Countless artists pour their hearts and souls into making the "next big record". A precious few sell millions, some have maintained a comfortably small fan base, and others never rise from obscurity. But all are susceptible to one possible dubious fate: The shelf of your local thrift store. These poor unwanted remnants of the past grace the shelves of your Goodwills, your Salvation Armys, your local mom & pop shop, waiting to be rediscovered... to be loved once again.

Over my years of thrift store scouring, I gradually began to notice certain discs and records that repeatedly reveal themselves on nearly every visit to any location. It left me wondering: Why are these select albums so often discarded, what led them to this point, and will the recognition and love for them ever be renewed once again? Now I can confidently answer YES. I bestow unto you, an appreciation for all discs left behind: "Thrift Store Albums."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ace of Base: The Sign

Remember when Swedish electro-pop was huge in the United States? Me neither. But somehow, likely spawned by it's ridiculously addictive title track, Ace of Base hit American airwaves hard and "opened up our eyes". It also holds the distinction of being my very first Compact Disc purchase, ever. I am eternally in their debt.

So what exactly was it that that brought about this strange anomaly of pop history? There's only one answer. "The Sign" is the catchiest damn song ever written. I don't know if we'll ever really know what, specifically, that sign was, but I'm glad it all worked out.

The group consists of two ladies and two fellas, with singer Linn Berggren doing most of the heavy lifting vocally. The guys in the lineup (all siblings), did most of the songwriting, as well as some nice tough-sounding speak-talking sort of stuff. Must be a Swedish thing. The sing-along factor is raised to 11 on this album, with those hooks and harmonies popping in at the most opportune times. And you know those spots where the beat completely cuts out perfectly for just a split second before the chorus jumps in? That trick is done here in spades.

The album was packed with charmingly catchy tracks, including "Don't Turn Around" and "All That She Wants". You just sang one of those two in your head just now, didn't you? Alas, once again, with so many millions of copies in the possession of now 30-somethings, there was just no room for this pop classic in many a CD collection. Don't think they've faded away, though. The group has been credited as an influence by many a modern pop star, including the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Love it or not, electro-pop lives on.

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