Out Of This World Rock candy After the mega-hit, a hard-won victory.
It was an extraordinary song that lifted a previously little known Swedish rock band to the dizzying heights of global stardom in 1986. The Final Countdown, written by Europe’s singer Joey Tempest, combined the galloping thunder of Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills, the sci-fi fantasy of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and – Tempest’s master stroke – a blaring keyboard riff with the pomposity of ELP’s Fanfare For The Common Man and the pop bounce of Van Halen’s Jump.
The Final Countdown powered to No.1 in twenty-five countries, and from the album of the same name there were two other big hits – the anthem Rock The Night and power ballad Carrie. But with success came trouble. By the end of ‘86, guitarist and founding member John Norum had quit, grumbling that Europe had become “a teeny-bopper bubblegum band”.
The Final Countdown was a hard act to follow. Harder still with Norum gone. And yet from a period of turmoil and huge pressure the band emerged in 1988 with a brilliant album, boldly titled Out Of This World. With new guitarist Kee Marcello, formerly of glamrockers Easy Action, fitting in seamlessly, Norum wasn’t missed. And the strength of this album, full of high-class heavy rock, made nonsense of Norum’s parting shot.
Superstitious, the opening track and lead single, rocked in the grand manner of vintage Deep Purple, with parping keyboards adding a little echo of The Final Countdown to an epic chorus, and a beautiful, melodic solo from Marcello reminiscent of Michael Schenker at his peak. Open Your Heart, first featured on the band’s 1984 album Wings Of Tomorrow, was equal to anything on Whitesnake’s 1987. And in Ready Or Not there was one of the great feel-good rock songs of the 80s.
The album was a sizable hit, selling a million copies in America, but when the follow-up, Prisoners In Paradise, was released in 1991, Europe, like so many of their peers, got lost in the great grunge gold rush. After the band split in 1992, it was eleven years before they returned, with Norum reinstated.
In recent times, Europe have made some great records in the heavier style of their earliest work. The Final Countdown will always be their most famous album, but Out Of This World is arguably their best.