Norwegian New Wave outfit A-ha crossed over in America with "Take on Me," a 1985 hit single propelled by an unshakeable synth riff, a striving, sugar-coated chorus, singer Morten Harket's angelic falsetto and a revolutionary music video, which used rotoscoping — a mixture of live action and animation — to tell its romantic tale.
Thirty years later, A-ha has unveiled a massive CD/DVD reissue of Hunting High and Low — the album that contained the smash — complete with previously unreleased outtakes, mixes, demos and an alternate cut of the "Take on Me" clip, which is available to watch exclusively via Rolling Stone.
The differences between the final version of the "Take on Me" video and this alternate are subtle, such as the early focus on the man with the wrench, who later disrupts the lovers' budding romance. Sharp ears will also notice that the audio mix at the end of the song is different from the one that became a hit. Still, the remarkable rotoscoping shows no signs of age, making the video's fantastical story as resonant now as it was in 1985.
The 30th-anniversary edition of Hunting High and Low arrives today, September 18th, and includes four CDs and one DVD, as well as a 60-page hardback book filled with rare photos and stories about the making of the album. The CDs feature various B-sides, a number of rare and unreleased demos, and a complete version of the album comprising early and alternate mixes.
Along with the alternate "Take on Me" clip, the DVD includes the original video, a 1984 version — featuring a different mix and the band playing in front of a blue background — as well as clips for "The Sun Always Shines on T.V.," "Train of Thought" and "Hunting High and Low."
A-ha will continue to celebrate their 30th anniversary this year with reissues of other titles from their back catalog: Stay on These Roads; East of the Sun, West of the Moon; and Memorial Beach. The band is also readying a new album and has plans to tour Europe in spring 2016.