Since I write every review on this site myself and I only write on my spare-time, there are records that I usually ignore – because there’s only 24 hours in a day. Compilation albums, re-releases, re-recordings and live albums usually never makes it online here. But there are exceptions whenever I see fit. This album is one of those exceptions. Why? Well, because this album has meant shitloads to me since the day it was released back in 1986. I discovered Easy Action in 1984 when they were still a Glam Rock band and featured vocalist Zinny Zan (Shotgun Messiah, Stagman), guitarists Kee Marcello (Europe, Red Fun) and Chris Lind (who called himself Lynn back then), bassist Alex Tyrone (Sha-Boom) and drummer Freddie Von Gerber (who went by the name Van Gerber, also in Red Fun and Rat Bat Blue) because of a documentary / live gig that was sent on Swedish television and I was struck right off the bat.
I bought their debut album, loved it dearly and waited for the follow-up that was about to be recorded. When Marcello dived into the Swedish Metal Aid project, working with Joey Tempest, it stood clear that Easy Action’s singer would be one of the lead singers – but it wasn’t Zinny who would sing but a dude called Tommy Nilsson. What the f**k! No more Zinny? Well, it turned out that Easy Action had decided to go more Melodic Rock and AOR, which was the thing of 1985 and Zinny wasn’t comfortable with that, so he left. But it stood clear that after hearing Nilsson sing on SMA, I really couldn’t complain and when the debut single “Rosie” was released, it was just up my alley. A short, catchy pop-rocker, driven with guitars in focus, a stunning chorus that screamed hit and I was floored again by this band. “Rosie” only became a small hit in Sweden, but at least they had something new out. And I loved Tommy’s voice.
But the new album was nowhere to be found, despite many interviews in Sweden’s only music mag OKEJ where they said it was just about done. Possible album-titles like “Action Louder Than Words” and “Red Roses And White Wine” were also dropped. Then single # 2 came out, a ballad that would be the album’s closing track, called “In The Middle Of Nowhere”, was released. Originally recorded with Zinny for the horrible movie “Blood Tracks”, which featured the band, the song fitted Nilsson way better. It’s a slow, laid-back, soothing tune where Nilsson alters between fragile and strong vocally – it really shows what an amazing singer he is and what an enormous range he has. It’s an atmospheric, gorgeous track with an amazing main-melody and a chorus that grabs a hold from go. Another small hit back then, but not the big breakthrough, which it deserved to be. I was completely lost in the song and longed even more for the new album – an album that never seemed to get a release date. That’s when the next hit came – Alex Tyrone, Marcello’s song-writing partner had jumped ship. The fuck!! Would I ever get a new album from this band?
Around this time, the image started to change as well. While they have changed both singer and musical direction, much of the Glam Rock image was kept, minus the spiky hairdos which had been replaced by more standard long hair but when third single – and what was come to be the album’s opening track – “Talk Of The Town” was released, the glam was gone, replaced by suits and a more AOR-ish outlook. “Talk Of The Town” turned out to be a full-on AOR-track as well. The song came in a mid-tempo, very keyboard oriented and a clear Toto influence but since I had been leaning more and more towards AOR, I didn’t mind one bit. And the song was awesome. Filled with hooks everywhere and a chorus impossible to resist, I was smelling a hit of landslide proportions. A hit it was but again a minor one and maybe it was because it didn’t contain any of the huge “whoa whoa whoa” choruses of the times but a bit more settled. A brilliant track, no matter what.
When the album was finally released – with Nalle Påhlsson (Treat, Therion, Royal Mess), who was then mostly known as a touring bassist for Swedish pop-stars, as the bassist as a non-official member – it came with yet another set-back, the biggest one so far. Kee Marcello – the main song writer, keyboard player, guitarist and producer left to join Europe. Parts of me loved the fact that one of my fave guitarists would finally get the recognition he deserved but the bigger part of me cried because I knew in my heart that by that, Easy Action was over. The band continued a while without Kee but never really got off the ground. Still, I bought the album – and I have loved it to bits since then.
