Ace of Base – Don’t Turn Around

Release Date: June 94
Chart Position: 5

Now I am one of Ace of Base’s most loyal supporters, but this time I’m afraid they’re on their own. The last release I experienced that was this whiffy was when our kid Jamie had an accident in the portaloo at Mayburyfest, but let’s not dwell on that. Ace of Base have delivered a royal stinker and here’s why:

1. It’s a cover of a cover
It’s like when you photocopy a photocopy, the quality degrades and the colours mutate. Or when you make a copy of a copy of a song. Things get distorted and corrupted. I actually don’t rate Tina Turner’s original, but it is just that so we have to respect it. But Aswad’s take on it is a thing of beauty, and Ace of Base have frankly pissed all over it. Now I love the hallmarks of AOB’s trademark sound (that electro-flute noise, that sax flare before the chorus), but by remaking it in a minor key with cheap production they’ve sucked all the life out of the song.
This is the only track where a Neggae artist covers another Neggae artist so could have been something beautiful. Unfortunately the Swedish Neggae Mafia have completely Schettinoed it.

2. The video
Just awful. Cheer up you moody f*ckers. Sub 6th-form arthouse tosh, all cheap sepia and black and white washes coupled with a slab of vaseline applied to the camera. I know this was how most videos were shot in the 90s, but when the likes of Madonna and MJ did it they spent a few bucks on the quality of the film used and it shows.

3. ‘That’ rap
I’m putting it out there that this might be the worst rap ever committed to vinyl. It doesn’t rhyme or scan, and it sounds like he gives up halfway. Why am I surprised; Yurps have a fine history of woeful spitting. See here, here or here for examples.

A Neggae acolyte Paul ‘Coley’ Coleman has written a wonderful thesis on the parallels of the Sceggae scene and the Swedish football team in the 90s. It’s a wonderful read; so wonderful in fact that I deleted it accidentally. Anyway, a month after this song was released, Sweden would come 3rd in the 1994 World cup and then begin their slow and steady decline to the moribund position they currently occupy. The same happened to Ace of Base, and it was their own undoing through pony like this.
Score: 3/10.

Ace of Base, excellent. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. What a classic. A classic non-reggae, non-neggae Scandinavian pop song.
The intro sets the overall tone of the song and gets you into the groove – right? Wrong. For starters, th Dr Who, tardis woop woop woop was comical and out of place at best. After hearing that, I replayed it to make sure I was playing the right song. After a careful look, yep, that’s it and off we go into another AOB classic. Although that crazy, off the wall intro may work for the Ace of Baser’s and their devoted scandy fans, it doesn’t jive with me! The song itself is too heavy on the synthetic background noise, poor lyrics and a mind numbingly bad video.
It did have a palm tree in it, so that’s a plus. The highlight for me came at 2.46 of the video when Thor or Anders or whoever started what can only be described as a slow, robotic rap verse. That went on for about 8 seconds longer than it should have. Although by that point in the song, they had already sung “Don’t turn around” 158 times. So on second thoughts, maybe it was a well executed and strategically placed bit of rap to “mix it up” a little. After this “rap” they went on to repeat “Don’t turn around” another 158 times and then it peters out into nothing.
Score: Put me down for 2.5/10. 1 point for the palm tree 1.5 for the amusing rap. Bring back Shabba, please, I’m begging you.

Oh lordy.
Never has someone done something that should be so straight forward and got it so so utterly wrong.
Ace of base have gone down in my estimations.
They’ve gone the same way as Ulrika Johnson, Anders Limpar and the kitsch fabric placemats my partner bought in Ikea three weeks ago. At first they seem like a breath of fresh air, a break from the norm. A bit of flair that livens up an otherwise boring Arsenal team. Or a bubbly new weather girl to splice up Anne Diamonds utter dreariness on GMTV. After 12 series of shooting stars too many however you get a bit sick of the sight of Ulrika and end up turning the TV over. The placemats  are away in a drawer somewhere as theyre making the rest of the room look bad. Don’t ask me what Limpar is up to these days, the thought of him in a ropey JVC Arsenal strip does get on my tits somewhat.
What must Aswad have made of it?
They probably laughed all the way to the bank I imagine. By the time this single was released the record buying public had gone utterly bonkers over AOB’s abstract form of synth pop Neggae.
To top it all off old Ulfy boy has taken to rapping on this one. Not sure if this is worse than a knee jerk shapes he threw in on his last outing. Equally horrible.
Score: Don’t turn around? Don’t worry I won’t. 2 out of 10.

I promised myself that after my last Ace of Base review of the Sign I would be more positive with these guys as I think I might have been a bit tough. I knew it was coming so I only thought happy thoughts going into it. I did a couple of good deeds, listened to I can See Clearly Now and really did everything possible to get me into a happy place. But after only 1 min 40 secs I am ready to self harm.
I am now totally confused by Ace of Base! I remember thinking that they were OK. I don’t think I was ever their number one fan, but don’t ever remember thinking anything too bad of them. But now I am not just annoyed with the four from Gothenburg (you know? that reggae heartland!), but am also thoroughly disappointed with myself for not spotting it earlier. They were really weak and this is surely as bad as it got for them? Thank you to the Neg gods that it is the last of their contributions to the hot 90. I think I would flat out refuse to write anything else about them; even if Gouldy had some kind of punishment against it.
(Vince: Due to a clerical error there are actually another three potential Ace of Base hits we need to review. Sorry Jonny).
I don’t even know where to start ripping this rubbish apart. Rule number one of any cover; I have said it a hundred times; take a great song and make it relevant again. Not take an good song and ruin it, butcher it, sh*t, pi*s and puke on it!! Total money making scam, nothing short of it.
Assume the video was filmed on their private beach on Swedeland?
These twonks have really annoyed me again!
Score: 0.5/10 – only as I am not sure you can give zeroes can you?

‘All that we want is another sceggae’ I hear you cry, and never one to disappoint the masses here it is, sort of. The song was originally written for Tina Turner but relegated to a B side, it was then covered by a number of artists with little success of which my favourite is this, prog-like production, sweet. The most well known version on these shores was released by British Reggae pioneers Aswad, which was the inspiration for the Scandinavian Skankers. The video kicks off with some very solemn spoken word and a focking pelican man flying across a stark looking seascape, this isn’t going to be a sunshine negfest. The skegbeat then kicks in and we get a moody black and white scene reminiscent of a Bergman film. It then catalogues one of the worst looking beach holidays in history, come on guys cheer up, you need to make the most of this daylight because in a few months you’re down to 2 hours a day.
The actual song confuses me, it has great moments like the s-express style acid noises in the background but then the beat and keyboard are cheaper than Aldi own brand digestives. Vocals aren’t really up my street, fairly downbeat and depressing which is fair enough in the works of Henning Mankell but this is neggae, not a bleak series of crime novels set in rural Sweden. So whilst Agnetha is depressing us Frida tries to lighten the mood with her over earnest spoken word refrains which gives the whole thing the sense of a French and Saunders sketch. I’ve been saving my ire for the tour de force of the track, what does every sceggae banger need? A budget Dr Alban mumbling shit about meatballs and flat pack furniture, seriously mate do one, there’s no room for that carry on in the Hot 90.
Overall this has put me in the same mood as this scene in Silence of the Lambs, conflicted and confused (just been busted freeze framing that at work, promotion is on the cards) as they’ve covered a reggae song but in my opinion it’s their least neggae style effort.
Score: Don’t turn around just keep going, you’re confusing me 4/10



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