A-HA - THE ALBUMS 1985 - 2022


 "HUNTING HIGH AND LOW"

1985


TAKE ON ME - The band's debut album opens with the classic 80s track and unmistakeable Synth Pop intro.  Loved this song instantly on first listen and was then hooked on A-ha and Morten Harket's incredible vocal range.  The track finally charted after a couple of attempts and reached number 2 in the UK charts.  Its accompanying video was groundbreaking using animated and live action scenes sequenced together.  A masterpiece.


TRAIN OF THOUGHT - The third UK single release and reached number 8 in the chart and was their third successive top ten hit.  This has a typical Synth Pop fast paced drumbeat with a surprisingly slow tempo vocal by Morten, showing off his complete range in the song.  It grows on you after a couple of listens.

HUNTING HIGH AND LOW - A beautiful slow minimal ballad reaching an anthemic, operatic crescendo to finish.  Great emotionally charged vocals and a captivating backing.

THE BLUE SKY - At just over two and a half minutes this probably could be considered a "filler".  Its a nice, upbeat poppy track but doesn't really grab you like the previous tracks.

LIVING A BOY'S ADVENTURE TALE - An almost dramatic musical score, it is typical Electronic Pop.  A decent song but not one of my favourites.

THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON TV- Another memorable intro opens this second UK single that finally hit the top spot in the chart.  One of my favourite A-ha songs.  It is a great blend of Pop, Synth Pop and Rock.  I loved the rockier sound which they took to a higher level gradually on the next few albums.  Awesome track.


AND YOU TELL ME - This track is under two minutes long and is a whimsical, minimal offering Morten to sing almost unaccompanied.  I would suggest this be taken as a "filler" also!

LOVE IS REASON - Released in a couple of countries as a single, this track is a catchy New Wave/Europop hybrid that is quirky enough to keep the attention.  

DREAM MYSELF ALIVE - A somewhat repetitive Synth Pop track in the style of Erasure, maybe.  Its not a bad song just needs a bit more "oomph" to hit the heights of other great A-ha tracks.

HERE I STAND AND FACE THE RAIN - The album ends with this unusual track.  It has a mystical vibe about it with some choral chants and a very dark musical backing.  Great end to the debut album.



"SCOUNDREL DAYS"

1986


SCOUNDREL DAYS - The opener on this, the band's second album laid the groundwork for the rest of the album.  Whereas the debut, "Hunting High And Low" was pure Electronic Pop, this sequel was a more mature rockier sound.  This first track was like a New Wave/Synth Rock hybrid.  Atmospheric, a variety of vocal ranges from lead singer Morten Harket and quite a lot going on if you listen closely.  A great start.

THE SWING OF THINGS - Another brilliant experimental track, Electro Pop with a funky background and some twangy Country guitars at times.  Its almost a ballad, it shouldn't work but it does.  An absolute gem, one of my favourite songs by the band.

I'VE BEEN LOSING YOU - The lead single from the album and its a cracker.  Sounding nothing like the previous album, this was the Pop Rock sound that was to come in the next few albums.  Great harmonies merge with crashing drums and guitars with an uptempo rhythm.  These guys were not just pretty poster boys, they could play and write some fantastic songs, this is one of them. Awesome.
 
 

OCTOBER - The pace slows down dramatically with this Jazz style track.  Morten delivers a breathy vocal which echoes the chilly atmospheric tone of the song.  Its nice, its not one of my favourites but it shows there are options for this trio to explore mro genres.

MANHATTAN SKYLINE -  This is one of those masterpiece compositions.  Its a gentle, brash, gentle, brash kind of to and fro song.  Moments of melancholy and softness merge weirdly into crashing guitars and drums and a moody, angry vocal.  This is Pop Rock at its best, its almost like a strange Scandinavian Electro Progressive Rock mix.  Fabulous.
 


CRY WOLF - The closest track on this album that matches the catchy Synth Pop styles of "Hunting High And Low".  It's fun, it's a bit mad, and it's a definite sing along tune.  Especially the "woo woo" chorus.  It is classic early A-ha, and a hint that the fun Pop music of the likes of "Take On Me" hasn't gone completely far away even though the band were maturing musically.

WE'RE LOOKING FOR THE WHALES - A bouncy, Electronic Pop track, uplifting, melancholic, and an easy listen.  I really like this, it is different, a catchy chorus and its got an unusual, engaging rhythm.

THE WEIGHT OF THE WIND - A typically 80s Pop Rock song, its an ok song, has some great moments but is missing something to really grab you.  A disappointment on this superb album.

MAYBE, MAYBE - A two and a half minute chirpy, quirky Synth Pop track that Erasure would be proud of.  Its a little repetitive but you can't help but love it.  Its very simple, its very twee but it grows on you.

