Thanks to one of my good local friends, I’ve had Benny Andersson’s new album for well over a week now. The Benny Anderssons Orkester (BAO) has compiled a bunch of songs from their three previous albums and translated a handful of songs originally sung in Swedish into English, and added an all new song and released the album with the intention of releasing it outside the Swedish market. To help make it more readily accessible for the English markets, they’ve even renamed the band for the album calling themselves, the “Benny Andersson Band”
The most successful singles from the previous albums have been sung by Helen Sjöholm. From BAO’s first album, “Vår Sista Dans” topped the Svensktoppen (Swedish language song charts) for 30 weeks of it’s 56 week stay on the chart. It makes it’s official English language debut on “Story Of A Heart” as “(If This Is) Our Last Dance.” The song has been performed in English for the live performances BAO has done outside of Sweden such as Glasgow and Minneapolis, but now fans can officially have a studio recording of the English language version. And from BAO’s second album, “Du Är Min Man” which was originally released on July 11, 2004, and to this day still hasn’t left the Svensktoppen charts, that’s 5 years on the chart, 261 weeks and counting according to Swedish Radio. It is officially the longest charting song in the history of the Svensktoppen list and it also has the distinction of being the longest running song in the number one spot, which it held for its first 38 weeks on the chart. The song makes it’s officially released debut as “You Are My Man” on the album. However, it does have some interesting history as an English language song. Prior to the Minneapolis, Minnesota appearance of BAO, a promo CD containing a recording of the song in English was sent out to the attendees. However, the lyrics to that recording are different from the new lyrics featured here on the officially released album. So the promo CD as a collector’s item retains it’s value. I’m still undecided if I like the new lyrics as featured on the album, I think it could be that I’m just so used to the promo CD’s lyrics that I can’t get into the new ones. In any case, it’s still a welcome addition to the original Swedish version.
Additionally, the album also features wonderful vocals by Tommy Körberg, who’s best know to ABBA fans for his role as the Russian in the original concept album for CHESS and appears in several versions of CHESS throughout the years including the Swedish language production (which also featured Helen Sjöholm). Here on “Story Of A Heart” album, Tommy is featured on two new English language versions of songs that originate from BAO’s third studio album (although technically BAO’s 4th album due to the 3rd album released being a Live album). The first of which is a song entitled “Fait Accompli” (same title in both the original and new English version) and a duet with Helen Sjöholm called “The Stars” (originally “För Dig”). Both songs are reminiscent of a bygone era and add great color to the album.
In addition to the English language versions of songs included from previous albums, a selection of instrumental songs from the previous albums fill out the majority of the album. This is really the heart and soul of the Benny Andersson Band in that the group is mainly collection of sixteen “middle aged men” as Benny likes to call them who perform Swedish folk music in a variety of styles. The vocal tracks add a bit of variety but really only account for five out of the fourteen tracks on the album. The instrumental selections are a great sampling of the variety of music the band performs.
As mentioned above, to round out the album, the Benny Andersson Band recorded a new song for the album. Since the album is getting released outside of Sweden, it was decided the song should be pop flavored so that it would be likely to be picked up for play on radio stations, and hence the title track of the album, “Story Of A Heart” was born. Benny enlisted the help of his ABBA cohort, Björn Ulvaeus to pen the lyrics for the new song. Being billed as their first pop song since the release of Josefin Nilsson’s “Shapes” album in 1993, the song is getting a lot of attention for how ABBA-like the song allegedly sounds. It’s a very catchy song and well sung by the incredibly talented, Helen Sjöholm. As much as it’s being hailed as a new song, I find the lyrics of it to be very reminiscent thematically of the unreleased ABBA song entitled “Just Like That.” Since getting the album, I’ve been unable to stop playing the song. I love it.
And if you happen to get the Swedish pressing of the album, it has an extra track in Swedish entitled, “Sommaren Du Fick” which is the Swedish language version of “Story Of A Heart”. Although an interesting thing is that the running time of the Swedish language version on the album is 40 seconds shorter than the English language version.
There are several options to get a copy of the album, however, the best deal for US residents appears to be from CD-Wow where it can be obtained for $12.99 which includes shipping and handling. Click here to buy the album from CD-WOW.