Ismo Alanko: Epähitit / Unhits

Well, out of my usual boredom, I made a compilation of songs by my favourite musician, Ismo Alanko. The selection is not a usual "greatest hits" one, though; it aims to highlight his less known or, indeed, almost unknown songs. Some of them are easy to listen to, some of them are quite deep and most of them are just weird. Enjoy. Comments, spam and cease-and-desist letters go to timichal()timichal|net.

"I don't care 'bout your babbling, gimme the songs!"

01 Koulut kii02 Tanssin hurmaa03 Raha ratkaisee04 Eksyneet lampaat05 Gold Bricks06 Lammassusi07 Lapset08 Rakkaus raatelee09 Blowin' in the Wind10 Kristallilapsia11 Luminous Force12 Suomi-Finland13 Shimmy Shimmy Kokobop14 Immortal Bliss15 Volvot ulvoo kuun savuun16 Yhteisö17. Peltoniemen Hintriikan surutanssi18 Väkivalta ja päihdeongelma19 Päivänsäde ja menninkäinen20 Runo21 Liputtomat laivat22 Minä minusta minuun23 Työ24 Meidän isä25 Kuolemalla on monet kasvot (tule sellaisena kuin olet)26 Kolme pientä sanaa27 Täältä tullaan Venäjä28 Väärään maailmaan29 Aika kuolla30 Taide vai jazz? (rock and roll)31 Pisaroi32 Seinät33 Kevät34 Tule tuli35 Marjaana (Automatisoitunut ruumis)36 Töiden jälkeen37 Paratiisin puu38 Tee hyvä työ39 Kun vapaus koittaa40 Elämä naurattaa41 Taivaan tulet42 Miksi en saanut lapsena kuolla?

1. Koulut kii
Hassisen kone • Historia 1980-82 • 1982 • Alice Cooper / Ismo Alanko

The song opening this fine collection is a cover of the famous School's Out by Alice Cooper. Ismo apparently translated it himself and then recorded it with Hassisen kone. Appeared only on the non-remastered LP compilation of Hassisen kone's hits, Historia 1980-81, and thus in a fairly crappy quality. A neat effort nevertheless.

2. Tanssin hurmaa
Hassisen kone • Tuuliajolla (eli ballaadeja Saimaalta) • 1981 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

A live recording from Tuuliajolla, a festival where Hassisen kone performed together with Juice Leskinen slam and Eppu Normaali, only recently rereleased on CD. Worth listening as an example of Ismo's early work despite the dubious taping quality.

3. Raha ratkaisee
Hassisen kone • Jurot nuorisojulkkikset • 1981 • Irwin Goodman / Vexi Salmi

Another cover by Hassisen kone, this time of a Finnish singer, Irwin Goodman. Originally a b-side to the LP single Jurot nuorisojulkkikset, luckily released as a bonus to the remastered second Hassisen kone album, Rumat sävelet.

4. Eksyneet lampaat
Hassisen kone • Harsoinen teräs • 1982 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

This is a song from Hassisen kone's final album, Harsoinen teräs, that included slightly more complicated tracks than those on previous two releases. I believe Eksyneet lampaat stands out despite never really being a hit (as I read).

5. Gold Bricks
Hassisen kone • High Tension Wire • 1982 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko, Lars Huldén

Another rarity, this English translation/relyricization of Muoviruusuja omenapuissa has been released only on a promotional LP High Tension Wire, later added as a bonus to the Historia 1980-82 compilation. The song displays one of Ismo's early English lyrics writing attempts; otherwise, it's quite similar to the Muoviruusuja omenapuissa III version of the Finnish original. The quality of the LP copy is sadly reflected in the mp3.

6. Lammassusi
Sielun veljet • Sielun veljet • 1983 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

After disbanding Hassisen kone, Ismo moved on and founded a completely different band, Sielun veljet. Lammassusi comes from their debut album, recorded live in Tavastia in 1983. The album itself is rather strange, yet somehow full of energy and is one of my favourites, and the song itself is a highlight of this record for me. It is however admittedly difficult to listen to.

7. Lapset
Sielun veljet • Lapset • 1983 • Sielun veljet / Ismo Alanko

Released on Sielun veljet's EP Lapset, the titular song is probably one of the weirdest ones Ismo has ever done. I love it, though.

8. Rakkaus raatelee
Sielun veljet • L'amourha • 1985 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

L'amourha was the breakthrough album for Sielun veljet, with hits like Peltirumpu and Ikävä. Rakkaus raatelee is one of the less known songs, somewhat reminiscent of their earlier releases, but I find it one of the most interesting on this album.

