RETURN – To The Top ’87 [Norske Albumklassikere 80-tallet remastered] (2023) *HQ*
As part of the ‘Norske Albumklassikere 80-tallet’ series from the excellent Norwegian reissue label Norske Albumklassikere – which seems to have access to almost every Norwegian release from the 70s and 80s – comes this really welcomed remastered reissue of RETURN 1987’s album ”To The Top”.
If you need an ’80s AOR album that could rival Europe’s Final Countdown, it was ”To The Top”. This is pure catchiness, top class multi-part vocal harmonies, infectious choruses and outstanding keys/synths. Very poppy at places and very radio friendly.
The album spent several weeks in the Scandinavian charts and while Return didn’t made it big world-wide, ”To The Top” put the band among the top AOR / Melodic Rock acts from the era.
Hailing from Stange Hedmark, the band started out under the name ‘Polish’ in 1980. The rehearsals didn’t always were ‘very polished’, as initially the band played classic heavy metal.
Near the mid-Eighties the guys fall in love with the melodic sound which started to dominate the Rock scene, and musically their approach was much more radio oriented. In 1985, vocalist Knut Erik Østgård, guitarists Steinar Hagen & Jan Åge Slåtsveen, bassist Tore Larsen and drummer Øyvind Håkonsen changed their name to Return.
The breakthrough came with the single “Sheila” which sold 1,000 copies. That song also helped Return to participate in the ‘Norgesmestre i Rock’, a competition of bands organized by NRK in 1985.
That led to a record contract with Arco Records, which was run by journalists and bands promoters Nick Borgen and Arve Strømsæther. When the debut album ”To The Top” came out in 1987, guitarist Slåtsveen was no more in the band.
Return’s first huge hit was “Sing Me A Song”, which entered the Norsktoppen in March 1987. It remained on the list until April the following year. That gave them 57 weeks on Norway’s most popular music show, of which 11 weeks saw Return in first place.
Singles “Half A Man” and title track “To The Top” also did very well, with a total of 36 weeks on the Norsktoppen. The album ”To The Top” sold around 25,000 copies in Norway only, also on demand in Japan and America as import.
A string of four more successful albums followed in the next few years: Attitudes (1988), Straight Down The Line (1989), Fourplay (1991) and V (1992). Return split in 2000, when the band came out with the compilation album The Best Of Return.
That Greatest Hits CD became their first number one album.
Since then, and still with original members Østgård, Larsen and Håkonsen, Return has played quite a lot, around 25 gigs a year. In 2015, they celebrated their 30th anniversary as recording artists, with the CD and DVD 30 Years Anniversary (Live At Stange).
”To The Top” is fluffy AOR, poppy and catchy as hell, a product of its time but for fans of the genre – the best ever.
01 – To The Top
02 – I Should Have Known Better (Sheila)
03 – Take Care Of Your Woman
04 – So Many Times
05 – Caught In The Middle
06 – Be Good
07 – Angel Of Delight
08 – Half A Man
09 – How Can You Tell
10 – Sing Me A Song
Knut Erik Ostgard – vocals, keyboards
Steinar Hagen – guitar, vocals
Tore Larsen – bass, vocals
Oyvind Hakonsen – drums