Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Show #135 May 23, 2015

The Finland Show is dedicated to Josephine Geraldine!

Josephine Geraldine- Ben's Diapers Middle Eights For Modern Lovers 
Full Moon Turn My Head Around- Off Broadway On 
Seven Days a Week- Nick Piunti Beyond The Static 
Feel Like Dirt- Kevin K Band Rule The Heart 
Run Now- Tommy Keene Songs From The Film 
Spend the Night- The Sonics This Is The Sonics 
Baby It's You- Phil Seymour Archives Series Vol 1 
Take A Life- Dirty Looks Dirty Looks 
^Vuonna '85- Eppu Normaali Vuonna '85 
Every Boy and Every Girl- Sylvain Sylvain Sylvain Sylvain 
Nearly Human- The Rezillos Zero 
*Dead By X'Mas- Hanoi Rocks Self Destruction Blues 
*Spotlight. Now!- Hundred Million Martians Marsbars 
*So Much For You- Jalla Jalla Crumelur/Jalla Jalla 
*Tapan Aikaa- Problems? Tapan Aikaa 
*Astraaliprojektio- Kaupungin Valot Huomiseen 
*Kirjoituksia kellarista- Kollaa Kestaa Kirjoituksia kellarista 7
*Stereo- The Sugarrush Mirrorball Ballerinas 
*Save Rock 'n' Roll- The Flaming Sideburns Sky Pilots 
*I Know- The Splits LP II 
Slowdown- Farrah Farrah 
Is There Someone Out There?- Z-Cars This Is Z-Cars 7" EP 
Whoever's Around- Linus Of Hollywood Something Good 
Love Letter- Richie Parsons Honey and Tears 
Shimmy, Shimmy- Jo Allen And The Shapes 415 Music 
Secret Ride- The Bye Bye Blackbirds We Need The Rain 
>Get On- Hurriganes Get On 
Until I Get You- Hanoi Rocks Back to the Mystery City

^Power Pop Peak:  #1 on Finnish Charts January 1986

*SacroSet:  Finland Rock and Roll

>Power Pop Prototype:  1974 

Sweden and Norway have given the world lots of great rock and roll over the years.  Back in August 2010, Show #38 featured the music of Sweden and the following year Norway got the star treatment in Show #62.  So, fellow Nordic country Finland's time in the spotlight is way past due.  Part of the reason for the delay is that unlike Sweden and Norway, far fewer Finnish bands have cultivated international appeal,
Hanoi Rocks
and most of those who have play heavy metal (HIM, Nightwish, 69 Eyes, Children of Bodom, etc.)  Another factor is that many Finnish artists choose to sing in their native language rather than switch to English in a grab for international fame.  Hanoi Rocks may have started a trend of singing in English in the 1980's (inspiring many of the aforementioned metal bands) but most of their top selling countrymen still sing in Finnish.  (I've written about Hanoi Rocks before, most recently in the post for Show #123 last summer.) 

"Speedo" Matinez (center)
While Hanoi Rocks was an obvious starting point for this show, finding the rest of the artists took some research. Over the years I've seen numerous records by Helsinki garage rockers Flaming Sideburns in stores, often wondering why one of the dudes looks Latino.  Turns out lead singer Jorge Eduardo "Speedo" Martinez  is an Argentinian expatriate.  Cousin Rich hipped me to Hundred Million Martians from Turku, Finland a few years back and he also supplied tonight's Yalla Yalla song.  The rest of it required some deeper digging.  

One great find is the 1979 song "Kirjoi- tuksia Kellarista" by the band Kollaa Kestaa.  The song title translates into "Writings From The Basement" and the band's name has a cool origin.  In the Battle of Kollaa during the Winter War of 1940 outnumbered Finnish forces were defending against a Soviet attack.  When asked by his superior, "Will Kollaa hold? (Kestääkö Kollaa?)", Lieutenant Aarne Juutilainen replied, "Kollaa will hold (Kollaa kestää), unless the orders are to run away."  According to Wikipedia, "this simple question and reply entered the Finnish lexicon as an expression of perseverance and resolve in the face of impending difficulty or crisis."  Kollaa Kestaa are a very influential group in Finland.  In fact, Kaupungin Valot ("City Lights") from tonight's show are named after a Kollaa Kestaa song.

The Legendary "Tapan Aikaa" Sleeve
Another Finnish record I turned up is by a band who chose the English name Problems?  Their 1979 single "Tapan Aikaa" ("Killing Time" or the more literal and my preferred translation "I'll Kill Time") is awesome and the picture sleeve is so iconic it was used on the cover of one of the Power Pearls compilations a few years back.  At this very minute in Seattle and Portland alone there are about 100 dudes aping the style of the guy on the cover of "Tapan Aikaa."  (I can't say I blame them- if I could pull it off I probably would too.)

Of all the bands I researched for this show, the one with the most interesting back story is Eppu Normaali.  Coming together in 1976 in Ylöjärvi, a suburb of Tampere in southern Finland, the band's name came from one of my favorite movies when I was a kid.  Here's what Wikipedia says:  

The band took its name from Mel Brooks' movie Young Frankenstein, and the subtitler translated the name Abby Normal (abnormal) into Eppu Normaali (epänormaali, roughly 'abnormal'; a Finnish equivalent of the original play on words).

Eppu Normaali's first album Aknepop (no translation necessary) is pretty standard three chord punk that sounds good at first but gets a little tiring since I can't understand a word singer Martti Syrjä is barking at me.  By the early 80's Syrja is actually singing (still in Finnish, of course) and the songs sound much more polished and commercial, a mix of Power Pop and mainstream rock.  Then an amazing thing happens; between
1984 and 1986 the band releases a trio of smash hit albums that sell over 300,000 copies in Finland- which by my calculations represents about 6% of the country's population at the time.
  1985's Kahdeksas Ihme (Eighth Wonder) includes tonight's Power Pop Peak "Vuonna '85" ("In The Year '85") which is still in regular rotation on Finnish radio today.  The band is still going strong, releasing their most recent album Mutala in 2011.

Eppu Normaali Today
Eppu Normaali is Finland's top selling recording artist of all time... and to think they started as a punk rock band!  What's more, four of five members have been in the group since 1976.  They are on their third bass player and that's it for turnover in nearly 40 years!  Maybe it's just me, but in our cynical market-driven times, I find Eppu Normaali's story inspiring.  I've been trying to think of an American equivalent but there just isn't one- maybe if Green Day can hang in there for ten more years!

(I couldn't resist one last "I"gor photo)
Click on the links below to stream tonight's show or to download, right click and "Save Link As"
Hour 2

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