Friday, June 19, 2009

Aha’s Foot of the Mountain released

First posted 9/9/2020.

Foot of the Mountain


Released: June 19, 2009

Peak: -- US, 5 UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.25 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: synth pop


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Bandstand
  2. Riding the Crest
  3. What There Is
  4. Foot of the Mountain (5/5/09, 66 UK)
  5. Real Meaning
  6. Shadowside (9/21/09, --)
  7. Nothing Is Keeping You Here (9/21/09, --)
  8. Mother Nature Goes to Heaven
  9. Sunny Mystery
  10. Start the Simulator

Total Running Time: 40:45

The Players:

  • Morten Harket (vocals, guitar)
  • Magne Furuholmen (keyboards, guitar, bass)
  • Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars, drums, percussion)


3.233 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)

Quotable: “If this is to be a-ha's final LP, then they've undeniably gone out on a high.” – Jon O’Brien, All Music Guide

About the Album:

Nearly a quarter century after finding international success with “Take on Me,” the Norwegian synth-pop trio announced that their ninth studio album, Foot of the Mountain, would be their swan song. It turned out the retirement didn’t stick as they returned for a tenth effort, Cast in Steel, in 2015, but no one knew that at the time.

The album was produced by Steve Osborne, who’d worked with New Order, as well as Erik Ljunggren, Roland Spremberg and Mark Saunders. It was recorded in New York, Oslo, Hamburg, Stockholm, and Bath between the autumn of 2008 and the spring of 2009. AZ

“Despite some obvious '80s influences, Foot of the Mountain is far from a contrived attempt at trying to restore former glories.” AMG The album “eschews the melancholic indie pop sound that dominated its predecessor, Analogue, and instead neatly brings their underrated career full circle by returning to the melodic electronica of their early glory days.” AMG

“Opening with the galloping charge of The Bandstand, the album quickly defines itself with the keyboard intro before Morten's instantly recognizable vocals announce their return.” AZ The song “recalls the early noir-ish atmospherics of early Depeche Mode with its pulsating new romantic basslines, eerie spacy synths.” AMG

“The glorious OMD-esque Riding the Crest,” AMG which also shows influences of Arcade Fire, AZ is “arguably their most infectious pop song since 1987 James Bond theme ‘The Living Daylights.’” AZ It “sounds like a number from a classic Giorgio Moroder movie soundtrack.” AZ

From there, “the album flows into the melancholic What There Is before thundering back into the stunning single and title track Foot of the Mountain.” AZ The latter is “a reworking of ‘The Longest Night,’ a song from keyboardist Magne Furuholmen's previous solo album, A Dot of Black in the Blue of Your Bliss.” AMG It “is a soaring slice of emotive piano-driven pop/rock that would make Keane green with envy.” AMG The song was the band’s 19th top-ten hit in Norway.

Shadowside is a heartbreaking ballad whose string-soaked finale evokes the cinematic choristry of Sigur Rós; and the echoing effects, Chicane-style synth chords.” AMG A ”Peter Hook-influenced bassline turns Sunny Mystery into their most clubby effort to date.” AMG Both sogs incorporate “the most driving and contagious beats and lyrics of A-HA's career.” AZ

“The inventive streak that runs through the album’s ten tracks isn't always quite as successful. Closing number Start the Simulator is a brave but misguided attempt at experimental post-rock, based on a rather clunky space travel metaphor that reduces Harket’s beautifully understated tones to Auto-Tuned anonymity, while Mother Nature Goes to Heaven is a wishy-washy and meandering attempt to highlight the plight of the environment, which suggests the band is much better at tackling more personal themes than heavy-handed issues.” AMG

But while many acts bow out of their careers with lackluster and hastily assembled efforts, Foot of the Mountain is the sound of a band you feel has much more to offer. If this is to be a-ha's final LP, then they've undeniably gone out on a high.” AMG It “is an album that cements A-HA's position in the world of pop.” AZ

Resources and Related Links:

Monday, June 1, 2009

50 years ago: Johnny Horton hit #1 with “The Battle of New Orleans”

First posted 3/13/2021.

The Battle of New Orleans

Johnny Horton

Writer(s): Jimmy Driftwood (see lyrics here)

Released: April 6, 1959

First Charted: April 27, 1959

Peak: 16 US, 19 CB, 16 HR, 110 CW, 16 UK, 17 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 9.34 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“The Battle of New Orleans” dates back to 1815. On August 8 of that year, Andrew Jackson led American forces against British troops in New Orelans, not knowing the War of 1812 had officially ended two weeks earlier. A folk song called “The Eighth of January” celebrated the victory and became a popular fiddle tune. BR1

It wasn’t until 1955 that Jimmy Driftwood, a high school teacher and principal from Arkansas, wrote lyrics for it in an effort to get his students more interested in learning history. WK The song described the battle in a comical tone from the perspective of an American solider. Driftwood became well known in the area for his historical songs. WK In the late 1950s, RCA gave him a recording contract and he recorded a dozen songs in 1958, including “The Battle of New Orleans.” WK

The song was subsequently recorded by many different artists, including Johnny Cash, Les Claypool, Lonnie Donegan, Bill Haley, Doug Kershaw, Vaughn Monroe, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dolly Parton, Leon Russell, and Sha Na Na. It was Johnny Horton, however, who took the song to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the country charts. His version omits many of the historical references.

Sadly, Horton was killed in a head-on collision on November 5, 1960. He performed that night at the Skyline in Austin, Texas – the same club where Hanks Williams made his final appearance before his death. In another strange coincidence, Horton’s widow, Billie Jean, was formerly married to Williams. BR1 Ironically, Horton was driving because he’d had a premonition of his death and consequently refused to fly on airplanes. BR1

Billboard ranked “New Orleans” the #1 song of 1959. It won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Country & Western Recording.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Johnny Horton
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 54.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia