Published on August 19th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Europe: The Final Countdown (Rock Candy, 1986/2019)
Originally released in 1986, The Final Countdown is the third album from Swedish rockers Europe. To call it a breakthrough album would be a major understatement. The Final Countdown sold millions of copies worldwide and made Europe one of the era’s biggest bands. To this day you can’t attend a major sporting event without hearing the song “The Final Countdown” in the closing minutes. This is the song and album that made me a Europe fan for life.
It’s may also be the band’s weakest album.
Hear me out. 30+ years after its release it is possible to look at The Final Countdown objectively in comparisons to Europe’s other albums. Sales figures aside, The Final Countdown followed what is arguably the band’s best album – 1984’s Wings of Tomorrow (I say arguably because I sometimes think 1991’s Prisoners in Paradise may be the best thing the band has ever released). Instead of a natural progression, The Final Countdown took a sharp turn into hair metal/arena rock territory, amping up the keyboards, power ballads, and of course the hairspray. There’s no denying that the move paid off, but musically it resulted in a weaker overall album.
That’s not to say it’s a bad album. It still has plenty of great songs, like “Rock the Night,” “Time Has Come,” “Heart of Stone” and of course “The Final Countdown,” which to this day has to be considered THE Europe song. It also has some weaker, if not downright silly moments, like “Ninja,” “Danger on the Track” and the weepy ballad “Carrie.” I should probably add “Cherokee” to that list, but it’s so darned catchy I can’t bring myself to do it.
The Final Countdown will always hold a special place in my heart, but looking back it’s plain to see that the albums released just prior and soon after it are better efforts. It still deserves a 4-star rating for what the album did for the band, and what it meant to me as a kid.
Edition Notes: The still-affordable 2001 reissue of The Final Countdown was a perfectly decent release, but Rock Candy got the rights to the album this year and like Pavlov’s dog my wallet opened right up. The new remastering sounds amazing, which is no surprise given how good their Out Of This World reissue sounded. It also includes six bonus tracks: the three live tracks from the 2001 reissue, a 1986 version of “Seven Doors Hotel” that I had never heard before, a remix of “Rock The Night” and the b-side “On Broken Wings,” which really should have made the album. And of course there’s the booklet, which has a brilliant new bad essay by Malcolm Dome and all sorts of vintage photos. It’s the kind of reissue that reminds you why Rock Candy is the best they are at what they do.
Summary: Rock now, rock the night!