been one band
amongst many others, EUROPE was now top priority for CBS Records, second only
to Michael Jackson, when it was time to record the next album. "I guess
Joey was the one who was under the most pressure," Mic said, "He was the one writing most of the material. We did our best in backing him up.
Without having to say it you knew that repeating a success was the main thing."
In March 1988 EUROPE went to London to start working on their fourth album, "Out of This World". The album was recorded at the Olympic Studios, Townhouse Studios and Swanyard Studios between March and June. It was produced by Ron Nevison, who had previously worked with such bands as Led Zeppelin, KISS and The Who. "We wanted Ron because he'd done the classic UFO albums 'Lights Out' and 'Obsession', and the early Michael Schenker Group stuff," Joey said. But the band wasn't satisfied with Nevison's production and thought that he made too many decisions about the sound. "It sounds way too slick," Ian said. "I'm sorry to have to admit it, but perhaps Ron Nevison wasn't the right choice," Kee said, "He wimped it out a little bit too much. Y'see, the songs sounded a lot heavier, but Ron came in and took the spontaneity away. But listen, I don't think we can put the entire blame on him - we should have been more aware of what was happening. It's funny, but our rehearsal tapes from that album are great. We only recorded them on a cassette player, but you can easily hear how rough and raw the songs sounded."
The first single from the album, "Superstitious", was released in July 1988 and went straight to number 1 on the Swedish singles chart. "Out of This World" was released on August 9 and also went to number 1 in Sweden. During the summer EUROPE did their second US tour, this time as "special guests" for Def Leppard. "When we made the deal with Leppard, their 'Hysteria' album had started to drop in sales so they wanted someone to join them to help sell tickets and asked us if we wanted to do it," Ian said, "Just a week after we've signed the deal they got a hit with 'Pour Some Sugar on Me' and everyone including the devil and his brother bought 'Hysteria'. Looking back I guess they didn't need us but we got maximum exposure and made some money at the same time. The funniest thing was that they asked us personally if we wanted to go with them on their indoor tour in the fall but we were already booked for an Asian tour so it meant breaking all those contracts plus our management thought that tour was more important. Lesson learned is that if you get a chance to tour with a Def Leppard going up, you take it."
Before leaving USA, EUROPE shot the music video for "Superstitious" at an old castle on Long Island, New York with Nick Morris as the director. "Out of This World" peaked at number 19 on the Billboard 200 album chart and "Superstitious" peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Then the band went to Europe to do a promotion tour - a month of interviews and playback shows. "The worst month of my life," Levén said, "We were supposed to come back. We were supposed to do South America, but we canceled that because 'Out of This World' wasn't doing that good. The biggest mistake was leaving the Def Leppard tour."
A newly recorded version of "Open Your Heart" was released as the second single in October. "I remember recording it the first time, it was a really special moment and was a very important song for us to get signed to America," Joey said, "When we were later recording for the 'Out of This World' album in London we wanted to make the album a bit broader, maybe we didn’t have enough ballads or something. We were discussing the album and we felt that it was such a great song that it deserved a better, a greater chance so we decided to re-record it and I think it turned out really well." The music video was shot in London and directed by Doug Freel and Jean Pellerin.
In November EUROPE started an Asian tour with a charity show at a soccer stadium in Bombay, India in front of 60 000 people. The tour included two nights at the legendary arena Budokan in Tokyo, during which the band shot the music video for the third single, "Let the Good Times Rock", once again with Nick Morris as the director. The single was released in March 1989. The European "Out of This World" tour started in Malmö, Sweden on January 10, 1989. The tour was a great audience success, with sold out concerts in almost every country. The tour ended in Brussels, Belgium on April 5. At that time the sales of "Out of This World" had stopped at two million copies. Compared to "The Final Countdown", this was a fiasco. "I feel that the success with 'The Final Countdown' was one of the reasons why we broke up," Mic said, "When the rest of the albums didn't sell as much, we lost the spark. And that was even though the other albums didn't flop. They all sold a couple of millions. Perhaps we were a band that should have sold one million instead of six. We weren't mentally prepared for that tremendous success."
