According to Wikipedia a-ha have recorded ten studio albums and released ten compilations. For a band already in some fans’ bad books for reuniting following 2010’s “final” Ending On A High Note tour, they’re already walking thin ice. In reality, only three of those compilations could class as real Greatest Hits, so it’s a relief that the second half of the track list here (or Disc Two if you’re listening the old fashioned way) is made up of rare, and sometimes unreleased, remixes.
Following the expected run of ‘Take On Me’ through to their ’91 cover of The Everly Brothers’ ‘Crying In The Rain’, the latter tracks of part one highlight how far the band came with so few knowing. ‘Summer Moved On’ (from 2000’s Minor Earth Major Sky) is majestic indie-pop, with Morten Harket’s vocals the best they’ve ever been, while ‘Analogue (All I Want)’ and ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ show that despite growing older, they could still write stadium filling anthems. Last year’s ‘Under The Makeup’ is similarly grand, making it all the more puzzling that they’ve put a two-year time frame on this reunion.
On the rarities swing of things, the Kygo remix of ‘Take On Me’ transforms the synth-pop classic into a glorious, sun-soaked African anthem, while ‘Cry Wolf (Jellybean Mix)’ extends the number, adding the bass that the studio version was lacking. House and dub versions of ‘Touchy!’ and ‘You Are The One’ do little to appease some of their most lightweight work, but the edits of latter day numbers are interesting. ‘Velvet (New York Mix)’ isn’t quite as minimalistic as the original, but is equally hypnotising during the female-vocal led chorus, while versions of non-UK singles ‘Minor Earth Major Sky’, ‘Did Anyone Approach You?’ and ‘Celice’ give hints of a rock band trying to break through.
Although it might only appeal to their collectors, there’s proof that there’s far more to take on from the band’s ten studio album then early ‘80s electro-pop.
Time And Again: The Ultimate is out now via Rhino Entertainment.