Before "Dancing Queen," "Fernando" and the rest, ABBA's Benny Andersson was the keyboardist and frequent songwriter for The Hep Stars. The Stockholm-formed group became Sweden's most successful English-language pop group, paving the way for Andersson's subsequent triumphs with ABBA and on the musical theatre stage. Following its 2013 reissue of The Hep Stars' 1968 album It's Been a Long, Long Time, Cherry Red's RPM label returns to the group's catalogue for Like We Used To: The Anthology 1965-1967. This release marks the 50th anniversary of the group's first appearance on the Swedish charts.
Christer "Chrille" Pettersson (drums) and Lennart "Lelle" Hegland (bass) founded the group in Stockholm, 1963. They were joined by Hans Ostlund (keyboards) and Jan "Janne" Frisk (guitar/vocals). Before long, Sven "Svenne" Hedlund joined on lead vocals, but the classic Hep Stars line-up wasn't solidified until Ostlund departed shortly after the release of the band's first single in 1964. Hedlund recommended Benny Andersson to take the keyboardist's place, and the rest is history. The tracks on Like We Used To feature the familiar line-up of Hedlund, Frisk, Andersson, Hegland and Pettersson - or Svenne, Janne, Benny, Lelle and Chrille, as they were known to their fans.
The new anthology, produced by Kieron Tyler and Mark Stratford, includes high-octane live tracks from 1965's Hep Stars on Stage and studio tracks from 1966's self-titled LP, plus rare singles. Among the tracks reprised from The Hep Stars is "Isn't It Easy to Say," the very first songwriting collaboration between Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, then a member of rival group The Hootenanny Singers. Ulvaeus' "No Time," originally recorded by The Hootenanny Singers, is also included in The Hep Stars' cover version. While ten Andersson originals are included, there are also choice covers from the diverse likes of The Premiers (a No. 2 Swedish hit for the Hep Stars), Vince Taylor ("Cadillac," a No. 1 Swedish hit for the band based on The Renegades' version), Chad and Jeremy ("Should I"), The Trashmen ("Surfin' Bird"), Ray Charles ("What'd I Say"), Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon ("Tallahassee Lassie") and The Kinks ("So Mystifying"). All of the songs trace The Hep Stars' development from a beat group into other, more sophisticated pop styles that foreshadowed Andersson's work with ABBA.
Every song on Like We Used To: The Anthology has been remastered by Simon Murphy from the original master tapes. All but three tracks are in mono; three tracks from The Hep Stars are in stereo as the LP was not issued in mono. Three 1967 cuts are presented in their previously unreleased "English masters," derived from tapes prepared for British releases that never materialized. Andersson's "Lady Lady" is also featured in a "new" version; while the main portion of the song is what was released on The Hep Stars, the producers have reinstated the vocal intro previously included only on the Belgian single version.
Kieron Tyler provides new notes about the group's history, and Svenne Hedlund adds his own fascinating recollections about working in The Hep Stars and with the future ABBA superstar. The 25-track collection is available now from RPM Records at the links below!
- Farmer John (Olga SO06, 1965)
- Cadillac (Olga SO09, 1965)
- Bald Headed Woman (Olga SO11, 1965)
- No Response (Olga SO12, 1965)
- So Mystifying (Olga SO13, 1965)
- Should I (Olga SO17, 1965)
- Sunny Girl (Olga SO21, 1966)
- Wedding (Olga SO25, 1966)
- Consolation (Olga SO33, 1966)
- No Time (Olga LPO 04, 1966)
- Isn't It Easy to Say (English Master) (Olga LPO 04. 1966)
- Lady Lady (Olga LPO 04, 1966)
- Morning Comes After Night (Olga LPO 04, 1966)
- Malaika (Olga SO38, 1967)
- It's Nice to Be Back (Olga SO38, 1967)
- She Will Love You (English Master) (Olga SO50, 1967)
- Like You Used to Do (English Master) (Olga SO50, 1967)
- Christmas on My Mind (Olga SO47, 1967)
- Cadillac (Olga LP02, 1965)
- What'd I Say (Olga LP02, 1965)
- So Mystifying (Olga LP02, 1965)
- Surfin' Bird (Olga LP02, 1965)
- Tallahassee Lassie (Olga LP02, 1965)
- No Response (Olga LP02, 1965)
- Farmer John (Olga LP02, 1965)
All tracks mono except Tracks 11-13