounds tacky, so what? Better than the dreaded ‘contemporary’, all laminated floors, cream walls and beech wood tables = blandsville. The article said that Glasgow was going to be one of its first group of restaurants to get the makeover.
One day after discovering the news of the makeover, we headed to La Tasca to grab one final tapas lunch before it became this unrecognisable place. But it was too late. The restaurant was closed to the public and was in the middle of the makeover. White chairs and tables and a giant mural of red chillies on the wall, workmen going in and out. It’s La Tasca, but not as we know it. Even the name has been changed to La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar & Kitchen...all very ‘contemporary’ indeed.

The main reason for visiting a restaurant is for good food of course, but the La Tasca experience was so much more than that. It was a Latin party and everyone was invited, but now it looks like the party’s over and La Tasca will never be the same again. We can only hope they’ve kept our favourite menu items, and haven’t swapped the likes of "Djobi Djoba" for contemporary restaurant snoozefest music, with Adele on repeat. We will give the new La Tasca a chance, and reserve our judgement until our next visit, but I fear the worst. (Anyone want to reassure me otherwise?)

In the meantime, remember them this are some photos which I took between 2006 and 2010 in La Tasca in Glasgow.

Above: three of my favourites - champinones al ajillo, patatas bravas, patatas a la pobre.

Above: tapas by night, December 2010.

Above: Christmas lights, December 2010.

Above: Pisto manchego.

Above: the iconic patatas bravas.

Above: more champinones al ajillo.

Above: faithful travelling companion's bravas, montado de lomo and calamares andaluz.

Above: February 2006. Wine bottles recycled as candlesticks :)

Above: November 2008.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dublin tomorrow :)))

So we're off to Dublin for a short break tomorrow. This blog will be back next weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Whilst researching the Irish iTunes chart to get some inspiration with a view towards possible purchases during my forthcoming Dublin trip, I was initially disappointed as the curse of pop globalisation had struck again. Although I was cheered up by the fact that "Moves Like Jagger", one of my favourite pop songs of 2011, had been at no.1. There are very few Irish artists in the singles/albums chart, and the ones which are there didn’t inspire me (sorry Jedward). Anyway some further digging lower down the singles chart led me to a song called "Good Intentions" by Bressie, a name I hadn’t heard before. I had a listen and was immediately impressed. If you want a musical comparison, he reminded me of Erik Hassle. Yes, that good.

Further investigation revealed that Bressie, or Niall Breslin to give him his full name, was previously the lead singer of a very popular Irish band called The Blizzards. Musical comparison time: think Snow Patrol, only with much more uptempo/cheerier tunes and not a dreary-pop dirge in sight.

Bressie launched his solo career with "Can’t Stay Young (Forever)":
He also moved to London to write and produce music for himself and other artists and is signed to Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment. I’m not sure if an international launch is on the cards, but I’m guessing it’s highly likely that his music will get a UK release at some point. If the trend will ever swing away from tiresome r’n’b- urban-pop-dance crossover and X Factor contestants towards quality pop music, then I would foolishly predict that Bressie could become a very big star.

Official website:

His debut album "Colourblind Stereo" will be released today, so voila! CD purchasing problem resolved!

Or if you're one of these modern people who likes this new-fangled downloading off iTunes thing, get it at

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big holiday announcement time!!

Drum roll......

We're going to Dublin next week for a few days' break!! Very excited! Needless to say, "The Dublin Diaries", with all the usual gratuitous food photography, will be published on this blog at some point :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: August 2011

Two weeks late, but it's here anyway...

BBC Four had a 'foreign pop' themed night, the centrepiece being "Anyone For Demis?" an entertaining enough documentary about foreign/foreign-language songs and artists who broke through into the British consciousness, although it maybe spent a bit too much time on the post-war years and had a very limited focus on the modern pop era. During the programme, someone made a comment that there are no big Europop hits breaking through anymore, "because there's no room for them". Which I found a bit sad really.

The documentary was followed by "Exotic Pop At The BBC" (BBC Four) which featured most of the music from the documentary - and our highlight was "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco!!

The critics may have branded it exploitative, yet I don't feel so guilty about enjoying "Seven Dwarves" (Channel 4) because (a) it lets the seven little actors appearing in Woking's panto speak for themselves; and (b) no-one made them do it. Each weekly programme focuses on a different member of the gang, all of whom have an interesting story to tell.

