REVIEW: Europe – Best Ballads (unauthorized Russian release)

EUROPE – Best Ballads (1999 unofficial Russian compilation)

Ah Russian imports!  Those funky and cheaply printed covers, the lack of liner notes or label information…how quaint.  It is clear the Tempest Administration had no collusion with anyone in Russia.  Yet the Russians did hack their database and release Best Ballads anyway, a weird collection of 12 Europe songs and three solo tracks by Joey Tempest.  This CD originated during the period right before Europe’s triumphant reunion album Start From the Dark, so Best Ballads only contains music from the first five Europe discs.

Because it’s unauthorized and the Russians can do whatever they want, why not have both versions of “Open Your Heart” on one CD?  The sweeping 1988 version from Out of this World inaugurates the album, a brilliant version often forgotten in favour of the 1984 original.  What’s the difference?  John Norum played on the 1984 version from Wings of Tomorrow, and the re-recording has his replacement Kee Marcello.  The 1988 version also has more modern keyboards added.  Since both are included, you don’t have to pick a favourite.  We can all agree it truly is one of Europe’s Best Ballads.

What else is present?  The “big one” of course, which would be “Carrie”.  It’s the only track from The Final Countdown, because it was the only hit ballad from that album.  Other crucial Europe ballads:  “Dreamer” (Wings of Tomorrow), “Coast to Coast” and “Tomorrow” (both from Out of this World).  All timeless and flawless ballads.  From their first album (1983’s Europe) are a couple songs I wouldn’t have considered ballads.  In my review, I stated that “Words of Wisdom” has “an acoustic verse [but] that doesn’t make it a ballad!”  The other track, “Return of the King”, is “still pretty epic and wouldn’t be considered wimpy by anyone”.  Do they belong on a CD called Best Ballads?  Who gives a fuck; it’s just a Russian import!

You’ll even find a couple rarities included.  “Sweet Love Child” and “I’ll Cry For You (Acoustic version)” are both B-sides from the Prisoners in Paradise (1991) period.   The title track “Prisoners in Paradise” is also present but again, not really a ballad.  Either way…all the Europe tunes included are fantastic no matter how you classify them.  Each one has at least a foot in ballad territory so it all works out.

But what about those Joey Tempest “bonus tracks”?  Surprisingly good and un-Europe.  “Under the Influence” flies close to adult contemporary levels.  “Lord of the Manner” could have been a hit for Rod Stewart, but that’s not a bad thing!  This is more like soft rock than balladeering.  “Elsewhere” sounds more like a ballad, enhanced with strings and all the accoutrements.  All good songs and worth checking out.

Europe’s Best Ballads is not a bad little CD, but being an unofficial release, it’s difficult to reason out a rating out of 5.  I did the best I could.

/5 ЗВЕЗДЫ

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29 comments

  1. Listen Mike .. I don’t want to offend you or any readers with this little Slice … But come on ..

    Not only Europe .. but Europe’s greatest ballads? I refuse to read this review on the grounds of simple integrity. I love you dude .. but sometimes a true friend is the one that needs to say .. “look man… You’ve got a problem” …

    Until you have ran out of Thin Lizzy, Mercyful Fate, Joe Cocker, Kyuss, Johnny Cash, Accept, … Even god damn Bon Jovi .. which at least I can somewhat understand … The Europe needs to go ..

    Oh .. and not to mention … Anvil, Radiohead, John Coltrane, Rage Against the Machine ..Florence and the F’n Machine …

    Only real friends tell you when it’s time for no more fucking Europe!

    *These comments may be the sole opinion of Uncle Meat, but they are expressed with love and concern for your very soul*

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lol! I don’t even know why I bought this. I don’t remember at all. I couldn’t have paid much. I hope.

      Fear not! I have very little Europe left to review. I have the entire Megadeth catalogue and plenty of Sabbath to cover, but not much more Europe.

      This was a bit of a curiosity that I wanted to post in order to make a couple Russia jokes :)

      Like

  2. I hate the fact that the Russians sell fake musical stuff.

    They often put out copies of limited release albums.
    That last cd by Black Sabbath was a good example. Real ones only available at concerts cost over $100.
    Fake ones from Russia are $5.
    I bet in most cases the sound is crap.

    What is the sound like on this one Mike?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Get this. With your stats page, you can see if anyone hits your articles from an outside link. I found the Europe conspiracy article linked to from a message board. It says “Finally this hoax is becoming know. Joey was replaced over 20 years ago by an imposter!”. Sigh. I’m sorry you can’t read and don’t understand satire.

      Liked by 1 person

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