Music Story


Back in his native Sweden, guitarist / composer Janne Schaffer is rightly considered a hero. Composing and performing with his often involved band mate, Bjørn J:son Lindh, Schaffer has recorded some of the most memorable and durable instrumental jazz-rock and instrumental rock fusion albums of the past 40 years. The cream of Schaffer’s solo career can be found on his 2010 box set called Music Story, released on his own Earmeal label. Released on Lp in 1973, following years of backing numerous Swedish musicians, including pop legends ABBA, Janne’s first album, Halkans Affär was a total fusion affair featuring a hot band including J:son Lindh. That ‘73 album is featured here—paired with Janne Schaffer Schaffer’s Andra LP (1974)—as disc one of the 12 album (10CD) + 3DVD Music Story box set. The box set continues on, including a pairing of Katharsis (1975) + Earmeal (recorded with Toto in 1978), Presens (1980), Blå Passager Och Röda Vågor (1982), Traffic (1985), Electric Graffiti (1988), Ögonblick (1992), Av Ren Lust (1995), På Andra Sidan Månen (2000), and a bonus CD of tracks recorded circa 2010 entitled Bonusplatta 2010. Also rounding out the box are three DVD titles featuring Janne Schaffer live in concert— Hörselmat i Montreux 1980, Janne Schaffer - Kårhuset 1974 and a superbly produced Christmas type music concert from 2009, featuring Janne and his band backed up by strings and a choir, entitled Julstämning. Beautifully packaged, the Music Story box set features an extensive booklet, complete with photos and in depth liner notes from musicologist Petter Karlsson (printed in Swedish) and while I was only able to program the DVD titles on my computer, they are truly enchanting and a sight (and sound) to behold. The overall CD sound throughout is excellent, making the box a fantastic overview of Schaffer’s brilliant career as a guitar trendsetter in Sweden. www.JanneSchaffer.se

In November 2011, mwe3.com spoke to Petter Karlsson about the inside story behind the Music Story box set.

mwe3: What has Janne Schaffer been doing in the past couple years as far as touring and recording new music? How has he been? Do you keep in touch with him and what’s the latest music news on Janne and Björn J:son?

PETTER KARLSSON: Janne is a hard working, and touring, man. Abroad he’s been working with an Abba Memorial Tour. He also has musical workshops with youngsters, makes guest appearances on TV and, just now, is planning his traditional Christmas concert, with Björn J:son, in Gustav Vasa Church. They are still very tight, and always tour together in the summer. And he made the music for the next big film in Sweden—Lasse Åberg’s The Stig Helmer Story. Lasse is also a member of the Electric Banana Band.

mwe3: Can you explain to those Schaffer fans who live outside of Sweden, why Janne is considered a national hero in his native land? For instance, I was reading Janne was the 2005 recipient of the Illis Quorum award which was also issued to Raul Wallenberg in 1952. When did the Schaffer phenomenon start in Sweden and how has it changed over time?

PK: Janne is THE guitarist in Sweden. It is due to his hard work in show business. His debut on stage was when he was 13. I think we like his soft, gentle, almost shy appearance. Illis Quorum was created by King Gustav III in 1782 and is given to honorable Swedes in different areas. "The Schaffer phenomenon" really took off 1973, when he made his debut album, which very surprisingly went straight up on the best sold album list. No one expected this, among them Janne, who was abroad, in Israel, with a choir, at the time, instead of doing PR.

mwe3: Do you feel all aspects of Janne’s career are covered in the box set? I know the Hörselmat live album from 1986, with I believe the track “Wallenberg” on it, is not on the box set. Can you say something about the overall coverage of the box as it covers Janne’s career and can you say something about the live DVDs and the Bonusplatta 2010 CD in the box set?

PK: It´s impossible to cover everything. But I think Janne’s made a good choice. The Live Från Kårhuset DVD is interesting, because the concert was arranged by Janne himself, to make a good impression on the CBS bosses, who came to talk about making an album in USA. An unknown person said to the Americans that evening that Janne was a communist, which got to them to hesitate about his career. Luckily they felt his music was more important than his politics and got him the chance to make Earmeal in LA with the Porcaro family. And Janne is not a communist. He calls himself humanist, nothing else.

mwe3: How would you say Janne fits in to the overall history of Swedish rock? Many music critics and some fans think he’s a jazz guitarist but there’s a solid kind of Swedish rock fusion edge in his sound that sometimes he doesn’t get enough credit for.

PK: He is very important. He has played with everyone, in every genre, and therefore, he's been like a bridge between different music styles. For many Swedes he is the guitar in Abba, for others—perhaps most Swedes—actually the zebra in Electric Banana Band, originally created for a children's Christmas program, 30 years ago.

mwe3: Do you have any favorite point in Janne’s musical career? For me, it seemed like the 1985 album release of Traffic really bumped things up and I was quite proud to also work on that album that was also released on Lp, cassette and CD on my Breakthru’ Records back in 1985/86.

PK: For myself, it was when he played at my mothers 60 years party in a small town in Sweden, 15 years ago. Typically Janne—no event is too small or too big for him. But otherwise, it must be when he and the Electric Banana Band played for 26,000 people at the Hultsfred Rock Festival 1997. Or perhaps when he made his first own guitar, 12 years old, in school, and it all started.

mwe3: Speaking of the 1985 Traffic album, I was wondering why the box didn’t include the video from that album for his brilliant rock-fusion instrumental “Flight 05” which I arranged to be shown a number of times on the American MTV VH-1 network. Those were the days...

PK: Janne thinks the video isn’t good enough. It was made by a couple of art students, and it was their first effort in the video business. But personally I think Janne didn’t want to have it in the box, because he didn’t think his hairstyle was good enough...(lol)


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