This one comes to you by request of Jompa Wilmenius!
EUROPE – Out of this World (1988 Epic)
So here I am, in the same place that I was 26 years ago when I first heard Out of this World, by a band I just loved: Europe. It was late August of 1988. The location is a quaint wooden cottage north of Kincardine, Ontario. I bought this album at the local records & tapes store while on summer vacation. The problem with August in Kincardine is that it was a crummy time to be on vacation. It started to get cool in late August, dark and rainy. That August was a damp one, and I have lots of memories of being in this exact same location trying to wrap my head around Europe’s then-latest.
From the first single, it was obvious to my friends and I that Europe had mellowed somewhat. It seemed odd to me that a band of Europe’s stature would release something mid-tempo and softer as a first single. But there was no questioning the quality of “Superstitious”. It remains one of Joey Tempest’s greatest compositions. This song has it all: A soulful vibe, anthemic Europe keyboards, an absolutely blazing guitar solo by Kee Marcello, and plenty of organ to go with this darker mellow vibe.
I don’t think this video did them any favors.
That considered, I expected the next song “Let the Good Times Rock” to sound more like upbeat, “old” Europe (which to me was The Final Countdown). Although it has some cool guitar hooks and fun lyrics, it’s more of a laid back dark n’ dirty grind. This furthered the feeling that Europe were softening a bit.
None of us were then aware that “Open Your Heart” was a remake of a song from 1984’s Wings of Tomorrow. Kee didn’t play on the orginal, so it’s cool to hear his take on it. Even though this song was a ballad, it was undoubtedly hit single quality. When this song failed to get any airplay here, I began to worry that Europe’s fortunes in this country were over. I could not fathom how the song had not become a massive hit. Europe were being ignored by the mainstream. It was a shame. I still think the re-recorded version is great. As I said in my review for Wings of Tomorrow, “I prefer the re-recorded version, because it includes an additional guitar part, really cool and catchy, immediately after the acoustic intro.”
“More Than Meets the Eye” has nothing to do with the Transformers, but it does consist of more dark, keyboard-oriented radio rock. It’s a very good song, but again, I was craving something more upbeat. There was still hit single potential here. “Coast to Coast” is equally good, but very soft. This is a mournful organ-backed anthem. It’s peaceful, just like this cottage by the lake. Quality-wise, this is top-notch. However we are now five songs into the A-side, without a really truly upbeat sounding rock song. The young me found this all a bit too depressing, though today I don’t mind the laid back vibes.
Then, finally! “Ready or Not”! A smoking rock song. Everything the album needed. When Joey sings, “Then rock me just a little more,” that’s exactly how I felt! Coming from Canada, I often wonder how Europe’s Swedish fans, who had been on board much longer, felt about Europe’s new musical direction.
Side B commenced with the elegant keyboards of “Sign of the Times”. The song feels highbrow, and perhaps musically it was too sophisticated for the tastes at the time. It’s an excellent song, another keyboard-drenched anthem. The shame of it is, the production (by Ron Nevison) robs the song of so much power. Some things he captures quite well, such as Mic Michaeli’s organ. Other things are weak by comparison. Kee’s lead tone sounds cold…just like this cottage used to be in late August…and the rhythm guitars are not present enough. The song could have had much more dynamics, heavy and soft, if the instruments were just recorded a little differently.
“Just the Beginning” isn’t anything special to me, a chorus without a song. This one you can skip, there are better songs to be had. “Never Say Die” is pretty good. It too lacks that upbeat feel that I’m craving on a Europe album, but it’s good enough for me. It has some great parts even if the whole isn’t all it should be. The organ and guitar solos, for example, are a lot of fun. Unfortunately “Lights and Shadows”, which follows, is just filler.
“Tower’s Callin'”, the penultimate song, is back to quality songwriting. Even though the song has a cool groove (badly recorded once again) and a killer chorus, the lyrics are completely incongruous to the mood of the music! The songs seem to be about an air disaster:
All set ready to go but little does he know
He ain’t comin’ back no more, no
All set ready to fly into that deep blue sky
Like so many times before
Now the tower’s callin’, there’s no reply
And there’s nothin’ they can do
Now the night is fallin’ before their eyes
Still no one’s comin’ through, callin’ F12
Or am I reading this with too much 2014 perspective? Perhaps the song is supposed to be more Twilight Zone in nature, a disappearing plane?
The final track is “Tomorrow”, a Joey Tempest piano piece that once again has to be one of his best compositions. It does close the album on a sad, rainy note…much like that August in ’88.
It’s obvious that I can’t separate my listening to Out of this World from feelings of nostalgia. For that reason, take my rating with a grain of salt. Although many may feel differently, I like this album. It has a weaker second side and way too many ballads, but Ron Nevison robbed the guitars of their thunder. The songwriting shines through on many tracks, as does the talent of the players. For those reasons:
My bro bought this back than and I listened to it as well as he had the cassette of it.
