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Bigger than ever


This autumn, deLillos, DumDum Boys, Raga Rockers and Jokke & Valentinerne are selling out Norwegian rock's main hall, Rockefeller, nine times. Although Joachim "Jokke" Nielsen died five years ago. "The Big Four" also dominates the charts. Tribute plate The best to me and my friends – A tribute to Joachim Nielsen thundered into second place on the VG list, higher than Joachim "Jokke" Nielsen himself managed when he was alive. Raga Rockers' 1983-2000 – Ragas best set a new Raga record as it climbed to second place this week, while deLillos' 20th anniversary record The party's not over ... it's cake again has been on the list for 15 weeks. Now the oslo band becomes the first thing to be honored with deluxe treatment when Suspend departed Deluxe Edition og Before, it was fun with Snow Deluxe Edition released with the famous Kjerringvik demos as a bonus. DumDum Boys doesn't settle for an album, but comes with a new studio album.

The "big four" in Norwegian rock from the 1980s is thus bigger than ever. So big that we seem to have forgotten that they were not really big in the 1980s.

Small in the 80's

"One day in the 80s suddenly pajamas became proper concert attire across the country," the program review for the ninth episode of the NRK story states The history of Norwegian rock. The episode was called "the big four", and was about how Norwegian-language rock placed its hand on the wheel in the 1980s. We are of course talking about deLillos' breakthrough song "Tough in pajamas", but was it really the case that Norway immediately fell for deLillos and their comrades-in-arms immediately? Or is this rock revisionism? "The Big Four" not big until 1989 at the earliest.

Let's therefore go back to 1988. In April, the rock magazine BEAT awards Tore Olsen's rock prize at Rockefeller, in memory of the late rock journalist Tore Olsen. The "big four", on the other hand, did not escape. In 1988, BEAT suffered under the lace tie dictatorship, with American blues, country and people in the forefront – summarized as "roots". The entertainment was by American Norwegian friends such as Timbuk 3, Eric Andersen and Tom Russell, while Norwegian rock represented by The Colors Turned Red and Popcorn Explosion – the evening's award winners. Guitarist in the latter was Christopher Nielsen, cover artist on all the records for Jokke & Valentinerne. Big brother Joachim "Jokke" Nielsen had released two albums, but was not invited to the party.

A few months earlier, Aftenposten had summed up the rock year of 1987. «Among the more hardy and experimental rock artists, the Norwegian line was also strong. Jokes and the Valentines, Rabbits for sale, the YM tribe and The Best are good examples, ”it said.


In 1988, Raga Rockers had released four albums, deLillos and Jokke & Valentinerne two each, while DumDum Boys had changed their name from Wannskrækk and debuted with Bloody serious after after after after. The musical foundation for "the big four" was definitely laid, but the whole of Norway definitely did not break. Jokke & Valentinerne sold 2000 copies of the debut Everything can be repaired in 1986, and was never on the VG list in the 1980s. Raga Rockers' Forbidden feelings was one week in 17th place in 1988, while DumDum Boys climbed to 14th place. Only deLillos was near greatness when he debuted Soar departed was nine weeks on the list in 1986. The sequel disappeared just as completely after just four weeks. (VG list at this time consisted of 20 albums against today's 40).

It didn't occur to anyone to call these four bands "big" in 1988, so you could talk about Dance With A Stranger, Jørn Hoel, Jahn Teigen or Stage Dolls. Norwegian was not yet accepted rock language.

Bands such as The All Worst, DePress and Meat had laid the foundations in the early 1980s, but the Norwegian-language rock first exploded in 1989. DumDum Boys should get a lot of credit for that. Both "Splitter pine" and "Boom boom" became big hits, and the album Insane climbed to third place on the list, where it bet for a whole 27 weeks. DeLillos struck with the double album the same year The brain is alone, but only got six weeks on the list. Raga Rockers got their first radio hit with "Free Life", which sent the album gust (1989) to seventh place. And the underground band Jokke & Valentinerne now got a contract with Sonet, and were rewarded for their efforts when III climbed to fourth place in 1990. DumDum Boys and deLillos consolidated their new status then respectively Stereo (1990) and Next summer entered first place. Jokke & Valentinerne and Raga Rockers, on the other hand, never became big in the 1990s either. Raga has never been longer than five weeks on the VG list, while even Jokke's fiddler wins Saved! was only two weeks on the list. Maybe we should really talk about the "big four" in the 00's?

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