9. Blowin' in the Wind
Sielun veljet • L'amourder Ritual • 1985 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko, Bob Dylan

This song appeared on another EP by Sielun veljet (calling themselves L'amourder on the release), this time with English language covers of their older songs. It's a version of Tuulelta vastauksen saan from their eponymous album, with lyrics mostly taken from Blowin' in the Wind by Bob Dylan. The resulting piece is perhaps more exciting to listen to than either of those songs.

10. Kristallilapsia
Sielun veljet • Kuka teki huorin • 1986 • Ismo Alanko, Jukka Orma / Ismo Alanko

Kristallilapsia, the last track on Kuka teki huorin, possibly the "easiest" Sielun veljet album, is a return to the "heavier" roots of the band and to me, it sounds very emotive and touching, one of my all-time favourites. There's a live version of it on Musta laatikko sounding somewhat softer, but I prefer this older one for some reason.

11. Luminous Force
Sielun veljet • L'amourder Shit-hot • 1987 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko, Jukka Orma

Sielun veljet decided to release a full album of covers sung in English, again under the moniker L'amourder; this particular one is a remake of Säkenöivä voima and sounds even wilder than the original.

12. Suomi-Finland
Sielun veljet • Suomi-Finland • 1988 • Ismo Alanko / Jukka Orma

The song is a part of Sielun veljet's last regular Finnish language album of the same name, where the band decided for a more acoustic sound. It's also one of the few songs by them to which Ismo didn't write at least a part of the lyrics.

13. Shimmy Shimmy Kokobop
Sielun veljet • Onnenpyörä • 1988 • Bob Smith / Bob Smith

1988 saw also a release of covers of mostly old songs, both Finnish and English, by Sielun veljet. The compilation is called Onnenpyörä; Shimmy Shimmy Kokobop is the third track on that release and was originally a 1959 doo-wop tune by Little Anthony & The Imperials. Veljet (under the alias Pimpline & the Defenites) reworked it quite well.

14. Immortal Bliss
Sielun veljet • Softwood Music Under Slow Pillars • 1989 • Sielun veljet / Sielun veljet

Coming from Sielun veljet's last regular album and possibly the most underrated one, Softwood Music Under Slow Pillars influenced heavily by Ismo's trip to India and psychedelic music, Immortal Bliss shows a quick evolution of the band since Kuka teki huorin and Suomi-Finland. Unfortunately, the album was a commercial flop and ultimately contributed to the break-up of the band.

15. Volvot ulvoo kuun savuun
Sielun veljet • Veljet • 1991 • Sielun veljet / Ismo Alanko

This is a live rendition of Volvot ulvoo kuun savuun from Moscow in 1988, substantially different in the arrangement from the album version and another example of Sielun veljet's energic shows. Originally included in the documentary Veljet and later as a part of Ismo's biggest compilation to date, Alangolla.

16. Yhteisö
Sielun veljet • Musta laatikko • 1991 • Ismo Alanko / (instrumental)

Sielun veljet came up with their last album Musta laatikko in 1991; they broke up shortly after releasing it. It's a three-CD release of mostly new material; Yhteisö is one of the instrumental tracks from its first part, Muistinmenetys.

17. Peltoniemen Hintriikan surutanssi
Sielun veljet • Musta laatikko • 1991 • Traditional / Reino Helismaa

The second part of Musta laatikko is Taudinkuva with live recordings and various covers; this one is a flamenco version of a traditional Finnish song, Peltoniemen Hintriikan surumarssi performed by Jukka Orma, Ismo's bandmember. It is the only song in this collection without any contribution from Ismo, but I think it's valuable enough to be included.

18. Väkivalta ja päihdeongelma
Sielun veljet • Musta laatikko • 1991 • Pelle Miljoona / Pelle Miljoona

One of the live songs on Taudinkuva, a cover of Pelle Miljoona's early hit definitely sounding better than the original. Ismo himself described Väkivälta ja päihdeongelma as "damn awesome". It's a shame the song ends abruptly halfway through.

19. Päivänsäde ja menninkäinen
Sielun veljet • Musta laatikko • 1991 • Reino Helismaa / Reino Helismaa

Päivänsäde ja menninkäinen is the last song from Musta laatikko in this collection, this time from its third and final CD, Isältä pojalle, a 1990 concert recording from Vanha, where Ismo and Sielun veljet posed as Kullervo Kivi & Gehenna-yhtye and performed Finnish iskelmä (schlager) songs. This one is particularly well-known, being one of Reino Helismaa's classics, and Sielun veljet managed to make it even more melancholic.

