Only ten years back, not many people knew about this hidden westcoast gem by Swedish band LICENCE. The first time I played it I was stunned. This is Sweden's answer to AIRPLAY! No more, no less. These guys must have listened to the fantastic Airplay album day and night, and then it spread like an infection that lead to the recording of "Högt Spel" (original release: Signatur SILP 6964, 1981). In the band we find vocalist BJÖRN STRÖM and bass player THOMAS AXELSSON, who both went on to form FINGERPRINTS and WEST OF SUNSET years later. All the guys in the band were fine musicians, so this album is a warm recommendation.
It kickstarts with "Delade Meningar" (Different Opinions) which is so much "Cryin' All Night" (AIRPLAY) that it is almost ridiculous. Everything is cut out from the original; anything from the guitars through the harmony vocals to the production. Well, OK - the production is not top notch, but still very good for an early 80's Swedish release. Then there's a KOINONIA meets JANNE SCHAFFER vibe to the title track "Högt Spel" (something like "High Stakes"/"Hazardous Game"). The beat is real nice on this track. More AIRPLAY to be received in "Över" (Over), as well as vibes of MICHAEL McDONALD á la his first solo album. And this way it goes on!
The last song on the original album, "Du Är Hos Mig" (You are with me), shows an urge to take arrangements as far as you possibly can. Think AIRPLAY but then try to imagine yet another twist in the chords of the chorus. It's a really good westcoast semi-ballad, even though the arrangement could have been more sensibly done. In "Vänliga Ord" (Kind words) the rhythm playing is very close to what JANNE SCHAFFER was doing in the late 70's or early 80's. Slightly funky westcoast that gets to you. But it's not over here. Two bonus tracks from a 7" single (Signatur LMS 122, 1982) are added to this CD release, and the first one is "Ännu En Natt". This song is absolutely one of the best ones of the whole CD! A bit like DAVID ROBERTS or JOE CHEMAY BAND, with more tempo than most of the other tunes here. This one's a winner, and I recommend you to take a listen. Last one out is "Out Of Control", from the same vinyl single release.
All in all, this is a must have for all westcoast collectors around the world. It's a 4 out of 5, however just barely. But I strongly recommend the album, and we all should bow to Zink Records for working hard at letting these old gems (and new ones) see the light of day.