Your right and at the time it was a little to mellow for me I mean 1988 there was a ton of acts that had records out that yr…Roth,Halen,ACDC,Poison,Maiden and albums from the previous yr that were still selling like Gunners,Leppard,Aerosmith so for me Out Of This World got left behind but I’m in agreement with ya on Superstitious and also I really dug for some reason More Than Meets The Eye…
Damn you’re right about all those 88 albums. Aerosmith also had come out with Gems that year. Dokken had their like album out, and Quiet Riot did their self titled, Kiss had an album out…
In my younger days I was guilty of writing a band off because of one song. I wrongly assumed Europe sucked because I hated the only song I had heard by them, The Final Countdown. Another one was No Rain by Blind Melon. As I have gotten older I have been buying a lot of old albums. I often find albums that I have never heard of that were produced by Mutt Lange or John Paul Jones, or guest appearances by Joe Walsh, Jeff Beck, etc. I have found a lot of tunes that I actually love. Sometimes the hit song that made me write a band off was the worst song on the album, and the songs I have never heard before are great. If I find any Europe vinyl I will not hesitate to get it. Thanks for opening my eyes to how good this band really is.
Thanks man! I’ll get into some of their later albums too, and I also have not reviewed their debut yet! Which is a killer album.
Jompa Wilmenius will show up and offer his comments too, he knows everything about this band. I believe he is friends with Kee Marcello.
I wouldn’t say friends, but our paths has crossed and it’s more like we know of each other, but it’s nothing more than that really.
Damn, I was hoping you’d have good stories about playing cards on Thursday nights or something. ;)
Actually now that I think of it I bought Norums Total Control around that time.
From what I remember it was pretty good and I think it had Back On The Streets song that appeared on the Vinnie Invasion debut I think if memory serves me correct …..
And than Norum went to Dokkens solo band …..
Back on the Streets, man that song has been around the block. Frehley’s Comet have a version too. Would have been cool to hear Kiss do it though.
Total Control was a really good album, but the truth is, it was Marcel Jacob, Norum’s bassplayer and co-writer who wrote almost the whole album himself, but he only got credit as a co-writer. If any of you has heard of Jacob’s own band Talisman (he formed that band with Jeff Scott Soto), then I can reveal that Talisman’s debut album was originally supposed to be the follow up to Total Control.
I’ve got this on vinyl but still never listened to it. I know a lot of the songs from the Rock the Night comp though and I like them all. Maybe not their best stuff though.
Not their best, but I think the album is worth having for the odd tunes that are not on Rock the Night. You might not find you listen to it a lot, but I think worth having.
I’ll need to give it a spin. I picked it up on vinyl a few years ago cause I saw it cheap but I’ve just never got round to playing it.
Probably because you’re too busy playing all your pipe band records all the time.
And taking the haggis for walks.
Haggis would be a great name for a little Scottie dog.
And Scottie would be a great name for a haggis!
So you finally wrote the review, bro. Awesome. I agree with a lot of stuff, but there arre stuff we don’t see eye to eye on.
But to answer one of your questions, when this album was released, no one in Sweden actaully saw it as a major change, musically. I wouldn’t call this album laid or soft, it just lacks a lot of uptempo songs. The album is heavier and slower than The Final Countdown, that was more of a pop album. Well, a rock album dressed up as pop, anyway. And even though Ron Nevison’s production sucks – which it always does – there are less synthesizers and more organ and also the guitars are much higher in the mix than on TFC. And I really don’t think there are too many ballads, in my opinion there are only two.
The way I see it, this album needs two ratings, one for the songs and one for the sound. The sound gets 2/10 from me, but the songs are 9/10 without any hesitation. I think this album is Europe’s best album song wise.
The only reason I couldn’t give this 10/10 is the crappy ballads. Coast To Coast does not belong on a rock album. One of their crappiest songs ever, but Marcello’s solo is brilliant and Tomorrow is just plain dull, kinda like watching paint dry.
Otherwise, I think the rest of the songs are all killers. Open Your Heart might just be a decent poprocker but the fact that Kee Marcello totally owns John Norum is pretty clear by just listening to that song. Everything Norum does, Marcello does better. So we clearly agree on that this version is better than the original. I don’t really agree with Just The Beginning either. Marcello brought that track in and I believe that song is single material – awesome song. Lights And Shadows is another one I must disagree with you on. It’s a heavy hard rock blues number. I have always loved that song.
It’s really interesting to think about what this album would have sounded like with a really great production.
Great review, Mike and it was really cool to finally get your opinions on this album.
It’s interesting Jon because although we like a lot of the same artists, we often disagree about the songs!
Regardless, I remember being blow away hearing Kee for the first time. The solo on Superstitious has one part which is really smooth and really fast — I used to listen intently to that solo figuring out how the hell he played so fast. Then I wondered if, between him and Yngwie, if there was additive in the water in Sweden that makes you all play the guitar so good.
