The media loved to play off Bon Jovi and Europe against each other, but they operated in different spheres. Europe always had the Euro/classical vibe to their music. Even at their commercial zenith, this Euro/classical vibe was still prevalent.
In Australia, the album was double platinum. In other parts of the world, it was the same, if not more.
Apart from the mainstays in vocalist Joey Tempest and bassist Jon Leven, “The Final Countdown” is the first album to feature keyboardist Mic Michaeli and drummer Ian Haugland, and the last to feature original guitarist John Norum until Europe’s 2000’s reboot.
“The Final Countdown”
At 294.7 million streams on Spotify, it’s a monster track. It’s on every Spotify playlists when it comes to hard rock and the 80’s and number ones and what not.
That intro. Iconic and memorable.
Wikipedia tells me it was a riff composed by Joey Tempest in 1981/82. It sat on the backburner until 1985, when bassist Jon Leven, asked Tempest to bring it back in the mix and write a song around it.
An interview that Tempest did with the BBC he mentions the following;
“I was in college and keyboards had started to make their way into rock music. I thought that could be a good idea and so I borrowed this keyboard from the only guy in school that had a keyboard. I went home and tried a few sounds on it and I came up with that riff. I thought it was very special and I kept it in the drawer until we did the third album many years later.
By then, there were some other bands experimenting with keyboards, like Van Halen with “Jump”. So on the third album, I gave this demo to the guys and said maybe we can do something nice with the demo and then we had an opening for the show.
I can trace bands like UFO in it, sort of a galloping theme like Iron Maiden had on “The Number of the Beast” album on quite a few songs.”
I like how Tempest mentions the influences of the song. It’s how we create. Take something that came before and make it better. And it also shows how ballsy the move was from EVH to create a song based around a synth riff. It inspired other bands to do the same.
How good is that lead break from John Norum?
He left the band as the album was being released. The original album cover has him on it, however subsequent versions afterwards had Kee Marcello, his replacement.
“Rock The Night”
50.46 million streams on Spotify.
A great “Rock You Like A Hurricane” inspired intro kicks off this song.
It was already a fan favourite, as it was played live on the “Wings Of Tomorrow” tour, and in Sweden, it was on the soundtrack of a Swedish film called “On The Loose”, along with the songs “On The Loose” and “Broken Dreams”.
Just don’t watch the video clip.
123.96 million streams on Spotify. It’s also on a lot of playlists from Spotify, with the main one being the “Power Ballads” playlist.
Listen to the lead break from Norum. It’s the style of lead breaks that Vito Bratta would become known for.
“Danger On The Track”
The lyrics are silly but the vocal melodies are infectious.
But the interlude. It’s got everything. Norum plays a bluesy riff while the keyboard solos, and when he gets his chance, he delivers.
The intro melodic lead hooks me in straight away. Or maybe it was the “Lights Out” groove from UFO.
This song, along with “Rock The Night” were the first songs written for the album and played live during the “Wings Of Tomorrow” tour.
Make sure you check out the lead break. Norum brings his Michael Schenker and Uli John Roth influences to the table on this one.
It’s a perfect closer for Side A.
Artists that weren’t American, were writing about American issues and the treatment of the Native Indian tribes. The idea for this song came from a book that the wife of producer Kevin Elson had and it was the last song written for the album.
The intro riff, which is also the Chorus riff is excellent.
And how good are the small leads in the Outro chorus. Tempest sings “Cher-o-kee” and Norum plays three notes after it, to mimic it.
“Time Has Come”
It’s like a soundtrack song. “Drive” from The Cars comes to mind.
But the bomb in this song is the whole solo movement. It is orchestrated brilliantly. It starts off with a Def Leppard like inspired riff before it goes into the lead.
“Heart Of Stone”
This track is one of those “deep album cuts” which is a fan favourite. The riffs are heavy metal like and that Chorus vocal melody is infectious.
And the solo.
Man, check it out as Norum pours his creativity in it.
“On The Loose”
It’s the “Blackout” feel from Scorpions that gets me to pay attention.
It’s a combination of “The Final Countdown” riff and “Danger On The Track”.
And what a shred-a-licious lead break to close the album with.
Europe would go on and release the excellent “Out Of This World” in 1988 which had more of a classic rock and metal vibe to it, and after a lot of delays and demanded re-writes by the label, “Prisoners In Paradise” in 1991, before calling it quits for the rest of the 90’s. But when they returned in the 2000’s, they returned with power, fully in control of their masters and their careers.
Part 1.1 on Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time is here.
Part 1.2 on David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile is here.
Part 1.3 on Metallica- Master Of Puppets is here.