SOFT RAINS OF APRIL - The final track is a beautiful sounding track that has some Psychedelic 60s Rock ballad vibe.  Its eerie, spaced out kind of sound has you completely engulfed.  Its weird but its good. 



"STAY ON THESE ROADS"
 
1988

 

 
STAY ON THESE ROADS - Fabulous emotive title track reached number 5 in the UK chart and its Everly Brothers, early 60s feel was just brilliant, the A-ha sound had matured with every album and this was a more rockier album.
 
 
 

THE BLOOD THAT MOVES THE BODY This is one of my favourite A-ha songs and has a mysterious feel similar to a James Bond theme with a catchy chorus and orchestrated backing making it a little eerie sounding.  Reached number 25 in the UK chart.

TOUCHY - This could have appeared on both previous albums, it is playful, summery and obviously catchy.  A creditable number 11 on the UK chart.

THIS ALONE IS LOVE - Ultimate Pop ballad, at times reminding me of Pop Rock like The Cars to the electronics of Yazoo.  Morten's vocals are stretched to all levels in this superb track.

HURRY HOME - So unusual, it has a faint hi-nrg beat, almost disco-like but also has funky beats and classic late 80s soft Pop Rock guitars with a singalong chorus.  Experimental but it works!
 
THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS - One of the great James Bond themes in my opinion.   Bond collaborator John Barry released his version as the single but A-ha reworked it for this album and by all accounts preferred their version to his! Class.

THERE'S NEVER A FOREVER THING -  Just a beautiful song, it lilts along with a minimal piano and drumbeat acoustic sound and Morten sings softly and quiet sometimes reaching that famous hgh pitched vocals to give the desired full emotional effect.  A gem of a song.

OUT OF BLUE COMES GREEN -  A-ha being soulful, a six minute epic track which reminds me of "Hunting High And Low" with its low and high vocals, complete with minor searing guitar and minimal keyboards, this is quite an awesome track.

YOU ARE THE ONE - Again another summery Pop single, similar to anything on previous A-ha albums, bright and breezy and minimal.  Reaching number 13 in the UK chart marking yet another top 20 hit.
 
 
YOU'LL END UP CRYING -  Ends the album and is a kind of Latin sounding track, synchronised singing chorus and verses with trumpets and reminds me of Cowboys in Mexico for some reason!



"TRUE NORTH"

2022


I'M IN - The opening track on the band's 11th studio album was also the first single released.  This is an orchestral style, piano led Pop ballad that is full of hope and positivity despite its melancholic sound.  Morten's vocal is as impeccably emotional as ever.  

 

HUNTER IN THE HILLS - This kicks off in some musical based sounds evoking a "thriller movie" imagery.  Has a very orchestral jazzy feel to it.  Unusual for the band but it works.

AS IF - This ia a mid tempo 80s New Wave ballad that almost sounds like Folk with a little Americana thrown in for good measure.  Was the third single released from the album.

BETWEEN THE HALO AND THE THORN - This is almost reminiscent of the band's debut album's slow songs but with a huge orchestral twist.  Still waiting for the rocky quicker song to liven the album up, although a nice relaxing listen so far.

TRUE NORTH - A more familiar sounding A-ha on this title track. The rockier, anthemic, atmospheric ballads that started briefly on "Scoundrel Days" and came in full force on "Stay On These Roads".  As a big A-ha fan this is what I waited for on this album.

BUMBLEBEE - A slightly more upbeat throw back to "Hunting High And Low" with a quirky, bright and breezy track with little snippets of Trip Hop styled beats.

FOREST FOR THE TREES - Another orchestral sounding "movie" like backing, it almost takes off but doesn't quite grab me.  It's a nice enough song but like most of this album, it just needs that extra A-ha sparkle.

BLUEST OF BLUE - Another slow track but I quite like this one, first half is Morten up front and centre with some beautiful vocals then the sparse drums come in.  It has a very 60s Folk Pop sound.  Along with the title track this is a favourite.

MAKE ME UNDERSTAND - Great track, a catchy chorus with a Disco-like beat backing the vocals.  This is more like it, a great crossover Pop Rock track.

YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES - A nice Pop ballad that Morten sings with his usual aplomb.  Was the second single released from the set.  Great vocals intertwine with lush harmonies and melody. 


SUMMER RAIN - Another look back at the previous rockier albums, this is a Pop Rock ballad with a lovely, smooth but eerie backing.  Definitely reminds me of the "Stay On These Roads" days.  Nice.

OH MY WORD - A really lush musical style ballad to finish the album, which I must say the second half of it really kicked up a gear.  This track has a jazzy Folk feel to it and ends the set on a high.





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