Björn Thoroddsen – “Björn Thoroddsen” (1985)

Generally I’m not a big fan of jazz-rock, at least not unless it’s way heavy on the rock and maybe just has a few jazz flourishes.  That’s not to say I don’t like jazz – because I do.  But I don’t know.  Some things merge really well together, like grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Others are both good on their own but not so much together, like seafood and pizza.  Maybe those are horrible apologies, but I still shudder at the thought of seafood on my pizza.


I wrote about BjörnThoroddsen’s 1982 album Svif a couple of years ago, though I’m pretty sure I haven’t listened to it since.  I’ve come across some of his other records here and there but never bought any of them.  I’m not even sure exactly where I came across this copy of his self-titled 1985 release when we were in Iceland, but it was probably Lucky Records.  It got some extra points for being signed and because of the cover image, which I think is excellent.  I’m 99% sure this was taken at what is now Perlan, one of the more recognizable landmarks in Reykjavik not only for its style but also because it’s high up on a hill overlooking the city.  The site was originally home to some huge hot water storage tanks (geothermally heated water is everywhere in Iceland; you will never run out of hot water in the shower, though you may give yourself third degree burns), which I believe is what we’re seeing in this photo.  In 1991 the whole thing was cleaned up and a big glass dome put on top, which holds a restaurant and meeting space as well as providing amazing views of Reykjavik.

The playing of bassist Skúli Sverrisson is the high point of Björn Thoroddsen, with Sverrisson seriously getting his funk on during a number of tracks, most notably “Vart Og Hvítt.”  Thoroddsen’s guitar work reminds me of a sort of combination of Steve Vai and the quieter, slower stuff by Eddie Van Halen.  But don’t be fooled – this isn’t a rock record, so don’t expect that kind of playing.  If I was going to drop this into a radio format genre it would be something along the lines of smooth jazz or the dreaded adult contemporary.  The entire thing is instrumental, with the exception of the opening track “Litla Lína,” and while there’s some excellent playing here, to me Björn Thoroddsen is background music, something to play during a dinner party, or while I’m reading a book perhaps.  That’s not intended as a dis, it just isn’t the kind of thing I’m going to sit down and actively listen to.

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