Back to BBC Four now, which had yet another theme night - this time focusing on one of the best singer-songwriters of the 1970s, Gilbert O'Sullivan, who has been overlooked when the history of pop has been written. In the documentary "Gilbert O'Sullivan - Out on His Own" you got the feeling that he felt a little cheated, that he should have had more success than he did. He still wants success, but seems quietly defiant that this should be on his own terms. The closing scenes of him playing to a packed house suggests that there's still a lot of love out there for his music.

Another legendary singer-songwriter who achieved massive 70s success, Gerry Rafferty, was fondly remembered in the documentary "Right Down The Line" (BBC Scotland). Gerry sadly passed away at the beginning of 2011. Despite enjoying massive success with the classic "Baker Street" (from the brillliant "City to City" album which I still love) Gerry found all aspects of fame uncomfortable, even performing live, and concentrated on being a creative musician right up till the end.

Unfortunately we are into "X Factor" season which is already dominating Saturday nights on ITV. We'll have to wait till the end of September/beginning of October till "Strictly Come Dancing" arrives on our screens. If I can be bothered, I'll do weekly write-ups of SCD then. But only if I can be bothered of course. (Last weekend there was a launch show, which introduced the usual mix of ex soap stars, chat show hosts, ex pop stars and sportsmen to their professional partners).

Anyway back to the entertainment drought which is Saturday nights on ITV. Recently however we broke our boycott to watch "A Night With Will Young" which was basically an hour-long commercial for his new album and a celebration of his (almost) 10 years since winning Pop Idol. Nothing wrong with that: we're not ashamed to say it, we're Will fans here at EuropeCrazy HQ, although he has come a long way since those early days and is probably the best solo artist from this country to come out of any of these talent shows. Although Chico will probably disagree ;)

I didn't see Forbrydelsen, the original Danish-language version of "The Killing" (Channel 4) so can't compare it to the US remake - however it's now being repeated on BBC Four and ends this week. Ive been recording it and will catch up eventually...Anyway back to the American version. Critics may not love it, but I've been well impressed and have consistently watched it week after week, although with two episodes to go I understand that all the unanswered questions won't be answered at the end of the season??? Loving Holder (Joel Kinnaman) though. He should get his own spin-off show.

It's not on TV at the moment in this country, but I thought I'd mention Season 1 of "Damages" from a few years back. I borrowed it from from faithful travelling companion and have been watching over recent weeks. As with "The Killing" it's one of those shows which piles on the red herrings, keeps the tension coming and always leaves you wanting more. It's also quite a demanding show thanks to the flashbacks/flash-forwards, which along with the double -crossing are a necessary part of what makes this show so special. I wonder if season 4 will ever be shown in the UK?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Retro Saturday: Wales Special!

In the words of one of the 1980s most hideous hits by Charlene, "I've never been to me". Now what does that have to do with this week's Retro Saturday, I hear you ask. Well it's just a silly link to introduce this week's trip back through musical history. For I have never been to...Wales, (although if a certain person reading this has their way, that won't be the case for too much longer!!!) anyway this week's Retro Saturday is inspired by that conversation last week about Welsh music and how many bands/singers could you name, which immediately jogged my memory...

Of course no Welsh retrospective is complete without Tom Jones, who had his own musical revival at the end of the '90s with the "Reload" album which gave us "Burning Down The House" with the fab Cardigans and who could forget his duet with Mousse T - Sex Bomb:

Then there is the legend that is Green Gartside, the main man behind Scritti Politti, = the most beautiful man of the 1980s and underrated musical genius -
"Perfect Way" -
"Absolute" -
"Boom There She Was" -
(from the brilliant "Provision" album, which, along with the Pet Shop Boys, kept me sane through the college years :)))

Young Marble Giants
No video, but just wallow in the minimalistic....minimalism of it all, and the understated brilliance of Alison Statton.
"Wurlitzer Jukebox" -
"Include Me Out" -

The Manic Street Preachers are IMHO the best band ever to come out of Wales, and their long career will soon be commemorated with the release of an extensive best-of compilation.
"La Tristesse Durera" -
"Revol" -
"A Design For Life" -

During that late 80s/early 90s period of classic dance music, one Welsh act made their name - K-Klass rose to fame with hits like "Rhythm is a Mystery" -

Welsh acts reached their peak during the Britpop era, a period of music which will always have fond memories for me. Catatonia had their finest hour with "Mulder and Scully" cashing in on X Files mania.... and then Cerys Matthews teamed up with the (non-Welsh) Space (another fab underrated combo from that time) to pay tribute to the one and only Tom Jones!

