Top 8 Icelandic Albums by Heiða
Published in Grapevine: Issue 1, May, 2004 www.grapevine.is
Here you go: The list we’ve all been waiting for. The eight best Icelandic albums of all time (the order is the order of the day, and it might have been different another day.)
8. Múm - Summer make good (2004). Minimal pop, makes you feel good.
7. Gunnar Þórðarson - Gunnar Þórðarson (1975). Sounds like a mixture of Stevie Wonder, Beach Boys and Beck.
6. Sagtmóðigur - Plata (1998). Great Icelandic punk.
5. Olympia - Olympia (1994). Epic Electrometalpunk. Before their time.
4. Reptile - Fame and fossils (1990). Sweet eccentric girl-pop.
3. Bless - Melting (1989). Go check it out, it’s outstanding!
2. Purrkur Pillnikk - Googooplex (1982). My favourite band in the world! Featuring Einar Örn, of later Sugarcubes fame.
and the winner is...
1. Hljómar - Hljómar (1968)
1.Sandgerður (A Girl From Sandgerði)
2. Ástarsæla (Love Ecstasy)
3. Ég elska alla (I Love Everybody)
4. Lífsgleði (Life Happiness)
5. Er hann birtist (When He Appears)
6. Saga dæmda mannsins (The Story Of The Outlaw)
7. Dansaðu við mig (Dance With Me)
8. Ég mun fela öll mín tár (I Will Hide All My Tears)
9. Vertu kyrr (Stay)
10. Að kvöldi dags (In The Evening)
11. Ég er þreytt á þér (I Am Tired Of You)
12. Regn óréttlætisins (The Rain Of Injustice)
Hljómar is one of the best bands to come from Iceland. They were the country´s biggest band in the sixties and the seventies, and sometimes called “the Icelandic Beatles”. But I think they’ve got a fair share of uniqueness, and deserve to be remembered for this masterpiece. The album has 12 songs, the A-side (first 6 songs) are written by Gunnar Þórðarson, whose first solo album also made my list, in 7th place. The songs are a mixture of hippy-rock and beautiful melodies, with harmonies and orchestral arrangements straight from heaven! The remaining 6 songs are Icelandic cover versions of songs like “Crying in the Rain” by Carole King, “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin/Ted White and “Window Of The World” by Burt Bacharach. Hljómar manage to alter these songs, and make them into something entirely their own.
There is a slight Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young feeling about this album, because nearly all of the songs have amazing vocal harmonies, and build around the voices. There were four regulars in Hljómar, but the fifth member on this album was a American/Icelandic girl called Shady Owens. She is, in my opinion, the best female vocalist ever to sing in Icelandic. It is beyond me why she is not a multi-millionaire today, but she moved to England and continued to sing backing vocals for many artists after her contribution to Icelandic rock music. Her American accent in the Icelandic language is still unmatched, and absolutely charming and irresistible. Song number 6 is the highlight of side A, with a Velvet Underground-y tambourine and classical guitars, and psychedelic backing vocals. Songs 8, 11, and 12 are all more than perfect.
On the whole, an Icelandic masterpiece, not to be missed!
Heiða first came before the public eye with band Unun, whose members included Dr. Gunni and former Sugarcube Þór Eldon. She currently fronts band Heiða og Heiðingjarnir, as well as having a music program on Saturday nights on Rás 2. Her latest album, 10 fingur upp til Guðs, is available in stores.