11 August 2010
Ola and the Janglers - I Can Wait
Year of Release: 1967
These days, I would hope that most people are aware of the fact that the Scandinavian countries have well-developed and extraordinarily creative music industries of their own (a sentence I'm aware sounds slightly condescending, but isn't meant to be). In the sixties, however, if any Scandies attempted to break the UK or US markets, they were normally blocked out. It's tempting to put this solely down to isolationism and xenophobia - and those two traits were certainly common to both Britons and Yanks at the time - but there again, when you consider that every teenage boy or girl with a guitar in London, Liverpool, Manchester, New York, LA and San Francisco (and beyond) were courting labels and darkening their knuckles knocking on the relevant doors, life was never going to be easy for somebody trying to infiltrate from the outside.
Ola and the Janglers - despite their ridiculous name, another thing I'll warrant stood in their way - were a hugely popular group in their native Sweden, scoring numerous hits. Their material varied from the rich, weeping, Walker Brothers-esque ballad "What A Way To Die", to rather more abrasive garage poppers like "I'm Thinking Of You", straight along to this, something so downright mod it should have been given away free with all Vespa purchases. The strummed, clanging guitars and Ola's charmingly hesitant vocals bounce keenly off Motown rhythms, and the whole thing is danceable enough to trigger activity in any well person's limbs. It should have been a hit, and doubtless was in the areas Britons refer to as "continental Europe".
Whilst this didn't really do the business, they were the first Swedish group ever to chart in the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, their cover of Chris Montez's "Let's Dance" managing to climb up to number 92. Ola's career continued in Sweden over the decades as well, recording a duet with Abba's Agnetha Fältskog in 1986 - somebody who completely changed international perceptions of Swedish music with her own career.
Incidentally, I have to confess that I don't like the B-side to "I Can Wait" - even the title, "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo", is bloody irritating. It's not without it's fans, though, so feel free to sample it below. You've nothing to lose.
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