Prisoners in Paradise
In the summer of 1989 EUROPE started working on their fifth album. "After the 'Out
of This World' tour we decided we wanted to spend more time in the States than
we had previously," Ian said, "It was partly because we needed to get
some inspiration but also because we had both our management and record company
there, so we figured it would be easier to keep a good relationship with them if
we were there. We packed our bags and went to L.A., rented some apartments in
Hollywood and a rehearsal studio at S.I.R. where we rehearsed and jammed for
some months." The songwriting process had changed compared to the previous albums. "On the earlier
albums Joey would bring us more or less ready-produced demos that we'd just add
our personal touches to. But this time around, Joey just
presented us a rough idea on guitar or we would simply jam on ideas and build
songs from there. Some of the songs we wrote during these sessions were 'Little
Bit of Lovin', 'Seventh Sign', 'Bad Blood' and 'Homeland.'"
During those sessions they got an offer to play at a rock festival in Milton Keynes, England. That festival took place instead of the annual Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, which had been cancelled that year due to the deaths of two fans during the Guns N' Roses concert at the Monsters of Rock festival in 1988. "Our Swedish manager at the time thought it would be stupid to break up the writing session in favor of the festival," Ian said, "While our American manager, Herbie Herbert, told us that 'he wouldn't piss on us if we were on fire' if we turned down the offer." The Milton Keynes festival took place on August 19, 1989 - Joey's 26th birthday. EUROPE played for more than 60,000 people and the setlist included four new songs: "Yesterday's News", "Seventh Sign", "Little Bit of Lovin'" and "Wild Child". The festival bill also featured Skid Row, Vixen and headliners Bon Jovi. "It turned out to be not only one of our biggest gigs ever but also one of the most important gigs we ever played in Britain. It gave EUROPE a lot of rock 'n' roll credibility which we didn't exactly have a lot of in Britain! The headlines in the rock magazines said, 'EUROPE louder than Mötorhead!' The funny thing was that the night before the gig I met Lemmy from Motörhead at a rock club in London, and when I introduced myself to him I said, 'Hi! I'm Ian from the rock band EUROPE.' He just looked at me and replied, 'EUROPE is not a rock band!' The revenge was sweeter than sugar!"
Later that year, on September 17, EUROPE did a concert at the nightclub Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. "We were approached by people from the legendary Whisky A Go Go asking us if we wanted to play a surprise gig at the club," Ian said, "We thought it sounded like a cool idea, but since we didn't have any work permits we were a little concerned what Uncle Sam might say. The whole problem was solved when somebody came up with the idea that we should play under a fake name, so we ended up playing the gig as the 'Le Baron Boys,' named after the rental cars we had. The show gave us a chance to try out more new songs, which were in an early stage, on the crowd."
In the fall of 1989 they decided to fire their manager, Thomas Erdtman. "Many of us saw Erdtman as a slippery person, but if we were gonna go against him, we had to be united," Mic said, "This took us several years and we weren't that united until the time of the tour with Def Leppard in 1988." John Norum said he was "surprised that it took so long. The decision was taken five years too late." Norum has claimed that Erdtman has swindled millions of dollars from the band, leaving only crumbs for them in the end. "There has to be something wrong when he has a big house, five cars, summerhouses everywhere and a big boat, while the band has to share a fucking house in the West Indies!"
In February 1990 EUROPE went to Chile to play two concerts at an annual music festival in Viña Del Mar. In the same year they spent time in the West-Indies, London, San Francisco and Los Angeles writing more songs. "After a short break we went back to the States and continued to write songs," Ian said, "First in L.A., then later in San Francisco where we wrote songs including 'Talk to Me, 'Girl from Lebanon', 'Homeland' and ''Til My Heart Beats Down Your Door'." When they had 24 songs they started to approach producers. "We had meetings with Terry Thomas and we went to Vancouver where we met Bob Rock at a strip club (a very distracting, yet very pleasant, experience!). He was very interested in the project but unfortunately he'd just started working with the Metallica (Black) album, so he was kind of busy."
"But one night when we played The Whisky on the Sunset Strip, there was another producer in the room checking us out," Joey said, "It was Beau Hill. We got along great and he ended up being our producer."
