In 1986, Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle teamed up to release their first album as Roxette, an LP which proved to be a tremendous success straight out of the gate in their native Sweden yet remains almost completely unheard by most of the world. Indeed, it wasn’t until their second album – 1988’s Look Sharp! – that the band even secured their first release in the United States, leaving their debut LP quietly sitting in obscurity to all but the duo’s diehard fans who made a concerted effort to seek it out.
Recorded at EMI Studios in Stockholm and produced by Clarence Öfwerman, Pearls of Passion may have been Roxette’s first album, but it wasn’t the first time either of its members had found their way into success as recording artists. Gessle had previously been a member of the band Gyllene Tider, a band which had scored three – count ‘em! – three chart-topping albums in Sweden before breaking up in 1984, whereas Fredriksson had found her own success with solo albums in ’84 (Het vind) and ’86 (Den sjunde vagen).
After the breakup of Gyllene Tider, however, Gessle had gone solo, releasing two albums under his own name, neither of which set the charts on fire. Still, he was a “name,” which is how he came to record a duet with Fredriksson – “Neverending Love” – that became Roxette’s first single and, indeed, their first hit, climbing to No. 3 on the Swedish charts.
As a result of the single’s success, what might’ve otherwise proven to be a one-off duet between Gessle and Fredriksson suddenly became a viable commercial entity, which meant that a full-length LP would surely be in the offing...and, indeed, it was. Recording started almost immediately – or as quickly as the songs could come together – and Pearls of Passion was released less than four months after “Neverending Love” hit stores, which is pretty impressive by just about anyone’s standards.
When all was said and done, Pearls of Passion hit No. 2 on the Swedish album chart and spawned two Top 10 hits – the aforementioned “Neverending Love” and “Goodbye to You,” which hit No. 9 – and a Top 20 hit (“Soul Deep," which climbed to No. 18). While none of these songs managed to cross over and find success outside of Sweden, it’s worth mentioning that a couple of the tracks from Pearls of Passion – including one of those singles - did find their way onto later Roxette albums: those who own the CD version of Joyride (to be reissued later this year) will likely remember “Soul Deep” from its presence there, whereas the LP that followed – that would be Tourism – included an acoustic version of “So Far Away.”