25: The Very Best Of - Deluxe Edition CD+DVD, Box set
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A double-CD collection celebrating the retirement, after 25 years, of what was once dismissed as a little more than a prototype Norwegian boy band seems like an overambitious concept. That’s until one remembers that the Norwegian trio have sold in excess of 35 million records. But their early rush of pop brilliance and their consequently powerful association with a young audience – Morten Harket was, after all, the man who inspired a generation of teenagers to wear suede leather bracelets – mean that some ‘grew out of’ a-ha, and critics turned their back. By 1991 they might have been playing to the biggest audience of paying fans ever recorded – a staggering 198,000, at Rock in Rio II – but the story went virtually unreported, a disappointment so crushing the band went on hiatus.
They reunited in 1998, wiser and more mature, something reflected in their new music, and a 2005 singles compilation released on their 20th anniversary saw them return to the UK top 20. This latest attempt to exploit their catalogue, 25 – The Very Best Of, is therefore an enlightening affair, proof that though they rarely repeated the pure immediacy of Take on Me or The Sun Always Shines on TV, nor the ambitious drama of I’ve Been Losing You or 1987’s James Bond theme, The Living Daylights, a-ha remained capable of crafting mature pop. In fact, this thorough 39-song survey leads one to the unexpected conclusion that they were the Coldplay of their generation, accomplished at writing songs that carried an emotional depth capable of reaching out across arenas. Dark Is the Night for All is an uplifting piece of mid-paced stadium rock with a gentle heart, Velvet is a lush tearjerker that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Morcheeba record, while final single, Butterfly, Butterfly, sees them return to their synth-pop roots with added grandeur, sounding not unlike Pet Shop Boys with choirboy vocals.
Inevitably, though, over two and a half hours of a-ha things start to sag, as they would with many artists, and that seems a shame. These three Norwegians have more than earned a status approaching iconic, and recent gestures – they’ve given away over £400,000 in grants to developing Norwegian artists this year – prove that music was always a far greater driving force in their careers than fame and teenage adulation. But few people listen to full albums anymore, so this is better thought of as a well-earned condensed encyclopaedia into which to dip than a simple retrospective collection. Either way, respect is due, and 25 provides more than room enough for that.--Wyndham Wallace
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Top Customer Reviews
Undoubtedly a sad day in the calendar, but this hugely talented trio will be bowing out on a high note. Last year, in "Foot of the Mountain", they released one of their finest albums, proving it was possible to be both contemporary and retro. This year, fans have been rather spoilt: Comprehensive 2-CD remasters of their first two albums ("Hunting High and Low" and "Scoundrel Days"), an updated version of Jan Omdahl's insightful book "The Swing of Things", a brand new single, and now this compilation album.
"25" is actually a-ha's third compilation album, following 1991's "Headlines and Deadlines" and "The Definitive Singles 1984-2004", but this is easily the most comprehensive, and it has been lovingly put together by reissue specialists Rhino Records. The only gripe I have is the band's chunky new logo on the aquatic cover, but this doesn't detract from what is a highly recommended retrospective.
Across the two discs, every remastered track (including some rare radio edits and mixes of singles) has been presented in chronological order, with the exception of "The Blood that Moves the Body" - this remix was used to further promote "Headlines and Deadlines" in 1992, and appears here for the first time in album format. Fan (and band) favourites "The Blue Sky", "The Swing of Things", "There's Never a Forever Thing" and "Slender Frame" have also been added, giving further weight to the claim that a-ha were more than just a singles act.
Each of a-ha's nine studio albums are well represented here, allowing listeners to trace their musical development.Read more ›
If you love catchy but adult widescreen pop with a melancholic slant and some epic, haunting melodies, then this really is highly recommended. Non a-ha fans too will be surprised at the depth, range and quality of the songs.
This album really is a piece of music history and if you have never bought an A-ha album before then it gives you a true slice of the band with not just the singles but album songs as well. The album features edited single versions and remixes which would even appeal to the veteran fan. There are 5 songs from the 1st two albums, 6 songs from the third, 4 songs from the fourth, fifth and sixth, 3 from the seventh, 3 from the eighth, 3 songs from the ninth and final album and the farewell single, which is very melancholy and emotionally stirring for the longer term fans. I think it's a brilliant song to say goodbye.
From the early days of deep 80's synth pop all the way to the modern nostalgic electro of their final album and final single this 2 CD album takes us along the journey of the bands development.Read more ›
Whoever remastered the videos has made "odd" edits to the music tracks so for example, the video of "The Sun Always Shines On TV" which always used the 7" single version now uses an odd edit of the album version as it's soundtrack. Your average punter wouldn't notice but to a fan it sticks out a mile. Also Rhino have carelessly inserted a video of the "Star Spangled Banner" after the aforementioned track, a video which has NOTHING to do with A-ha at all - the quality control department must have been asleep that day. You can skip it but why on Earth is it on there? Also whilst it's nice to see the original 1984 version of "Take On Me" it's disappointing that quality videos like "Cry Wolf", "The Living Daylights" and even the inane "Touchy" are conspicuous by their absence. Even "Hunting High And Low" is missing. So it's a missed opportunity by Rhino to provide a complete one-stop package for fans and anybody who may be curious about the band's work. Still it's only another two quid so you may as well go for the deluxe version.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of my fave 80's pop bands,this is the deluxe version wich has 2 cds and one dvd and comes in a fatbox style jewel case.Published 6 months ago by bullet45
When back in 2010 a-ha announced their split, I was gutted and happy at the same time. Gutted because one of my favourite bands would be no more; and happy because not many would... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Scarlet Jupiter