"After about four weeks of pre-production, we went to the Enterprise studio in Burbank, California," Ian said, "Everything went very smooth; the drum tracks were done in two days and the whole session done in about ten weeks. We were very happy with the way the songs came together and we felt that this was gonna be the best EUROPE album to date."
"The only real problem has been in selecting how many and which songs to put on the album," Joey said, "We actually want all fourteen, but because of the total amount of playing time, we might just have a job fitting it all on. I think that we'll end up with twelve songs and a couple of B-sides. We started out with twenty-four songs which we cut down to fourteen."
The album was finished in November 1990, and working titles for the album were "Break Free" and "Mind in the Gutter". After that, the band spent the month of December touring in South-East Asia. However, CBS Records, which was later renamed Sony Music Entertainment, wasn't satisfied with the album and cancelled the release. "During the recording there was a restructuring in management at CBS," Ian said, "Everyone involved in EUROPE were gone over one night and replaced with new people who had their key projects. We went from being a priority band to an inherited project. The new people didn't like what they heard when we played them new material. 'We don't hear any hits - write more,' they said. That's when we lost a lot of the fire. We were being ass-fucked by the record company that used to back us up."
Four new songs were written: "All or Nothing", "Halfway to Heaven", "I'll Cry for You" and "Prisoners in Paradise". The band went back to the Enterprise studios to record those four songs and remix the rest of the album. Suddenly there were too many songs for one album, and eventually it was decided that four songs from the original track list had to go, namely "Here Comes the Night", "Sweet Love Child", "Mr. Government Man" and "Long Time Comin'". Advance tapes were made and the album title was decided to be "Prisoners in Paradise". But then CBS struck again: Two more songs, "Break Free" and "Yesterday's News", were taken off the album, due to CBS' claim that the length of the album would have been too long if they had remained on the album. Instead they were included as bonus tracks on the Japanese edition.
Several demos that were recorded by the band around 1989-90 are available on the bootleg "Le Baron Boys", which has been spread all over the Internet. The bootleg includes early versions of songs like "Little Bit of Lovin'", "Talk to Me", "Seventh Sign" and "Break Free", as well as unreleased songs such as "Don't Know How to Love No More", "Wanted Man", "Rainbow Warrior" and "Blame It on Me". Fans have asked for an official release of these demos, but the band hasn't announced such plans as of yet. "They were recorded on a smaller format," Joey said, referring to the fact that the demos were only recorded on an 8-track recorder. "The quality of the original recording might not be up to a high standard, because it was only demos we did for the 'Prisoners' album, really."
"On the bootlegs the sound quality is from tape," Ian said, "I don't know if multitrack recordings exist. The only option would be to re-record them again. I listen to these tapes sometimes. There is interesting material in there."
During the recording sessions in Burbank, EUROPE got in touch with John Norum again. They hit it off so well that Norum asked Joey to sing on his second solo album, "Face the Truth". Joey agreed, and the two of them recorded the duet "We Will Be Strong", which was released as the first single from "Face the Truth" in 1992. Joey also appeared in the music video for the song and co-wrote another song on the album, "Counting on Your Love".
The album "Prisoners in Paradise" was released on September 23, 1991 and peaked at number 9 on the Swedish album chart. It reached the Top 20 in Norway and Switzerland, but only managed to reach number 61 on the UK album chart. It sold about a million copies worldwide. The title track was released as the first single in Europe, except for the UK, and it peaked at number 8 on the Swedish singles chart. The music video was directed by Nick Morris and shot at the Arab World Institute in Paris, France. The second single was "I'll Cry for You", which peaked at number 28 on the UK singles chart. The band recorded an acoustic version of "I'll Cry for You" at the Soundtrade Studios in Stockholm, and it was included as an extra track on the single. The music video was directed by Phil Tuckett and shot at the Circus in Stockholm. On New Year's Eve 1991, EUROPE played a concert at the Tokyo Dome together with Tesla, Thunder and headliners Metallica in front of 30 000 people. An interesting side note is that the concert was called "Final Countdown '91".
