POP RESCUE: ‘Happy Nation’ by Ace Of Base (CD, 1993)


Today’s POP RESCUE is the 15 track 1993 debut album Happy Nation (US Version) by the group Ace Of Base.

Ace Of Base - Happy Nation (US Version) (1993) albumAce Of Base have always been a group that I’ve been aware of, but not purchased any music from. Even their big hit, which opens this album, managed to avoid my cash.

All That She Wants – their second single and first big hit, is a fantastic track. I remember it being released – it’s reggae style completely stood out amongst the rest of the chart at the time, and this therefore helped people notice it. It’s a simple uncluttered track, and it works perfectly.

Next up is the Tina Turner cover (it was a b-side but who knew?), Don’t Turn Around which became the sixth single from the album. It feels sympathetic to the Aswad version that went to #1 in 1988. Ace Of Base’s version reached #5 in the UK singles chart.

Third track Young And Proud is very electronic and actually reminds me of something that Erasure might have recorded. Swap Linn Berggren‘s vocals for Andy Bell‘s, and I’m sure it they’d feel right at home.

Fifth single The Sign is up next, and is one of their biggest and most well-known hits. Again, we’re in a reggae style, and combined with the vocals of Linn and Jenny, this feels like a perfect summertime track.

Living In Danger is a catchy track, and made the groups 7th and final single from the album. Musically and vocally, it’s probably the best track so far, but this song completely passed me by when it was released in the UK in 1994. It reached #18.

Following this is Voulez-Vous Danser which is a very house/dance track, and it’s here that Linn’s vocals don’t really feel suited. Title track and third single, Happy Nation turns out to be more like Dreary Nation, as it plods along slowly.

Things improve with Hear Me Calling which feels much more up-beat and alive, and could easily sit alongside other tracks from the same year.

A remix of their fourth single, Waiting For Magic (Total Remix 7″) follows, opening with some Italia house pianos, and it does have a slightly different style to it. It’s hard to imagine that it’s the same people who did All That She Wants.

This is followed by Fashion Party, which may well have sounded great amongst the likes of 2 Unlimited and Culture Beat back in 1993, but now – here in 2014 – it sounds very dated and at times awkward and dull.

Thankfully the lead single Wheel Of Fortune comes along, and it’s a return to good form. This is followed by Dancer In A Daydream which is also pretty catchy, and feels at home here on this album.

My Mind (Mindless Mix) is the 13th track on the album, and to be honest, I’ve re-titled it ‘Pointless Mix’ in my head. It’s dreadful, and I couldn’t sit through all 4 minutes. ‘Everybody, everywhere – dance or fade out’ vocals command us. I’ll opt for fade out.

An odd addition to this album is All That She Wants (Banghra Version). I’m certainly not a Banghra aficionado, but this really doesn’t sound like a Banghra version of the track. I don’t know why Swedish group Ace Of Base would bother with this. What would have been more interesting, would be an acoustic or piano version… but on a separate album. 

Billed as ‘bonus track’ is the 15th and final song here – Happy Nation (Remix). It’s a slight improvement on the standard version that’s featured earlier on in the album, but nothing revolutionary.

Despite this being one of the biggest selling albums in history, it feels a bit flat to me outside of All That She Wants, and The Sign. It’s too long, and could easily have lost 5 tracks to make a nice pop 10 track album. I guess, that back in 1993 it would have felt somewhat fresher, but here in 2014, it’s just an awkward listen.

It might have sold around 23 million copies since its release, but my copy will be going back into the wild.

where are Ace Of Base now?

Ace Of Base continued to have a successful career with albums and singles, culminating in a best of/greatest hits in 1999 and 2000. After this, the group’s success faded, and sisters Linn and Jenny eventually departed, leaving Joker and Buddha.

Rumours of a reunion often surface but they are yet to confirm any plans.

POP RESCUE RATING

  • POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 2 / 5
  • 1993 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified 2x Platinum.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.50 from a Scope store.

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