From an old record box: a-ha – Stay On These Roads

It’s a tough call, trying to work out which of Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig is my favourite Bond.  Craig has definitely got the better movies and the benefit of being the vehicle for post-Bourne rejuvenation of the franchise.  But that can’t be enough.

Dalton only got two movies, and he tends to get dismissed by public and critics, all factors that make me much more sympathetic to his cause.   Plus, Craig is a bit too much; a bit too muscles, a bit too smooth, a bit too trying to be cool, a bit too invincible.

Dalton had the urbanity – but not too much of it, and it didn’t seem forced.  You could believe that he was tough but in a nuggety sort of way rather than being acting’s equivalent to Neil Back. He wasn’t a clothes horse like Craig either.

And then there’s the theme tunes.  I can’t be doing with any from the Craig movies and that includes ‘Skyfall’ which I thought was average.  But Dalton has one of the last great Bond themes in ‘The Living Daylights’, and Gladys Knight’s ‘Licence to Kill’ isn’t too bad either.

All of which brings us to a-ha. Morten Harket (vocals), Magne (‘Mags’) Furuholmen (keyboards) and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars) were at the height of their powers when they recorded their third album ‘Stay On  These Roads’ which featured this single of the same name, as well as the aforementioned Bond theme.

Morten Harket’s amazing voice was made to sing torch songs and laments. I can think of few voices so uniquely suited, so able to take drama and emotions to such swooning heights. This March 1988 no 5 on the UK chart (catalogue number W7936) is one such brooding, powerful ballad.

In the face of grief, international man for all seasons Morten implores the bereaved to remain constant, to look ahead to a reunion beyond death.  A fact for you – I thought that Harket was the lyricist as well as the singer, but it turns out it was Pål. I’m no a-ha fan, not even in the case of ‘Take On Me’, which is tolerable anywhere but at an 80s disco. This will always remain the one song of theirs that comes anywhere near justifying their (inflated) reputation.

I’m afraid there’s another disappointing b-side.  It’s a different mix (how many times do I have to decry this ?) of an album track from their 1986 LP ‘Scoundrel Days’.  And it’s pretty naff.

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