On January 7, 1992, EUROPE kicked off the "Prisoners in Paradise" tour in Helsinki, Finland. Quite often the band had three guitarists on stage: Kee, Joey and Mic, in order to reflect the more guitar-based sound of the album. The last single from the album, "Halfway to Heaven", was released during the tour and the music video was shot at The Marquee in London. At this point the band started to discuss if they should take a break. "I remember in the tour bus afterwards, we were talking about where the whole thing was going, and I think at the time the consensus amongst the band was that we really felt ready for a break," Joey said, "After all, we’d been a touring rock band for years. We did our first album in 1983 and started touring almost straight away. Then when ‘The Final Countdown’ broke in 1986... Basically we never went home, ha, ha! We felt that it was time to put some roots down, and I was really into the idea of making my own solo album."
"We didn't say we quit," Kee said, "We decided to go, 'Let's put a lid on this, let it rest.' Because right then grunge was going crazy all over the place. Melodic rock was fucking out. We were talking, 'Do we wanna do a record in this climate? I think not. Nobody's gonna dig it anyway. Nobody is gonna understand it. So let's put it on hold.'"
"I remember things differently," John Levén said, "The only person who wanted to stop was Joey. He brought up the subject of a break, but it seemed like a good idea. We had tax problems in Sweden and a lot of bad press. We were fed up with the financial side of the music business."
Another factor was the growing tension between Joey and Kee. "Joey and me didn’t get along," Kee said, "In the beginning, when I was hesitating about the offer to join the band, their manager promised me to take place in the drivers seat together with Joey, songwriting and direction wise. I wouldn’t have accepted the offer otherwise. But when it came down to picking songs for 'Out of This World', which I wrote and demoed 8 tracks for, I barely got one of my songs on the album ('Just the Beginning.') Thomas Erdtman and Joey never intended to seriously let me in on the songwriting, and this made me very frustrated. On 'Prisoners in Paradise' I tried to tag on as co-writer on Joey's stuff, but it never really panned out. Don’t get me wrong, I'm very proud of how those songs and albums turned out anyway, but I guess the way I felt about it really took its toll on me. I tried to be 'just the guitar player' in the band for a while, but I just couldn't do it."
"Since Joey had done so well with writing the songs so far, there was no point in Kee beginning to write too," Ian said, " That's why we didn't support him."
"There was always tension between Joey and our guitarists," Mic said, "When it came to the tension with John, something good came out of it. Joey was inspired. When Kee joined the band and wanted to write and produce, as Erdtman had promised him without our knowledge, there wasn't the same positive creativity. And Kee was disappointed when he noticed that no one supported him when it came to the songwriting. The conflict between Joey and Kee was the beginning of the end for EUROPE."
EUROPE played the last concert on the tour in Portsmouth, England, on March 15, 1992. After that, the band members moved back to Sweden, while Joey decided to stay in England because he had met a girl in London, Lisa Worthington, who later became his wife. In 1993 Joey and Thomas Witt compiled a EUROPE greatest hits album, "1982–1992". It included the biggest hits, some album tracks and some rarities such as the acoustic version of "I'll Cry for You", "Sweet Love Child" and "Yesterday's News".
After they moved back to Sweden, the band members faced tax problems. Their move to the Caribbean to avoid the taxes, wasn't approved by the Swedish taxation authorities. They considered the band still being resident in Sweden, so they had to pay the taxes. "We did end up with fantastic debts to the taxman," Kee said, "They were claiming we were not living in America or the West Indies as we said that we were – we were in fact! So we had a long battle in court about this for years, and finally in 1997 we lost in the supreme court. That was terrible, we had to re-think our entire lives. You’re supposed to live on what they call ‘existence minimum’ – you’re allowed to have a stereo and a TV, and a video, but you can’t really go beyond that. I have to say though that the authorities have been pretty good to talk to – they could have been much worse to us – they could have sent someone to come to our places and pick up anything worth any money, which they didn’t. They thought it was enough just to have this terrible, stressful debt on your shoulders – for at least five years we knew we really couldn’t do anything about the situation. Luckily I got rid of that debt five years later, so it’s gone now." The tax debts expired in 2002 and nowadays the band members prefer not to talk about their former tax problems. "It doesn't affect our business today," Joey said.
