Yikes, what happened? I remember succumbing to the album, hating it from the beginning, but Sweden’s only radio station P3, and Sweden’s only TV channel played the album literally back to back all day long so what could you do?
I bought it maybe in June 1981, I remember biking down to the record store getting it for 49 SEK. Without the bonus EP of course, because I was stupid even back then. Had I only biked 400 m longer, to Domus, I could have gotten the album with the EP. For the same price. But who needed the four extra tracks??
Moderna Tider was Gyllene Tider’s “sophomore album,” i.e. album #2. Very hard to follow up since the previous album, Gyllene Tider, had been a huge success.
Moderna Tider had advance orders of more than 130.000 copies and is one of Gyllene Tider’s most sold albums ever. The album had sold 304,680 copies by December 31, 1982. This is a major staple in Sweden’s music history, and I dare saying without it there would have been no Roxette.
The original title was Självutlösning (Self Ejaculation/Camera Remote Control,) a strange pun in English, that stayed in line with the camera and selfies on the sleeve. The name was changed in the 11th hour to Moderna Tider (Modern Times) after the Charlie Chaplin movie.
There was some controversy, mainly in the tabloids, around the making of the album. Some of the demos written for the album were discarded by head of A&R Kjell Andersson at EMI Sweden, who worked very closely with the band. “Juvenile” was one of his comments. The songs were “too sexy” with the lyrics being about – sex. Titles such as “Min tjej läser Playgirl” (My Girlfriend Reads Playgirl) and “Gå hem innan du lägger dej” (Go Home Before You Go to Bed) didn’t go well with Kjell. Songs like “Det hjärta som brinner” (This Heart’s on Fire,) “Povel Ramel, Paul McCartney och jag” (Povel Ramel, Paul McCartney and I) and “Vänta på mej!” (Wait for Me!) were written early on and are of course all on the album.
“Cilla 16 (Söt som socker)” (Cilla 16 (Sweet as Sugar)) was cut due to it being too similar to a Nick Lowe song. Per himself didn’t like the lyrics of “Vilken annan tjej som helst” (Any Other Girl), and rewrote it into “Min tjej och jag” (My Girlfriend and I) and put Micke on the vocals. Apart from that, Per, and Mats, wrote around 25-30 songs for the album during more than a year, some of which passed Kjell’s “excellent!” filter while some got caught in the “spam” filter. Just like it normally is in a healthy self-sustaining band. By the way, “Gå hem innan du lägger dej” resurfaced in 1995 as “Keep the Radio on (This is the Perfect Song)!
During late 1981-’82 Gyllene Tider recorded 15 of their songs in English, upon a request (which included specifically the cover songs “California Sun” and “I Go to Pieces”) from EMI USA. The thought was to send out an actual album with a real sleeve as a demo to the EMI companies around the world, to make a better impression rather than just sending out a boring cassette. The album was however never printed. No sleeve exists either, at least not known. Oh yes, since “Gyllene Tider” was a tad complicated to say outside of Sweden, they named themselves “Modern Times.” Of course there was already a band named that, so a few years later they named themselves “Roxette”…
Ten songs made the cut although surprisingly not the requested song “California Sun.” Other songs recorded are “Buddy Holly,” “Beating Heart” (När vi två blir en,) “To Play With Fire” (Leka med elden,) “Summer City” (Sommartider) and of course “California Sun” (Tylö sun.) Apart from the two songs on the “Beating Heart” single, “I Go to Pieces” from “Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång” and “Threnody” on the compilation album Radio Parlophone 2, these songs have never appeared anywhere. Some of the songs are totally re-recorded, while others are remixed overdubs. In 2019 “Beating Heart” and “To Play with Fire” were digitally released on the compilation Tidiga Tider. The first version of “Beating Heart” was a different version though, but that was rectified within days.
The album’s track list was published in the book Att vara Per Gessle. As I said, three of these have been released, plus the previously mentioned “To Play with Fire.”
