Tages (pronounced “tah-guess”) are universally known as the best sixties pop band from Sweden. They struck it big early, hitting the Swedish #1 with “Sleep Little Girl” in 1964! Their efforts in the psychedelic era would be their last. Studio should sit comfortably next to masterpieces of the year, a few notches closer to Odessey & Oracle than Sgt. Pepper and not very far at all from the following year’s Birthday Party. Thanks to the tape cuts, orchestration, harmonies, and studio tricks, it even sounds like they got their hands on a copy of Brian Wilson’s unreleased Smile tapes. Certainly, anybody willing to spend enough time exploring all the rabbit holes in the Beatles catalog owes themselves a trip through this marvelous record.
The album opener, Have You Seen Your Brother Lately, proves how apt the name “Studio” is for such a creatively produced statement. Few won’t be sold within the first few seconds, hearing a looping string quartet surrender to a commanding rhythm highlighted by pounding drums and boxy plucked bass lines. Delicate touches of grand piano and kazoo bust open the door to an album rife with auditory treats and excellent craftmanship. Vocals are good, reminding me of an edgier Colin Blunstone, with plenty of fine backup parts.
But Studio is a diverse affair, It’s My Life, the 2nd track growls out dark guitar distortions straight from the Move arsenal under workout vocal leads. The drums stand out, consistently providing ahead-of-their-time and vicious beats. Tunes are often loaded with orchestration, like the soft ballad, People Without Faces, and bouncier brass marches like What’s The Time and She’s Having A Baby Now. Tasteful psychedelic treatments abound in backwards guitar leads, weird stomp boxes, and sound effects sprinkled throughout the record. Songs are short pop winners, maybe missing some of the excellent songwriting of their contemporaries, but the entrancing production really makes up for the lack of a better bridge or two.
The only real dissapointment is the lack of a proper CD or LP reissue (thankfully, the album is available digitally). An album like Studio should have propelled them to top 500 lists worldwide, rather than remain a Swedish rocknroll footnote. Members of the Tages would form Blond in 1969 but disband by 1970.
“Have You Seen Your Brother Lately”
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