Blue Swede – Out Of The Blue (1975)

Blue Swede - Out Of The Blue (1975)
Artist: Blue Swede
Album: Out Of The Blue
Genre: Funk, Soul
Origin: Sweden
Released: 1975
Quality: mp3, 128 kbps
Tracklist:
Hush I’m Alive (3:30)
Don’t Be Fooled By The Name (3:55)
Dr Rock And Roll (2:31)
Baby I Need Your Loving (3:59)
Rock ‘N’ Roll (3:54)
Out Of The Blue (4:00)
Flashback (3:31)
Half-Breed (2:53)
Why Don’t You Go Your Way (3:48)
I Didn’t Sing (In The New York Subway) (3:08)

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Out of the Blue by Blue Swede leans more toward an American band like Wild Cherry than their European neighbors, the Shocking Blue, and that’s a shame because the album is more listenable than one would picture after hearing their two Top Ten hits from the 1974 Hooked on a Feeling debut. Crassly commercial, they do no favors to Cher’s number one hit from the previous year, 1973’s “Half Breed,” but Alan O’Day’s “Flashback” comes off with credibility. Lead singer Bjorn Skifs and producer Ben Palmers co-write three of the songs here, “Why Don’t You Go Your Way” sounding like a disco cover act emulating the Grass Roots. As funny as that sounds, it isn’t as bad as the notion that description might conjure, and lo and behold, the album concludes with Grass Roots songwriters Lambert and Potters’ “I Didn’t Sing (In the New York Subway),” which does sound like a show band performing in Rob Grill’s shadow. Skif’s vocals fall somewhere between Rare Earth and the aforementioned Wild Cherry, not the thing to endear him to fans of the Velvet Underground. Following a dreadful rendition of “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” which is so insincere Levi Stubbs would be perfectly justified in filing a lawsuit for potential damage to his fan’s memories, is a version of Lou Reed’s “Rock & Roll” which destroys any of the compassion the high points of this album evoked from the listener. This is a remake of the Runaways’ Kim Fowley’s version, which itself was a copy of the Bob Ezrin/Mitch Ryder arrangement, a masterpiece which it is said Reed called the best cover of one of his tunes he had ever heard (at that point in time). There’s no denying Blue Swede was tasteful in their selection of songs, but when they performed “Rock & Roll” on The Midnight Special television program it probably stifled sales. Lou Reed’s “Rock & Roll” is an underground standard, and though the group had a good grasp of the English language, they failed to grasp the nuances of what makes something hip to those attracted to specific genres. What is unique, though, is the opening track, a bizarre concoction of the Joe South/Deep Purple smash “Hush” with Tommy James and Peter Lucia’s “I’m Alive.” This is borderline brilliant, a combination of two songs which work so well together someone might be able to do to Blue Swede what they did to Jonathan King when they ripped off his rendition of “Hooked on a Feeling” to get them all this U.S. attention in the first place. Any group with the good taste to put a Tommy James and Lou Reed composition on the same album at least can be lauded for having some good fan sense. It’s just when you hear their original, “Don’t Be Fooled by the Name,” that, once again, everything gets shot to hell. This is not a parody, and because they do this with a straight face, the only thing that might stop you from smashing this disc against the wall is to consider it as warped humor. A tough one.
Review by Joe Viglione