1. Fever in the Night (Ljudet av ett annat hjärta)
2. Breaking Up is Hard to Do
3. Girl in a Cole Porter-Song (Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång)
4. I Go to Pieces
6. Excited (Upphetsad)
7. Been Lonely Too Long (På jakt efter liv)
8. Just Another Heartache (Vart tog alla vänner vägen?)
9. This Heart’s on Fire (Det hjärta som brinner)
10. When All the Lights Have Faded Away (När alla vännerna gått hem)
Here’s the ”Beating Heart” press release (verbatim):
For many people abroad, Sweden is ABBA, Volvo and Björn Borg. But a country can’t survive on such small amounts of activity and when it comes to music Sweden has plenty more to offer! For example a bunch of young guys called GYLLENE TIDER.
In 1977 two of these boys, PER GESSLE and MATS PERSSON started writing songs and soon after, they had put the band together with MIKAEL ANDERSSON, ANDERS HERRLIN and GÖRAN FRITZSON helping them out.
At their own expense the boys cut an E.P. which eventually arrived at EMI and the rest is kind of “rags to riches” story here in Sweden.
During the summer of -79 PER and MATS wrote material for GYLLENE TIDER’s first album. Their goal was to make the LP a collection of single material. Ambitious maybe! But obviously they succeeded. More than 140,000 bought the records which in Sweden is a more than satisfying figure.
From the album two singles were chosen. “Flickorna på TV2” and “Ska vi älska så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly” selling 25,000 and 10,000 resp.
This was a lift-off which even impressed the boys in the group but also made them aware of the fact that their next album must be even better. They had seen too many “one-hit-wonders.” So with this in mind, they wrote the material for album No. two, which was called “Moderna Tider” (“Modern Times”).
No-one can doubt the fact they’d done it again…
The album has to date sold 270,000 copies which make them strong competitors even to ABBA on the Scandinavian market. The single drawn from the LP “När vi två blir en” has sold 90,000 copies.
And now EMI have stared considering territory outside Scandinavia. A single has therefore been recorded in English.
On the one side is “Beating Heart” and on the other a ballad called “To Play with Fire.”
Both tracks show the quality and capacity in the group.
As it is absolutely impossible for people outside Scandinavia to pronounce the name GYLLENE TIDER the boys call themselves MODERN TIMES on the sleeve.
But although the name is changed the music isn’t! And there’s plenty more to come…
1. Vänta på mej!
2. Tuff tuff tuff (som ett lokomotiv)
3. På jakt efter liv
4. När vi två blir en
5. Det hjärta som brinner
6. Du spelar svår att nå
7. Kom intill mej
8. (Kom så ska vi) Leva livet
9. Min tjej och jag
10. Povel Ramel, Paul McCartney och jag
11. Chrissie, hur mår du?
12. Kärleken är inte blind (men ganska närsynt)
13. När alla vännerna gått hem
Bonus tracks 1990 & 2004
14. Gyllene Tider för rock’n roll
15. Vill ha ett svar!
16. Och jorden den är rund…
17. Ge mej inte det där
18. Ljudet av ett annat hjärta
20. För dina bruna ögon skull
21. Vem tycker om dej?
22. Leka med elden
När vi två blir en (16 consecutive weeks as #1!)
(Kom så ska vi) Leva livet
Chart peak position
Sweden: #1 March 27, 1981
Norway: #2 March 1981
1981-03-10 // EMI Parlophone / Catalogue 7C 062-35825: 13 track LP and MC, the first edition came with the bonus EP “Swing & Sweet”
1990-07-03 // EMI Parlophone / Catalogue 7942202: 22 track CD in Kompakta Tider
2004-03-24 // EMI Parlophone / Catalogue 5767762: 13 track CD + 9 track bonus CD, digipak
2007-04-11 // EMI Parlophone / Catalogue 3630792: 13 track CD
2019-05-21 // Cosmos Music / Catalogue: 7332334438291 13 track LP in black and turquoise vinyl
There will be an anniversary box. Remember where you saw it first.