ELECTRIC BOYS – Starflight United

Starflight United 2014It was back in the late 80’s when AOR and melodic rock ruled the airwaves. Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Europe owned everything and even bands like Kiss, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest would succumb into the use of keyboards and catchy radio friendly choruses. That’s when Electric Boys stuck their neck out like a big middle finger to every perm haired hard rocker who had jumped on the melodic band wagon. It might sound like I hate that kind of hard rock, but I don’t – quite the opposite – I love it. But I’m also a sucker for bands and artists that comes along and breaks the trends – as the long as the music kicks ass. Guns N Roses had released Appetite For Destruction by this point, but no one had started to give a damn yet. Therefore, when Electric Boys came along in Sweden they were a breath of fresh air. Listening to them today, their music might not sound ground breaking at all, but back in 1989, their mix of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and shit loads of funk wasn’t what the Swedish music scene was all about. Before Electric Boys, lead singer and lead guitarist Conny Bloom (then Blomqvist) and bassist Andy Christell had a pop rock band called Rolene, that also had former Hanoi Rocks drummer Gyp Casino in the band, but the band disappeared fast and when Electric Boys first emerged, they were just a duo that concisted of Bloom and Christell before Franco Santunione (guitar) and Niclas Sigevall (drums) joined. Their debut album Funk-o-Metal Carpet Ride (1989) was a huge success in Sweden and the singles “All Lips n’ Hips” and “Electrified” became big hits and it was decided that a new version of the album would be recorded for the U.S. market, with five new Bob Rock produced songs replacing some of the original tunes. The album was a success, but when Groovus Maximus was released in 1992, nothing really happened world wide and with grunge happening, their record company lost interest and Franco and Niclas jumped the ship and were replaced by Martin Thomander (guitar) and Thomas Broman (drums) for the uninspired Freewheelin’ (1994) before the band disbanded. Bloom then started the short-lived, but underrated band Titanic Truth before releasing his solo album Psychonaut in 1999. Bloom and Christell later joined the reunited Hanoi Rocks for two albums and tours before they put the band was put to rest. It was then, of course, time to reunite Electric Boys – something I had been waiting for quite some time when it finally happened in 2009 for a much appreciated gig att Sweden Rock Festival – and the success was a fact. After that you wouldn’t have to be rocket scientist to figure out that a new album would pop up eventually. And in 2011 …And Them Boys Done Swang came along and proved that Electric Boys were a force to be reckoned with. In fact, it wasn’t just a worthy follow-up to Groovus Maximus, it turned out that after letting the album grow for a while, the album was the boys best effort to date. Which is not a small thing considering both of the Funk-o-Metal Carpet Ride albums are true classics. That also gave the guys, and especially main song writer Conny Bloom, a whole lot to live up to. They had to come up with an album that was at least as good as its predecessor.

The first sign of life we got from the guys was a cover. The song was called “Dancing On My Own” and was originally recorded by Swedish pop wonder Robyn and was merely recorded for a Swedish TV show called “Hits Of All Times”. In Sweden we (they) love those kind of TV shows. Now, I’m not that big on Robyn’s music but she’s very talented, that’s not even up for discussion, but I was a bit taken by the fact that Electric Boys had decided to release a cover as their first single. I admit that they made a killer version of the song – way better than the original – but it was still worrying that it was a cover. However, it took just a quick look at the back cover of their new album to realise that the song isn’t even included on it. What a relief. Still, they could have put it on there as a bonus track or something. No win situation here, boys, huh? Also, “Dancing On My Own” was released a long time before the new album was even given a name so I guess in the end it was only an intermission. The new album, however, was preceded by a self-written song and video, “Spaced Out”, a song that answered all my questions whether the guys could still come up with the goods or if the reunion album was just a one-off and a lucky strike. They did come up with the goods. And then some! The song sounds much as what the title suggests. It sounds like a 70’s tune, spaced out and I’m thinking of Cream and such bands. It might not have the big hit chorus, but the song is brilliant, it’s memorable and it’s groovy like hell. Second song “Desire” is also single material in my book. I hear both Zep and Aerosmith in here with a really catchy melody and a major groove. With “If Only She Was Lonely”, Bloom has managed to write the first ever Electric Boys pop song. Of course, it’s a rocker, but the arrangements goes pop all the way and it is a real killer. “Life Is So Electric” is one of my favourites, it has a brilliant swing and its melody reminds me of the now defunct 70’s influenced Swedish rock band Captain Murphy, if you’ve heard of / remember them. “Tramp” might be one of the grooviest song in many a year, really funky and another fave here. The grand ballad of the album is called “Ain’t No Getting Over”, beautiful, heartfelt and soulful and I’ll be damned if the lyrics isn’t self experienced. Sure comes across that way. “Junk In The Trunk” is a real funk groover with horns and all and I can really imagine Steven Tyler going off on this one – awesome. I totally love “Lucy Fur” – what a swing! And swing is the word for this one as I get a taste of big band jazz and 1920’s music along with the funk and the rock. Impressing!

“B.A.S.F.” stands for Born Again Super Funky and the title really says it all. It’s also a cool nod to a time when we used cassettes for music experience. A BASF tape was one of those empty cassettes that we used to buy and tape our friends’ records on when we couldn’t afford to buy them. The Pirate Bay of the 70’s and 80’s, kind of… The title track follows and that one takes us back to the glory days of the Funk-o-Metal Carpet Ride and the song “Who Are You” comes to mind along with the hard rock funk groove and a fine Beatles twist. The last song on the album is the first one composed as a band together. It’s called “59 High Mountain St” and is a long, instrumental song that sounds very much like the early 70’s. I really dig the tune, but it’s just a bit too long and that is just about the only negative thing I can say about this album. Because Electric Boys has done it once again. I didn’t think they would top their last album, but they have done so. This album sounds playful, soulful, energetic, passionate, fun-loving and relaxed. It would shock me the most if it turned out that the guys didn’t have a blast recording this, because Electric Boys have never sounded better than they do now. The album sounds old, but at the same time modern, it has this really heavy production but at the same time it’s easy listened and the way the band sounds – tight as hell with Sigevall’s John Bonham-ish drum grooves – is really hard to find anywhere else. I’m not a musical patriot that gives my fellow Swedes a high rating just because of the Sweden factor, probably more the other way around, but the fact that we’re only five months into 2014 and there has been some majestic releases from Swedish bands – Dynazty, Laney’s Legion, Patrik Jansson Band, Skintrade, H.E.A.T., Heart Of Stones and now Electric Boys – maybe 2014 belongs to Swedish hard rock. Because yes, if you’re a rock fan, you should really own them all. If you haven’t started shopping for CDs yet, then start now – and you could might as well start with this one. Because you’re worth it – and so are they!

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Tracklist:

01. Spaced Out
02. Desire
03. If Only She Was Lonely
04. Life Is So Electric
05. Tramp
06. Ain’t No Gettin’ Over You
07. Junk In The Trunk
08. Gangin’ Up
09. Lucy Fur
10. Basf
11. Starflight United
12. 59 High Mountain St.

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4 comments on “ELECTRIC BOYS – Starflight United

  1. One of the biggest tragedies in rock music was the fact that The Electric Boys weren’t more successful here in the States. I never liked that grunge crap that was being shoved down our throats in the ‘90s. I’ve been an Electric Boys fan since Funk O’ Metal and EVERYBODY who has ever heard me play ANYTHING by them has enjoyed their music. Often time just hearing that funky groove for the first time has made instant fans. Let’s hope these guys are going to get a ‘second chance’ to infect the world with their infectious beats.

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