Monday, 5 July 2010

a-ha - Hunting High and Low: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

You could be forgiven for thinking you've just stepped back to the 80s but, yes, Hunting High and Low by a-ha is out today. It's a newly packaged double-disc homage to the band's great album, which produced four top-ten hits in the UK. Indulge yourself in a childhood-reminiscing journey through Morten Harket's vocal landscape, get lost in the epic synth track of The Sun Always Shines on TV, wish you had the video to watch while listening to Take On Me.

Once you're done, hit play and listen all over again. Or just put it on a loop. It's been looping for 25 years and it didn't get old yet, so there's probably not too much to worry about. These are classic tunes that defined a generation - and created some landmark moments in sound and video alike.

High Points

It's all high points really. Take On Me is obviously a joy for anyone who, like me, still wishes it was the 80s. The title track, Hunting High and Low, has weathered the tests of time well and is a grand showcase for Morten Harket's soaring vocals with an undeniably eerie edge.

Fans and collectors alike are bound to be pleased with the extras that make this the 'deluxe' edition, too - extended mixes on disc one, demo performances and original versions on disc two. It's good to see some genuine rarities from the 80s packaged into the special edition, rather than a handful of new recordings or present-day remixes to pad out a second disc.

The Verdict

I love the 80s, and never really stop mourning their passing. Once the current frenzy of a-ha activity is over, and the band really do stop touring, an important link to a much under-valued decade will be lost forever. This album reminds us all that their music is still strong after a quarter-century, as well as making available a few extras to complete the archive.

It's also no coincidence that many of the songs that appear on a-ha 'best of' compilations are present on Hunting High and Low - which, remember, was a regular album release, not a best of, at the time. It's pretty rare to have a second chance to appreciate an album that, at the time of its release, so well captured the decade into which it was introduced, while still standing up to scrutiny a generation later.

Final Score: 78%

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