The Ending on a High Note Tour, the farewell trek by synthpop legends a-ha, has been in full swing for some time now. In about a month, the band takes their show to the U.S.A., a country that knows them for that first great hit “Take on Me,” but little else.
Readers of The Second Disc, however, likely know that the band continued to succeed (particularly in Europe and South America) through the mid-1990s and again in 2000, when comeback album Minor Earth, Major Sky earned them a new generation of fans. (Less discussed is the fact that in the same year, U2 had a massive hit that sounds just a bit similar to one of a-ha’s other U.S. Top 20 hits – and a band whose lead singer loves a-ha went mainstream.)
Still, unless you’re a diligent fan, it can be tough to figure out what goes where in the discography. For years – years – I thought the band’s second LP was Stay on These Roads (1988), and was therefore surprised to discover Scoundrel Days, the band’s actual second record. It’s possible that, due to this error, I have a softer spot for the big tracks on Roads (the title track, “The Blood That Moves the Body,” “The Living Daylights”) – but that’s not to count out Scoundrel Days at all. It sounds rawer and edgier than their debut, and possesses that dark kind of ambience that good synth-driven records can provide.
It seems the band (or at least Warner Music Group) likes Scoundrel Days as well; this Norwegian article which you will likely be unable to read mentions in the second-to-last paragraph a bunch of potential future a-ha releases, including deluxe versions of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days. (A major hat tip to faithful reader Don, who sent this link some time ago – you have not been forgotten!)
While the honchos at Rhino may very well be poring through the vaults to come up with nice track lists for these potential reissues, it can’t hurt to take a look at what’s there, Reissue Theory-style. (It also doesn’t hurt to note that a previous RT post on Hunting High and Low is one of the most popular posts on The Second Disc.)
You know where to find the tracks!
a-ha, Scoundrel Days (Warner Bros. 1-25501 (U.S.)/WEA WX 62 (U.K.), 1986)
- Scoundrel Days
- The Swing of Things
- I’ve Been Losing You
- Manhattan Skyline
- Cry Wolf
- We’re Looking for the Whales
- The Weight of the Wind
- Maybe, Maybe
- Soft Rains of April
- This Alone is Love (Early Version) (B-side to “I’ve Been Losing You” – Warner Bros. 7-28594, 1986)
- I’ve Been Losing You (Extended Version) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20557-0, 1986)
- Cry Wolf (Extended Version) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20610-0, 1986)
- Manhattan Skyline (Extended Version) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20642-0, 1987)
- I’ve Been Losing You (Dub) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20557-0, 1986)
- Soft Rains of April (Original Mix) (U.K. 7″ B-side to “Stay on These Roads” – WEA W 7936, 1988)
- We’re Looking for the Whales (Live) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20642-0, 1987)