When A-ha took a seven-year break after their fifth album; Memorial Beach was released in 1993. Each of the members, Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy, pursued their own interests and arts until they were invited to perform on the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo. a-ha performed two songs and were suddenly back and in perfect time for the millennium when they released their spectacular number one album Minor Earth | Major Sky in 2000. They hit the ground running with a well-received world tour before taking flight once again with 2002’s Lifelines. a-ha had finally returned on the scene!
Warner Music celebrates one of the worlds most successful and enthusiastically loved bands by re-releasing these two-millennium comeback albums in newly remastered versions with bonus tracks, unreleased demos, outtakes and even some live-takes. Both sets feature brand-new liner notes by Kieron Tyler. MINOR EARTH | MAJOR SKY (DELUXE EDITION) presents the remastered original album with bonus tracks and a second CD with 16 more demo, outtake and live tracks. LIFELINES (DELUXE EDITION) contains the remastered original album with bonus tracks and a second 19-track CD of early versions, demos and songs that did not make it to the final album. Both sets will be released on September 27.
The original albums will also be reissued in remastered versions as 2-LP vinyl sets. Two unreleased demos are available now digitally: an early version of “The Sun Never Shone That Day” (from Minor Earth | Major Sky Deluxe Edition) and a raw demo of “Forever Not Yours” (from Lifelines Deluxe Edition).
After their spectacular performance on the Oslo Nobel Peace Prize concert, Magne and Pål began recording demos in early 1999 in New York for what might become a new album. “They weren’t super planned,” says Pål of the sessions. “It came about because we wanted to do it. When we connect, we make a-ha music, no matter the circumstances.” In fact, a-ha were picking up where they had left off. Recorded in New York’s Alabaster Room, Lydlab and Rainbow in Oslo and Boogiepark in Hamburg, Germany, Minor Earth | Major Sky was produced by the German producers Boogieman and Roland Spremberg, co-produced by a-ha and Kjetil Bjerkestrand with a defining finish by British engineer/producer Niven Garland.
On its release Minor Earth | Major Sky was an instant number one, platinum awarded success in Norway and in Germany. Gold discs came in Austria, Spain and Switzerland. The title track “Minor Earth | Major Sky” and “Velvet” followed “Summer Moved On” as singles, the latter hitting No. 1 in Norway and top-10 in Germany.
The deluxe version of Minor Earth | Major Sky is more than just another reissue of a hit album, with demos, early versions and alternate mixes. Disc two amounts to an entirely new take on the album. Early versions of the title track “Minor Earth | Major Sky,” “Velvet,” “Summer Moved On” and the enormous powerful version of “The Sun Never Shone That Day” as well as other takes that did not make it on the final cut reveal the sparkles of songwriting and the process of an idea becoming a hit. Four live-performances in Oslo taken from their 2001 tour prove the grandeur of an a-ha live performance.
a-ha kept their promises with Lifelines, their 2002 follow up album, proving they were back and brilliant as ever, if not even better. Time had moved on, things had grown: Magne Furuholmen was working with visual arts as well as music, Pål Waaktaar-Savoy’s Band Savoy had released their fourth album Reasons to Stay Indoors (2001), and Morten Harket had developed a successful solo career and had become a songwriter on his own. “Morten had made a move to suggest we should write together,” reveals Magne. “That was the beginning of a new kind of partnership.” For Lifelines each band member contributed his personal compositions to the album, which finally was produced by six different producers including Stephen Hague, Clive Langer, Alan Winstanley and Martin Landquist. Anneli Drecker gave her beautiful voice to some of the songs. As their most varied, versatile and multicolored album, Lifelines gained international critical respect and went number 1 in Germany.
As the second disc of this Deluxe Edition reissue shows, a-ha had more songs than could fit on the album: “The Breakers,” “Sole Survivor” and “To Show It Is To Blow It” did not make it to the finished album. “The Breakers” was later re-recorded by Pål’s band Savoy. They also put some effort and variety in their approach to studio work. There were recording and mixing sessions in London, New York and Oslo. Some of them are represented as demos or early mixes and enable the fan to track the growing of an idea into a hit, for example on “Lifelines,” “Dragonfly” and others. In listening to the early and still very raw “Forever Not Yours” demo version, you can see clearly how fertile the new Magne-Morten partnership was in building a hit-track.
This autumn a-ha will take their fans into their early years with their already nearly sold-out Hunting High and Low Tour 2019. Starting in Ireland with a show in Dublin on October 29th, and one in Belfast the following evening - get tickets here - the three of them will perform their 1985 breakthrough album Hunting High And Low and some of their biggest hits in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland and Russia until November. In February 2020 they will continue to Dubai, then travel to South-Africa, Australia and Japan for the second leg of the tour.