An excellent review of an album I’v enot ever heard. And all I could think when I saw that album cover was ‘holy hell that is A LOT of hair.’ Were their tours sponsored by Pantene?
I was going to make a comment about the album cover not doing them any favors. But then I decided, “you know what, I’ll just let the cover speak for itself.” So there you go! It clearly spoke to you! I sure hope Pantene paid them for sponsorship.
Yeah, that cover really isn’t in their favour, but then again, The Final Countdown has an even uglier one. The Final Countdown sure don’t get that many points from me.
I like The Final Countdown’s cover because it reminds me of Superman II. The Phantom Zone! But then realize how cheesy that is.
I like the idea that they had with the cover, but the guy who painted it had to be on crack. I could have painted a better cover than that.
Hahahah! Yeah, probably! On a cassette or CD you can’t see the band members’ faces in the mirrors either.
While nowadays prefer Prisoners In Paradise as a whole, Out Of This World was a great record and compared well to other top names released about the same time (I recall New Jersey came out about a week about from this yeah?). Having not been a fan of the band (no love for The Final Countdown (song) and still none to this day) not sure how it came about that Out Of This World worked so well personally but there ya go.
And ya know the one thing that jumped out at me in this review was I NEVER once noticed the lack of speedy material!? Not once! That may well be due to not really following the band up until that point but only now am I sitting back in agreeance with ya LOL!
Which brings me to one point that I said then and continue to say now regarding Europe. Love or hate em, can’t deny their ability to write superior songs, both then and now. There’s not many Europe songs that don’t rate (guessing the mass appeal of The Final Countdown tune proves me wrong and in the minority LOL). I mean remove if you choose all the fluff and perfume of their heyday output (NOT including Wings or the debut in that comment – both those borderline ‘metal’ classics), and beneath all that Europe simply write (and perform – to this day Tempest remains an incredible singer) QUALITY SONGS!
Agreeing yet again with e-tainment, the sound of this record is lightweight rubbish which was a shame and sees the record not aging quite so well. Woulda rated OOTW a 4 back when, probably a 3.5 now and here too nostalgic value plays a big part too ;)
Another good review :)
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Thanks man! Yeah, a lot of quality songs on here could have been recorded better, thus earning a completely different score. Too bad! I just wanted some more rock out of these songs. Less echoey mush and more rock!
Right, this is a bit of a challenge for you, sir.
A number of years back, I was spinning a disk that a pal of mine sent through to me and I was spinning an album that he’d been raving about. It sounded pretty good and melodic, but it was fading into the background a little after a while. This was until it got to the guitar solo section of one of the songs and I found myself singing along with it for a bar or two before realising I was singing the “Superstitious” guitar solo. It was note for note!
I know for a fact that this wasn’t the Europe album, but it was a European rock band album, possibly one of those Arjen Anthony Lucassen projects with all those guest stars he uses. I couldn’t even tell you if it was Kee Marcello playing. It’s been bugging me for years that I cannot remember who or what it wsa I was playing and I can’t find the disk anywhere… Do you have ANY idea what I heard? Did I dream it?
Help me, LeBrain… You’re my only hope.
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I know a guy who can help. A personal friend of Kee. I will ask him!
Ok, first of all, Kee Marcello and I aren’t friends. He’s a super nice guy but we’ve only met once and spoken over the Messenger chat a couple of times. That’s it. I just needed to point that out so if by any chance, Kee or any friend of his reads this, he won’t think I’m trying to personate as someone close to him. :)
About that guitar solo, I’m lost as well. I know that Marcello hasn’t played on any of Lucassen’s albums but, I have never heard of a Superstitious guitar solo rip-off. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any assistance, guys.
No worries :)
It’s just one of those things that has always stayed in my mind but makes me think I’m losing grip!
Terrific album and like you I could not understand how “Open Your Heart” failed to connect with radio programmers in 1988 – considering what a huge hit “Carrie” had been for them and the lead single deserves a lot more recognition too. I think the trouble is Europe were sold as a pop band in the USA and pop audiences are fickle and their lack of significant touring in the States did not help them either.
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I re-listened to this one today and I think I may have been too hard on it in general. I might have to re-review it.
Hey was also listening to this again during the week now have the Rock Candy remaster which has def lifted the listen and given the album a fuller sound. I actually enjoy this one more again and songs connecting like they did back in the day. Tomorrow feels deeper, Ready Or Not sounds heavier, Sign Of The Times sounds bigger and Superstitious still aging like a fine red…
So much so happily put this way up there again on-par with Prisoners so def up for a re-review if you get around to it Mike ;)
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Shit. Just when I realized I need to re-buy some Mr. Big albums, now you’re trying to sell me on Europe reissues. OK, I’ll bite. Fine. I’ll order one :)
I actually like this album more now than I did then.