For Whose Advantage Europe (Wounded Bird) 1983

1. In the Future to Come (5:01)
2. Farewell (4:00)
3. Seven Doors Hotel (5:16)
4. King Will Return (5:34)
5. Boyazont [instrumental] (2:31)
6. Children of This Time (4:54)
7. Words of Wisdom (4:04)
8. Paradize Bay (3:52)
9. Memories (4:33)

Europe are one of those bands that just never struck an immediate chord with me. My introduction to them was, of course, "The Final Countdown". Being a dedicated heavy metal fan in the 80's, "The Final Countdown" always struck me as "chick rock". It just wasn't something a guy into Maiden and Celtic Frost would be interested in. Over the years since building this site, Europe is one of the bands many people have questioned me about, asking why they weren't part of my collection. Many of them explained to me that the self titled album and "Wings of Tomorrow" are much less poppy and would probably appeal to me. My answer would usually be, "so many CDs, so little money", which in the case of Europe meant, I'm just not interested enough in this band to spend money on their CDs. The thing about it is, I have invested in CDs by guitarist John Norum, as I've found much to like about his solo material. Well, one Europe fan took it upon himself to purchase a copy of Europe's debut for me.

This self-titled debut album from Europe, originally released in 1983, has eight songs and one instrumental titled "Boyazont." For the most part, the music is just straight forward, melodic hard rock/heavy metal. Unlike more popular albums such as "The Final Countdown" and "Out of the World", the debut is less glossy and over produced. While keyboards are part of the mix here, they are not the main ingredient, leaving Norum's guitar work some breathing room. "Boyazont" is a great instrumental and example of why I found Norum's solo work so interesting. Europe were fans of Thin Lizzy, UFO and Deep Purple. While those influences are nearly lost on later albums, on this early work some of that grandiose classic rock style is present. Frankly, songs like "Seven Doors Hotel", "Farwell" and "Children of This Time" wouldn't have been out of place wouldn't have been out of place on a Diamond Head album. As well, the band adds elements of progressive rock. "Seven Doors Hotel" in particular is slightly progressive with some majestic piano work.

Europe's debut may not be their biggest seller or their most popular album, but album sales do not automatically equal good music. Frankly, I far prefer this straight forward hard rock and heavy metal to the glossy pop of their hit records. (Thanks Vexor6)

Wings of Tomorrow Europe - Wings of Tomorrow (Wounded Bird) 1984

1. Stormwind (4:30)
2. Scream Of Anger (4:06)
3. Open Your Heart (4:08)
4. Treated Bad Again (3:45)
5. Aphasia [instrumental] (2:32)
6. Wings Of Tomorrow (3:58)
7. Wasted Time (4:07)
8. Lyin' Eyes (3:47)
9. Dreamer (4:25)
10. Dance The Night Away (3:36)

Europe's sophomore release was more of the same from their debut, only better. This is the last real metal album the band would record before jumping head long into cheesy, radio, keyboard heavy, pop rock. Who would ever think that Europe would record a double bass driven rocker? "Wings of Tomorrow" has fast, heavy barnstormers like "Scream of Anger" and "Lyin' Eyes", melodic numbers like "Stormwind", an instrumental titled "Aphasia, the obligatory ballads, "Open Your Heart" and "Dreamer" and plenty of mid-paced metal numbers like "Treated Bad Again", "Wasted Time" and the title track. The title track is easily as catchy as any of the schlock on the bands' follow up. "Dance the Night Away" finishes off the album and is a rocker that is heavily inspired by Thin Lizzy and Gary Moore.

As with the debut, I still hear a lot of that NWOBHM sound in Europe. At times, vocalist Joey Tempest reminds me of Diamond Head's Sean Harris. However, it's not just the vocals, even some of the riffs have the 80's European heavy metal vibe. Had a galloping song like "Wasted Time" or "Dance the Night Away" been recorded by Diamond Head, Tokyo Blade or Tygers of Pan Tang, no one would have been the wiser. Due to the more gutsy rock nature of this album, guitarist John Norum is given plenty of shred time on this one. "Wings of Tomorrow" is just an outstanding release and displays such massive potential for more explosive heavy metal. Cool cover to boot. It's sort of mind boggling imagining what Europe could have done it if they had continued in a heavier vein, rather than going for the pop/radio sound.

Wisdom Call covered "Wings of Tomorrow".

