Ace Of Base – Gold (3 CDs)

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Ace Of Base are the Swedish band who flew so close to the rock’n’roll sun with their first album, The Sign (1993, aka Happy Nation), that you can still see the scorch marks.

The 2 guys/2 girls band put reggae back into rock with that multi selling debut, an album that contributed 3 USA Billboard Top Ten hits, as well as charting throughout Europe (and beyond). ‘The Sign’, ‘All That She Wants’ and ‘Happy Nation’, propelled by Eurodisco beats and full of instant charm became world straddling dance floor fillers. And worldwide, people bought what they heard. Produced, and partly written by Scot, John Ballard, the album went on to sell 8 million, and led the way to further million selling albums and singles.

This 3 CD set, Gold, from The Demon Music Group’s Crimson imprint, takes the band’s Greatest Hits album as the primary disc; adds a second disc, crammed with teased out remixes and re-recorded versions from 2009, and rounds out the package with a third CD, the aptly named Hidden Gems compilation album – 15 tracks of previously unreleased and B sides spread over the band’s 1991 – 2006 lifespan.

This third disc holds up way better than you might expect. Many of the songs were written and produced during a particularly fertile period for the band. A few years earlier or later, instead of ending up on the cutting room floor, they would have been A side candidates. It leans heavily toward tightly structured songs built on bass heavy rhythms, ‘Would You Believe’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ shuffle and sparkle, both buffed hard into imperishable dance floor anthems; ‘Giving it Up’ ups the reggae quotient, while ‘No Good Lover’ dips its toe into Euro Funk Lite. And these are just random picks from a surprise disc of high calibre pop songs that combine soft centres with maximum impact.

Peak Ace Of Base, no question.