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 Schaffers 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, Jannes first album, Halkans
Affär was a total fusion affair featuring a hot band
including J:son Lindh. That 73 album is featured herepaired
with Janne Schaffer Schaffers 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 Schaffers
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 whats the latest music news
on Janne and Björn J:son?
PETTER KARLSSON: Janne is a hard working, and touring, man.
Abroad hes 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 SwedenLasse Åbergs 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
mwe3: Do you feel all aspects of Jannes 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 Jannes 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 Jannes
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 hes a jazz guitarist
but theres a solid kind of Swedish rock fusion edge in his sound
that sometimes he doesnt 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 othersperhaps
most Swedesactually 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 Jannes 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 Janneno 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 didnt 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 isnt 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 didnt want to have it
in the box, because he didnt think his hairstyle was good enough...(lol)