The Final Countdown Europe - The Final Countdown (Epic) 1986

1.    The Final Countdown (5:11)
2.    Rock the Night (4:04)
3.    Carrie (4:31)
4.    Danger on the Track (3:46)
5.    Ninja (3:47)
6.    Cherokee (4:13)
7.    Time has Come (4:01)
8.    Heart of Stone (3:47)
9.    On the Loose (3:09)
10.  Love Chaser (3:28)

Swedish rockers Europe score a big major label deal and jump head long into what can best be described as wuss rock! The album produced five singles: "The Final Countdown", "Carrie", "Love Chaser", "Rock the Night" and "Cherokee", the first two being huge hits everywhere. In the Summer of '86 there was no escaping the sappy balladry of "Carrie" or the synth-pop-rocker "The Final Countdown". The title track was a massive hit for the band, and would be blasted from speakers in hockey barns across the globe. The lyrics to the song were inspired by David Bowie's "Space Oddity", while the keyboard hook of the song was actually an old riff that vocalist Joey Tempest had written five years earlier. Twenty five years later and the song is still on regular rotation on rock radio stations. The album itself is stacked full of ornate 80's-style keyboards and sparsely peppered with some fine axework, the guitars themselves taking a backseat to the keyboards. The production is a product of technology; the rock 'n' roll simply stripped away for something that is glossy, gutless and shamelessly commercial. The album is nothing like the meaty, NWOBHM-inspired albums the band had previously recorded. Heavy metal and hard rock fans shook their heads in disbelief while the masses of Journey & Bon Jovi fans tuned in to their local radio stations and MTV and rejoiced that they had new juke box heroes. The only song that really even remotely rocks being the upbeat "On the Loose" which features a fret-burning guitar solo from John Norum. "The Final Countdown" is made-for-the-masses pop rock and nothing more. The album was a huge commercial success selling over 3 million units in the United States alone, peaking at number 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts. Years later estimates of nearly 10 million worldwide. Eight of the ten tracks on "The Final Countdown" were featured in the 2007 movie "Hot Rod". So despite my distaste for this album, millions of other people would obviously disagree with me.

Out of this World Europe - Out of this World (Epic) 1988

1.   Superstitious (4:35)
2.   Let the Good Times Rock (4:04)
3.   Open Your Heart (4:05)
4.   More Than Meets the Eye (3:21)
5.   Coast to Coast (4:01)
6.   Ready or Not (4:04)
7.   Sign of the Times (4:15)
8.   Just the Beginning (4:32)
9.   Never Say Die (4:01)
10. Lights and Shadows (4:03)
11. Tower's Callin' (3:50)
12. Tomorrow (3:04)

With "Out of this World" Europe continue down the road of the lightest of lightweight, cheesiest of cheesy, wimpy, keyboard-infested, 1980's pop rock. The band tries to add a bit of heaviness and toughness on songs such as "Let the Good Times Rock" and "Ready or Not", but the heavy guitar tone is all but drowned out by poppy keyboards. Ballads abound. The production is so slick it robs the rock and roll right out of the band. If this is heavy metal or hard rock, then all the edge has been sanded off leaving it smooth, lifeless and without a hint of danger. Joey Tempest's vocals are out in front with guitars buried behind layers of keys and the vocals. Basically "Out of this World" sounds more like American, made-to-order, pop rock. At least "Final Countdown" still had the European bend to it. File with Def Leppard's "Hysteria".

"Out of this World" sold well, but no where near as much as "Final Countdown". The single "Superstitious" was the first single from the album and made the Top 40 charts across the globe. It was the only single to chart in the U.S. However, the album was a big seller across Europe.

Prisoners of Paradise Europe - Prisoners in Paradise (Epic) 1991

1.      All or Nothing (3:55)
2.      Halfway to Heaven (4:07)
3.      I'll Cry for You (5:21)
4.      Little Bit of Lovin' (4:48)
5.      Talk to Me (4:07)
6.      Seventh Sign (4:43)
7.      Prisoners in Paradise (5:37)
8.      Bad Blood (4:20)
9.      Homeland (4:51)
10.     Got Your Mind in the Gutter (5:00)
11.     Until My Heart Beats Down Your Door (3:48)
12.     Girl from Lebanon (4:21)

I liked the first two Europe albums. They were pure hard rock/heavy metal albums without the sickening, keyboard-laced attempts at radio pop that would follow. That follow-up, of course, gave the band a huge hit in the title track, "Final Countdown". (Triple platinum in the U.S. alone!) However, that album, in my opinion, is a product of the times and sounds incredibly dated two decades later. In short, I'd describe it as frilly priss rock, sappy ballads and keyboard overkill! With the band's fifth album they return to their hard rock roots, forcing the guitars to be up front and the keyboards to be buried in the mix. The album is still quite melodic, but doesn't have that same pop feel that the previous two albums had. However, the band has also lost that European feel that they had formerly, with the possible exceptions of "Girl From Lebanon" and "Seventh Sign". Overall, "Prisoners in Paradise" sounds very American. The influence of American producer Beau Hill is evident on this release. The other factor in the newer sound is the fact that Joey Tempest does not undertake the songwriting exclusively. Frankly, I like it. The album has an edge and as might be expected, the guitar solos are very good. Of course the album has the obligatory ballad, "I'll Cry for You". The song is tailor made for the radio and could have been a hit. "Homeland" is a bluesy number, something that was quite common for band's of Europe's ilk around this time. I personally would have liked it if they had explored more of this. "Prisoners" may not be exactly a raging European heavy metal platter, but it does have a lot more ca-hones than any of their more recent albums and is a good listen.

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