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Thorleifs are one of the most beloved and longest-running exponents of dansbandmusik, a broadly popular Swedish style inspired by swing, country, schlager, jazz, and 1950s and '60s rock & roll. Though the fundamental and archetypal role of dansbands is to perform live for audiences of dancers rather than mere spectators, many of the groups also released recordings; Thorleifs have upward of 30 albums to their credit. Initially formed in 1962 by singer, saxophonist, and guitarist Thorleif Torstensson, with Hans Magnusson on keyboards as well as sax and guitar, the band hit their stride in the dansband golden era of the '70s, after the addition of singer/guitarist Magnus Bergdahl in 1968, bassist Kim Lindahl in 1969, and drummer Jörgen Löfstedt in 1970. This lineup would remain unchanged straight through the 2000s, save for the addition of accordionist Magnus Franzén in 2004. Their sound would also remain virtually unchanged over that period: 2007's Våra Bästa År, one of countless compilations they've released over the years -- with surprisingly little overlap -- contains seven new songs as well as three dozen selections from across more than 30 years of recordings (including several cuts from their ongoing Saxgodingar series of covers albums, mostly of '50s-era American pop tunes), and the discernible differences in style, songwriting, arrangements, and even production quality throughout the collection are essentially nil. Though the glory days of the dansbands are long gone, the style retains a substantial (albeit aging) following, and one can only imagine that Thorleifs will continue to soldier on, with unflagging steadiness, for as long as their audiences are willing to dance. In October of 1999 the Swedish government paid tribute to Thorleifs, along with three other legends of dansbandmusik (Lotta Engbergs, Arvingarna, and Sten & Stanley) by issuing their portraits on postage stamps. ~ K. Ross Hoffman

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