Laid Back – Sunshine Reggae
The early 80s were certainly years of great creative spirit. Although British productions were by far the most present in the European charts, also for a matter of language, it is also true that in almost all countries we could find artists and songs that managed to establish themselves even outside national borders, sometimes singing in their language, like Lio, Portuguese girl naturalized as Belgian with Amoureux Solitaires, or the Spanish Ole Ole with No Controles, sometimes singing in English, like Spargo from Holland with You and me, or the whole troop of italo disco that was earning visibility, and we only mention P. Lion and his Happy Children.
As far as the northern countries are concerned, the euro-influence of Abba was still absolutely present, and perhaps also for this reason, in addition to the traditional familiarity with English, in general they chose to sing in this language. Certainly there was also an influence from the German record industry, not so much in the language as in the iconography and sounds.
In August 1983 we could find at the top of the charts of many countries (especially German speaking, but also in Italy, for example), a concept that still seems quite risky today: a reggae from Denmark. In fact, when we think of reggae, our thoughts go to places in the Caribbean, possibly with American or African echoes, on the influence of Bob Marley’s legend, following his death about two years earlier. Hamlet’s country doesn’t seem like the place where musicians can think of composing reggae, unless of course it’s a funny reggae to celebrate summer and holidays.
And this was the concept that inspired Laid Back, a Danish duo made up of two blond guys with wide jaws named Tim Stahl and John Guldberg. The song was released in Denmark in 1982, and in the rest of Europe the following year; it is quite simple, repetitive just enough to be a summer song, happy and easy to listen to. The video is absolutely symbolic of those times, and I would also say of the places and culture of production. We are in an office, where Tim and John work upset by the heat (in 1983 air conditioning was a science fiction concept). With them we find two great stereotypes: the beautiful blonde colleague, and the older colleague, ugly and balding, who tries to make himself funny at all costs with jokes and weird ideas, even if the reaction of the girl is quite desperate at the beginning.
The miracle happens: when one of the two boys starts composing the lyrics of Sunshine Reggae on the typewriter, the whole office is suddenly teleported to a Caribbean beach, between jokes, slightly ridiculous scenes, and postcard smiles. The whole group is then joined by locals who add further joy and lightheartedness to the whole scene.
Although they have never reached the popularity they had in 1983 with Sunshine Reggae, with an additional exposure in Northern Europe in 1989, it must be said that Laid Back are still in business, and their latest album dates back to to 2019. In short, their good vibes have not run out yet !!!
Laid Back on Wikipedia