“Talk Of The Town” was followed by another single to be – the raunchy and straight-forward, guitar driven Classic Rock tune “Teachers Do It With Class” which saw Nilsson duetting with Danish dynamite singer Sanne Salomonsen. The style of the song was very unexpected – and to be, honest slightly confusing – and I had some issues with it to begin with but it grew on me fast. Today I love it and it’s a real belter live. The third track “Code To Your Heart” might just be the long lost cousin’s cousin to Journey’s “Be Good To Yourself” – and that’s a compliment. Not a clone at all, it contains uptempo AOR-rock, big on both guitars and keyboards and a steady groove made for an audience jumping up and down to. Of course, the chorus is amazing, so catchy it hurts. If Kee had stayed, had this been another single? It should have – and back in the day, it could very well have provided them with the monster-hit they so yearned for. So awesome.
The power-ballad “Only Love” is another one that could have given the boys a major hit. Landing somewhere between Foreigner and Bon Jovi, it’s the sentimental making out song that could have ended every teenage discotheque night back then. With a strong main-melody, smooth and slick keyboards and a chorus that almost reaches the threshold for syrupy arrangements. What’s not to love, I ask. Always loved the tune. Toto meets Journey when the upbeat AOR-rocker “One In A Million” shows up. With a mighty refrain, a rocking rhythm and a fantastic main-melody, the tune just oozes of 1986. That said, it stands up damn well today as well – the hit-potential here is sky-high! The only song I really wasn’t that fond of back then is “Talk, Talk, Talk” – and I’m still not. It’s not a crap song by any means but it’s a bit bland, at least at times. Where the verses comes on pretty strong with a rounchy outlook and some damn catchy melodies, the chorus don’t keep what the verses promised – and the whole thing becomes a bit of an anti-climax.
“Partners In Crime”, a more uptempo and much more AOR-laden version of a song that came in a darker and heavier direction as the b-side to “Rosie”, is next. To be honest, the more Hard Rock b-side version is the one I dig the most, I like how the band showed off a grittier side with more edge whereas the album version is more glossy with lots of keyboards. It’s still a solid rocker with a monstrous refrain – to good for a b-side. “Love Reaction” is a West-Coast meets AOR meets Pop song, somewhat mellow and laid-back, especially in its verses while the refrain takes on a more grandiose outlook where it aims right for your brain and once it was there, it’s there forever. It’s a half-ballad with an enormous chunk of hit-potential. I can easily see this as a hit-single. One can only speculate what would have happened with this band if they actually was given a go at making it with all the hit-single potential.
I went though “Rosie” (a song not about a girl, apparently, but about jerking off – Rosie is the name of the right hand…) and “In The Middle Of Nowhere” above, but this re-release doesn’t end there even if the original album did. Get this CD and you’ll be treated with two additional songs. The first, “Eye For An Eye”, was the b-side to “In The Middle Of Nowhere” – and why this one was left off the record back then is a mystery. With a sign-of-the-times sequenced synthesizer blipping the tune into gear, the rest of the tune is a big AOR-rocker with enough catchiness to sell. Uptempo with a clear Melodic Rock twist, the song might not be single-material but a cracking tune that should have had its rightful place on the record. “There Is A River” was the b-side to “Talk Of The Town” and that this laid-back and somewhat solemn and sullen ballad never made it to the album is more understandable. It’s not bad but a bit dull and it never grabs me despite Tommy Nilsson’s soulful vocals. Easily the weakest song this lot ever recorded.
Any downfalls, then? Well, I’m not gonna get into the fact that the production is somewhat dated because it sounded majestic back in ’86. It is what it is, but maybe a remix (or a re-recording) would even better the album. Only speculation, though. Well, I can’t really figure out why the original version of “Partners In Crime” wasn’t included – it’s a CD release, there is room. Otherwise, no complaints. Tommy Nilsson was and is an amazing vocalist with a very personal voice – even Toto considered hiring him once upon a time, Kee Marcello was a bonafide guitar-hero already back then and the rest of the band also showed off some stellar musical skills.
Despite the very 1986 production, the album holds up extremely well today and even though the album hardly sold millions back then, it has today morphed from a cult classic into a complete AOR-gem, praised by more lovers of this genre than it did back then. This re-release is only released in 1000 copies – why pull a stunt like this when they have the chance to bring it out to a larger crowd than ever? – so make sure you end up with one. If AOR and Melodic Rock is the stuff that rocks your world, this is a record you can easily buy completely unheard. A true classic!
1. Talk Of The Town
2. Teachers Do It With Class
3. Code To Your Heart
4. Only Love
5. One In A Million
6. Talk Talk Talk
7. Partners In Crime
8. Love Reaction
10. In The Middle Of Nowhere
11. Eye For An Eye
12. There Is A River