20. Runo
Hassisen kone • 20 vuotta myöhemmin • 2001 • (spoken word) / Ismo Alanko

Hassisen kone did a reunion concert in 2000 in Joensuu, playing their old songs, and a new one, Paskan suggeroiva vaikutus, preceded by a short poem written and recited by Ismo. The concert was filmed and later issued on a DVD, and thanks to that, this bit of spoken word can enrich this little compilation.

21. Liputtomat laivat
Sielun veljet • Otteita Tuomari Nurmion laulukirjasta • 2007 • Tuomari Nurmio / Tuomari Nurmio

Closing the first half of this collection, documenting Ismo Alanko's career with Hassisen kone and Sielun veljet, is Liputtomat laivat, a march-like song that first appeared on Tuomari Nurmio's LP Maailmanpyörä palaa. Sielun veljet did their own version of the piece along with other songs by Nurmio, but most of them didn't see the light of day until 2007, when Jukka Orma remastered the old recordings and released the material on Otteita Tuomari Nurmion laulukirjasta, which immediately topped Finnish charts and gained Sielun veljet their final, post mortem success.

22. Minä minusta minuun
Ismo Alangon Radio • Lokaa ja kuita • 1989 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Preceding Ismo's debut solo album, he released a single with three songs as Ismo Alangon Radio in 1989. Minä minusta minuun is the second track on that single, after the much better known Lokaa ja kuita. Both of them, along with the last track, Vanhuus, were later included in the Alangolla compilation in 1997.

23. Työ
Ismo Alanko • Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 • 2006 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Kun Suomi putos puusta, Ismo's first solo album, was released in 1990 and became a quick success. Työ is the shortest song on the album, but it drew my attention for employing very non-traditional instruments. The version in this compilation is taken from Ismo's DVD Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 that shows a complete live performance of the album, originally televised in 1990.

24. Meidän isä
Ismo Alanko ihmemaassa • Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 • 2006 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Meidän isä is another track from Kun Suomi putos puusta, again taken from Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 for this compilation; this "epic" (over 10 minutes long) live rendition by Ismo's theatrical band of that time, Ismo Alanko ihmemaassa, is from the Ilosaarirock festival in Joensuu in 1991.

25. Kuolemalla on monet kasvot (tule sellaisena kuin olet)
Ismo Alanko • Kuolemalla on monet kasvot • 1993 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

This is a "man and guitar" version of Kuolemalla on monet kasvot from Jäätyneitä lauluja, released on the eponymous single. There's a thirty-second silence at the end of the song for some reason.

26. Kolme pientä sanaa
Ismo Alanko • Jäätyneitä lauluja • 1993 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Ismo got into electronic music in early 1990s, which can be easily heard in this piece from Jäätyneitä lauluja. It's my favourite love song of him, more enjoyable than his hits Rakkaudesta or Extasiin for me.

27. Täältä tullaan Venäjä
Ismo Alanko & Tuonelan lukio • Alangolla • 1997 • Ismo Alanko, Jussi Kinnunen / Ismo Alanko

Another live recording, this time of Ismo Alanko & Tuonelan lukio consisting of pretty much the same musicians that played on Jäätyneitä lauluja. The song comes from Hassisen kone's first album Täältä tullaan Venäjä, though its sound has been completely modernized. The 1993 performance was released on Alangolla four years later.

28. Väärään maailmaan
Ismo Alanko • Taiteilijaelämää • 1995 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Ismo's third solo album, Taiteilijaelämää, brought in hits like Taiteilijaelämää, Kun rakkaus on rikki or Nuorena syntynyt, but also other memorable songs, and Väärään maailmaan is one of them. With its remarkably depressing atmosphere, I prefer it over Kurjet, another sad kind of song on the album.

29. Aika kuolla
Ismo Alanko ja vapaat soittajat • Alangolla • 1997 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

In 1996, Irti, Ismo's last release before the founding of the Säätiö came out. I personally consider it to be one of his weakest ones, possibly the weakest; Aika kuolla is one of its bright moments, however, and it sounds even better live on Alangolla with Ismo's 1996 touring band Vapaat soittajat.

30. Taide vai jazz? (rock and roll)
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Joululevy • 1998 • Ismo Alanko Säätiö / Ismo Alanko

A short(ish) funny song released as a b-side to Vittu kun vituttaa on the Joululevy single by Ismo Alanko Säätiö. I like it!

31. Pisaroi
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Pulu • 1998 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

The first album of the Säätiö, Pulu, succeeded in showcasing the band's potential. Pisaroi is the longest song on it, but it has a nice progressive feeling and somehow overshadows the other tracks by its grandiosity.