Super Furry Animals also enjoyed their finest moments during the glory days of Britpop, my favourites being "Play It Cool" and "Demons"

Goldie Lookin' Chain provided much hilarity with "Guns Don't Kill People Rappers Do" and went on to carve out a career as list-show talking heads and Celeb BB contestants - "I seen it on a documentary on BBC2" lol :)))

Finally, one of the obvious answers to "name some Welsh singers" - Charlotte Church, who initially achieved fame as an opera star and then became more famous
She did however make a couple of decent tracks during her short-lived pop career - "Crazy Chick" - and my favourite, the underrated "Moodswings (To Come At Me Like That)" -

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Retro Saturday: The Alarm

You may (or probably may not) ask yourself what makes me choose the songs/singers for Retro Saturday. Sometimes it's just a song which pops into my head, other times it's a "do you remember that song/band?" conversation.

During a conversation with faithful travelling companion earlier today he mentioned The Alarm and I immediately said "that's one for Retro Saturday!"

"68 Guns" from 1983 was their biggest hit in the UK charts, but they came to my attention before that with "The Stand" which is probably my favourite song of theirs.

And let's not forget "Rain in the Summertime": and "Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke"

By the way, that conversation this morning also gave me an idea for a Retro Saturday special - check back here same time next Saturday night :)

Retro Saturday: Cajsalisa Ejemyr

I first heard "Alla Behöver Nån (Nångång)" by Cajsalisa Ejemyr a few years ago now, but it has stayed fresh and I never get bored with it. Here is a clip of her doing the song on TV4 back in 1999.

Cajsalisa also competed in Melodifestivalen 1997 with Du Gör Mig Hel Igen which was written by the one and only Robyn! A bit of a nervous performance and maybe the song might have done better if Robyn herself had performed it? Or maybe not.

Retro Saturday: Anders Glenmark

Almost 4 years ago to the day, I wrote an appreciative post about Gemini, the duo comprised of Swedish brother and sister Anders and Karin Glenmark, who enjoyed success in the 1980s:

In that post I wrote "some day I'll do something on this blog about Anders, as he does indeed merit a blog post of his own." I never did get around to that post, so let's sort that. I've recently got into watching 80s Melodifestivalen clips which fill the gap nicely till 'on-season' starts again....anyway I recently came across "Det är mitt liv - det är jag" which he wrote and sang at Melodifestivalen 1981. The song placed 4th out of the 5 finalists that year: Of course the Melodifestivalen of 30 years ago was a long long way from the MF of today, but I still miss the orchestra and the backing singers etc etc.....

The Anders Glenmark of 1981 didn't have the distinctive vocal style we associate with him - but that was in evidence by 1984 when he returned to MF, this time alongside his sister Karin, and chalked up yet another 4th place with "Kall Som Is". They look like a couple of bank clerks who dropped by the SVT studio on their lunch break, but hey, it's the 80s!

Ask anyone outside Sweden who Anders Glenmark is, and outwith the Swedish pop lovers/Melodifestivalen fans/Abba fan community it would be fair to say that most people will not have heard of him. But listen to the chorus of that massive 80s hit "One Night In Bangkok" by Murray Head - that's Anders Glenmark singing!

Anders' biggest commercial success came in the late 80s and early 90s with hits like "Hon har blommor i sitt hår" and "Greyhound Bus" and even a further attempt at Melodifestivalen in 1989 with "Upp över mina öron" this time duetting with Orup. They came 2nd with what was in my opinion one of the best MF songs ever, and the duo went on to form a successful musical partnership along with Niklas Strömstedt, as Glenmark Eriksson Strömstedt (GES). The trio recorded the 1994 World Cup song for the Swedish football team. As World Cup anthems go, this is one of the best ever - maybe because it's not a boring old traditional football song, but it's a perfect musical snapshot of three Swedish musicians in their prime. Over the years Anders Glenmark had not just become an accomplished singer/songwriter but had also established a very specific production style which carried on through his own work and that of GES. I featured "När Vi Gräver Guld I USA" on the blog before, but it's always nice to revisit an old favourite:

I don't know what Anders is doing musically these days. The last we heard of him was 5 years ago, as co-writer (with Niklas Strömstedt) of Magnus Carlsson's Melodifestivalen entry, the distinctively Glenmark-styled "Lev Livet" I hope that one day, Anders Glenmark will come back and make music again.