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(40:13; Norske Albumklassikere [2021 Edition] )
Track list: 1. Standard of Living (4:21) 2. Joanne Backing (4:25) 3. It's All Right (5:26) 4. What the Hell (6:03) 5. Positive and Negative (4:05) 6. Nothing to It (2:53) 7. My Own Life (4:38) 8. Untitled (1:41) 9. Ghost-Train (6:41) LINEUP: Jon Eberson - guitars Sidsel Endresen - vocals Atle Bakken - keyboards Geir Holmsen - bass Bjorn Jenssen - drums with: Freddy Dahl - vocals, guitars Miriam W. Bjorklund - harmonica Tore Brunborg - saxophone Erik Balke - synthesizer, arrangements
Prolusion. Norwegian band Jon Eberson Group have been around since 1980 or thereabouts, and is to my knowledge still a going concern, albeit not as active today as a few decades back. "Polarities" from 1982 is the band's second album, originally released by CBS Records, and reissued in 2021 through the series "Norske Albumklassikere".
Analysis. Jazz, jazzrock and fusion are genres that those with a bit of knowledge about the Norwegian music scene will associate with Jon Eberson, and from what I understand this album is generally categorized in such a manner as well. For those who may stumble upon this album without any other knowledge about Eberson's work this may well be ever so slightly mystifying, as neither jazz, jazzrock or fusion - at least in a traditional sense - can be said to be a truly dominant aspect of this production. This is much more an album of elegant pop music, with a few bells and whistles attached to it. Smooth, laid back and elegant are key words to describe this production as a whole. Vocalist Endresen is a skilled vocalist, and elevates a number of the songs with her well controlled vocals, and also emphasize the smooth and elegant character that is a defining feature of the album. A bit more of a bite comes from the rhythm department, where bassist Holmsen adds some funky touches to quite a few of the songs here, and while not as striking, Eberson does showcase that he is a master also of the understated and more delicate guitar details used to add nuance to the songs. This in addition to some fine, flowing guitar solo runs. Besides a number of more straight forward pop songs explored with a subtle jazz sensibility, the band also has a take on the good old blues here, takes a small step sideways to explore a bit of reggae, and on concluding track 'Ghost-Train' they pair off the elegant pop music they explore here with a recurring, energetic keyboard arrangement that wouldn't have been out of place on an album by good, old Abba.
Conclusion. Blending jazz details into a more pop-oriented variety of rock was a feature of the 80's music scene from what I can recall, and Jon Eberson Group does a fine job of exploring these kinds of landscapes on this album. While only marginally interesting for a more progressive rock oriented audience, those that are fond of light, elegant and smooth jazz pop (if that is an expression) should find many good quality songs of that kind on "Polarities". From my own perspective I'd suggest that the song 'My Own Life' is worth an inspection, if not for any other reasons that to hear how important a strong chorus and a strong vocalist can be in terms of elevating the stature and impression of a song.
Progmessor: September 2021
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