The band members spent the rest of the 90s working on several projects. Joey recorded two solo albums and Kee recorded one. Mic, Ian and John Levén toured and recorded with former Deep Purple/Black Sabbath member Glenn Hughes and various bands such as Brazen Abbot.
The first reunion
The band members started to
discuss the possibility of a EUROPE reunion in 1998. "Mic and Ian came over to see me in Ireland,"
Joey said, "Then whilst we were there, John Norum called from LA, and we were like 'Yes, maybe now is the right time to get things started
In 1999 Sony Music kept asking Joey to do something special with "The Final Countdown" for the new millennium. Joey decided to record an ambient version of the song in January, calling it the "Blue Version". Sony Music weren't satisfied with it, though, so they decided to hire producers Brian Rawling and Gary Miller to produce a dance remix that used Joey's vocals from the original mastertapes. The result was "The Final Countdown 2000", released on December 12, 1999. At the same time the greatest hits album "1982–2000" was released, which was basically a reissue of "1982–1992" with different cover art and "The Final Countdown 2000" included as a bonus track. However, EUROPE didn't want the remix to be on the album. They had suggested that two unreleased songs from the "Prisoners in Paradise" sessions, "Here Comes the Night" and "Mr. Government Man", should be included instead, but Sony Music didn't seem to care.
In September 1999 there was an article in the Swedish newspaper "Expressen", saying that EUROPE was going to reunite for New Year's Eve. The band was to receive 1 or 2 million Kronor (140 000 - 280 000 US Dollars). The band denied that it was true. During the following months, it became clear that EUROPE was going to reunite for one show in Stockholm on New Year's Eve. Rumors had it that they would be paid 21 million Kronor (2.9 million US Dollars), to play "Rock the Night" and "The Final Countdown". Joey Tempest would apparently get 11 million Kronor, and the rest of the members would split the remaining 10. In reality each member, including Joey, got a half million Kronor.
For that night, EUROPE had a six members line-up: Joey Tempest, John Norum, John Levén, Mic Michaeli, Ian Haugland and Kee Marcello, making this the first EUROPE concert with two lead guitarists on stage. The band went on stage when it was 15 minutes to midnight, it was 15 degrees below zero (Celsius), and Joey had a cold. They did a great show, the only bummer being the vocals. Joey couldn't reach the high notes like he did years ago, but after all he did have a cold. When the last note of "The Final Countdown" had been played, it was just minutes left of 1999, and Joey Tempest said, "Tack Stockholm!" (Thank you Stockholm). Then the band left the stage, and the King of Sweden made a short speech and proposed a toast. Then there were enormous fireworks, and the new millennium had begun. The concert was broadcasted live on Swedish TV3, and Joey said in a late interview that it had been great to play together with the guys again. The next day, the Swedish newspapers "Aftonbladet" and "Expressen" both gave excellent reviews of the concert, and even had a comment from John Norum saying: "So far we have no plans, but I really hope we'll get together to play again."
On April 14, 2000, the band members made an appearance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Stockholm. They had donated some memorabilia for display in a big glass unit, such as gold and platinum records, hand-written lyrics and Joey's jacket from the "Prisoners in Paradise" video. The band also received gold records for the sales of "1982-1992" in Sweden. The cover band Playboys was at the cafe to play a short set of EUROPE classics - interestingly enough, they didn't have any keyboards on stage - and right before they were going to play the last song, Ian came up on stage. Soon he was joined by John Levén, John Norum and Kee. Together with the Playboys vocalist, they tore into "Rock the Night". Right before the second-to-last chorus, Joey and Mic hit the stage. Since there weren't any keyboards on stage, Mic had to settle for backing vocals. The next day, there was an article in "Aftonbladet" saying that there would be a new EUROPE album and a tour in 2001. This wasn't true, however.
In December 2002, EUROPE announced that they would release a box set to celebrate their 20th anniversary as recording artists. Joey Tempest revealed that a 2-CD "Greatest Hits" album and a DVD, all packed with unreleased material, was planned to be released in 2003, exactly 20 years after the release of the "Europe" album. But the release date for this set was heavily delayed.