32. Seinät
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Luonnossa • 1999 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Ismo Alanko Säätiö reworked many older songs of Ismo from the Hassisen kone/Sielun veljet era in accordance to their unique style for live performances; Luonnossa presents many of those remakes. Seinät, originally an old Hassisen kone song, is among the more inventive ones.

33. Kevät
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 • 2006 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Another one of Säätiö's remakes is Kevät, first seen on the 1986 Sielun veljet single of the same name. This version, played in the Lista show in 1998, got a new psychedelic touch not seen in the original; it was included with two other songs performed for the same occassion on Ismo's Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 DVD.

34. Tule tuli
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Sisäinen solarium (single) • 2000 • Ismo Alanko Säätiö / Ismo Alanko

Sisäinen solarium was released in 2000, and Säätiö maintained its innovative sound, yet made the album completely different from Pulu. The titular song was released on a single with a great b-side called Tule tuli. Excerpts from it can be also heard in Sampo on the album itself.

35. Marjaana (Automatisoitunut ruumis)
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 • 2006 • Ismo Alanko Säätiö / Ismo Alanko Säätiö

Ismo's DVD compilation Taiteilijaelämää vuosilta 1989-2006 includes, among the usual music videos and live tapings, an insight to the Säätiö's life on the road in a section called Bussijammit. One of the improvised pieces in that section is Marjaana (Automatisoitunut ruumis), which is probably good enough to be recorded in a studio right away and definitely good enough for inclusion in this selection.

36. Töiden jälkeen
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Hallanvaara • 2002 • Ismo Alanko / (instrumental)

Two years after Sisäinen solarium, the Säätiö released Hallanvaara, however, due to its members rapidly leaving and new ones joining during the recording time, it could be called a solo work of Ismo. The album was yet again completely different from the last one, this time using orchestrations and having a warmer, positive mood. Töiden jälkeen serves as an intro of sorts to the final track, Hallanvaara; in my opinion though, it's perhaps the most beautiful piece on the album after Hallanvaara itself and Ismo's best instrumental to date.

37. Paratiisin puu
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Live DVD • 2005 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Shortly after Hallanvaara, Ismo Alanko Säätiö radically changed to a more rock-oriented group with three guitarists. The change is especially audible in the live version of Paratiisin puu, a part of the Säätiö's 2005 Live DVD. The original Hallanvaara instrumentation (by Valtteri Tynkkynen of YUP) was changed by the "new" Säätiö to a guitar-oriented one. I think it actually helped the song, although both versions are pretty good and enjoyable.

38. Tee hyvä työ
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Ruuvaa, väännä, säädä, hinkkaa • 2004 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Tee hyvä työ comes from a single to the first album that Ismo did with the "new" Säätiö, Minä ja pojat. Both the song and the album reflect the change of bandmembers around 2003 - no more acoustic experiments, just plain old rock. Luckily Ismo knows how to write songs for either genre really well.

39. Kun vapaus koittaa
Ismo Alanko Säätiö • Ruuhkainen taivas • 2006 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

This is the last and, for me, the most interesting track of Ismo Alanko Säätiö's final release, still with the "plain rock" feeling, however more dreamy than Minä ja pojat: Ruuhkainen taivas. Ismo decided to put the band on an indefinite break a year later.

40. Elämä naurattaa
Ismo Alanko Teholla • Blanco Spirituals • 2008 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Quickly after effectively disbanding the Säätiö, Ismo went on to form a duo with the multi-instrumentalist Teho Majamäki, who played in Ismo's various line-ups since around 1996. They released their debut, Blanco Spirituals, in 2008, yet another Ismo's work sounding new and innovative with using only Ismo's acoustic guitar or piano accompanied by Teho's arsenal of drums and percussions. Elämä naurattaa is one of the few "happy" songs on the release, if not the only one.

41. Taivaan tulet
Ismo Alanko Teholla • Blanco Spirituals • 2008 • Ismo Alanko / Ismo Alanko

Taivaan tulet was originally composed by Ismo around 2006 as an instrumental opening for the TV drama series of the same name. On Blanco Spirituals, it appears as the final track of the album with added lyrics and instrumentation characteristic for his collaboration with Teho.

42. Miksi en saanut lapsena kuolla?
Ville Kangas • Suuri erehdys • 2001 • Ville Kangas / Wiljami Niittykoski

After finishing this compilation, I realised I miss just one song to reach the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and decided to get to the number. Fortunately, the choice was easy: Miksi en saanut lapsena kuolla? is a simple, yet very touching song, composed by a famous Finnish violin player Ville Kangas and sung by Ismo to the lyrics of Kangas' grandfather. I believe it's an appropriate conlusion of my little journey through obscure and not-so-obscure songs of Ismo Alanko.