The Second Disc

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Reissue Theory: a-ha, “Hunting High and Low”

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Here’s a new feature I’m really excited about on The Second Disc. I’m calling it Reissue Theory (which was very nearly the title of this blog). Herein, I plot out what I think would be excellent plans to expand great catalogue titles. Using the best research skills I can muster, I’ll try to put together the perfect playlist for that sorely missing deluxe title.

First up is Hunting High and Low, the debut album by pop legends a-ha. Though their chart-topping “Take on Me” was the biggest thing U.S. audiences took from them, the Norwegian trio has enjoyed continued worldwide success to this very day. This year, they are embarking on a farewell world tour, which will be making three stops in the U.S. (only their second trek to America since 1986). 2010 also marks the 25th anniversary of Hunting High and Low, and the time is right for Rhino (distributors of the a-ha catalogue in the States) to take the reins and make a really nice deluxe set out of this great LP.

Here’s how it might go down:

Disc 1 – CD
First, the original album:

  1. Take on Me – 3:48
  2. Train of Thought – 4:14
  3. Hunting High and Low – 3:45
  4. The Blue Sky – 2:36
  5. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale – 5:00
  6. The Sun Always Shines on T.V. – 5:08
  7. And You Tell Me – 1:51
  8. Love is Reason – 3:04
  9. I Dream Myself Alive – 3:06
  10. Here I Stand and Face the Rain – 3:40

Disc 2 – Bonus Tracks

First up, the non-LP B-sides:

  • And You Tell Me (Original Version): the original B-side to “Take on Me.” It later became the B-side to “Train of Thought” after the band picked up steam.
  • Stop! And Make Your Mind Up: An additional B-side on the original 12″ single of “Take on Me” never turned up anywhere else.
  • Driftwood: B-side to “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.”
  • And You Tell Me (Demo): The B-side to the “Hunting High and Low” single.

Next, there are quite a few single mixes:

  • Take on Me (Original Single Version): though “Take on Me” is an ’80s classic today, it took three releases in Europe to go anywhere. The first release was actually a different recording, produced by Tony Mansfield instead of Alan Tarney. For a-ha fans this would be quite a find on CD.
  • The Sun Always Shines on T.V. (7″ Remix): the second single, actually the only other hit for the band in the U.S. at No. 20, was slightly edited and remixed for its release as a single. It was included on the most recent a-ha compilation, 2004’s The Singles 1984-2004.
  • Train of Thought (7″ Remix): this great track from the album was way improved as a single, with a heavier bassline and sweeping synth overdubs in the choruses. It’s also got a slightly longer fade out as well. This track is actually pretty easy to find, showing up on both a-ha compilations, Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of a-ha (1991) and The Singles 1984-2004.
  • Hunting High and Low (7″ Remix): this beautiful ballad was also made better as a single, with a full orchestral accompaniment backing the original track. Also previously released on both a-ha compilations.

Next, those ’80s chestnuts, the all-important 12″ mixes:

  • Take on Me (Long Version): There was a longer version of the original single version; humorously enough, this “Long Version” is about as long as the hit single version.
  • Take on Me (Extended Version): when the hit version was pressed onto vinyl in 1985, there was a version for 12″ singles, about a minute longer due to an alternate intro, that hit stores as well.
  • The Sun Always Shines on T.V. (Steve Thompson Remix): This is actually one of two extended remixes for “Sun.” This one runs about eight and a half minutes and is commonly known as the “Steve Thompson Remix”).
  • The Sun Always Shines on T.V. (Extended Remix): the other remix was a little over seven minutes and was significantly different, namely a different, piano-led intro.
  • The Sun Always Shines on T.V. (Instrumental): This mix, longer than the album version, graced the B-side of certain 12″ singles.
  • Train of Thought (Steve Thompson Remix): the longer, seven-minute version of the “Train of Thought” remix was readily available on the 12″ single.
  • Train of Thought (Dub): The U.S. 12″ also had an eight-minute dub mix. Quite the rarity.
  • Hunting High and Low (12″ Remix): The beautiful remix had a longer intro on the 12″ single.

This track list doesn’t even take into account the various demos that are known to exist. Lots of material was demoed in the two years leading up to a-ha’s breakthrough, including at least two demos of “Take on Me” – one that sounds similar to the original and one with entirely different lyrics (commonly known as “Lesson One”). There’s also a radically different demo of “Hunting High and Low” that appears (with several other demos throughout the band’s career) on a rare CD that was bundled with the long-out-of-print official a-ha book, The Swing of Things, in 2004.

Disc 3 – DVD content

Almost every American pop fan remembers that video for “Take on Me” shining like a beacon on MTV. Even today that animation looks killer. A DVD with the videos to “Take on Me,” “The Sun Always Shines on  T.V.,” “Train of Thought” and “Hunting High and Low,” along with other video treasures (live footage, the rare original video for “Take on Me” as seen above), would be a real must-have.

What do you think, folks? Might this be a neat catalogue title for your collection? And what other titles would you like to see in Reissue Theory? Contact us at theseconddisc@gmail.com.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 1, 2010 at 11:40

Posted in a-ha, Features, Reissues

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7 Responses

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  1. I have this album on cassette. I always thought it was great and somehow never got around to buying it on CD. Considering how successful this group became everywhere outside of the US, I’d say there’s a great chance a reissue of their debut could sell at least well enough to justify its existence. I’d definitely buy it (no more excuses!). The 2CD/1DVD format you suggest is promising, but ultimately I’d be happy enough with just the CD’s. Even a single disc reissue with bonus tracks would be cool, but I cast my vote for your super-deluxe treatment!

    Kyle Schiebel

    February 2, 2010 at 14:35

  2. I remember very distinctly buying “Hunting High and Low” at a Sam Goody years ago (back when they still existed). MTV had been doing a lot of retrospective stuff for their 20th anniversary and I remember my jaw dropping at the “Take on Me” video.

    It’s such a bummer that a-ha’s music is so tough to come by in US stores, but I think Rhino releasing “Hunting” for the 25th anniversary is entirely plausible. If anything I’d bet it’d be 2 CDs or a CD and a DVD but I’m ever the optimist when it comes to catalogue titles.

    Thanks so much for reading!

    Mike Duquette

    February 2, 2010 at 14:48

  3. Love the idea!! I still play my vinyl copy regularly and am a sucker for deluxe reissues with bonus tracks, DVD’s, etc… Great idea for a forum also! I look forward to future installments.

    ray judson

    February 3, 2010 at 21:35

  4. […] a look at what’s there, Reissue Theory-style. (It also doesn’t hurt to note that a previous RT post on Hunting High and Low is one of the most popular posts on The Second […]

  5. […] it’ll be here. After all, we’ll have to compare to the Reissue Theory posts done on both of these […]

  6. Actually, this album has already been remastered and reissued, together with their second album: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hunting-High-And-Deluxe-Edition/dp/B003O9I85S Didn’t you know?

    Bimbo Boy (@BimboBoy)

    May 27, 2012 at 15:02

    • Hey Bimbo Boy,

      I posted this piece in February of 2010, a good three months or so before Rhino had even announced the reissues. (I vividly remember reading about the expansions as I was heading out the door to go see a-ha in concert that night!). We know of (and love!) those reissues; personally, I wish Rhino would do more!

      Mike Duquette

      May 29, 2012 at 00:32


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