Cruel Summer was released on August 25, 1998 in Japan with two bonus tracks, and on September 1, 1998, in America. Sales were not as positive as the earlier release Flowers. The American version contained only remixes of several of the original songs, and one new track; it is generally considered inferior to the original European release. People did not seem interested in buying Americanized versions of songs by a Swedish band, and the resulting album sold a mere 122,000 copies. Later Ace of Base albums have not been released in the United States.
In mid-1997, the band's record companies asked Ace of Base for new material. Representatives at Arista Records specifically asked for "summery", sunny songs. By Autumn of 1997, "Doctor Sun" had been recorded; it was the first song completed for the new album. The band members test-played the song in several clubs in Gothenburg. Originally, the song featured vocals from all four members, but Ulf's vocals were eventually cut on the final version, which was not released in the United States.
The band members had resisted recording another cover, but at the record company's insistence, Jonas Berggren chose Bananarama's "Cruel Summer". The original version, however, was considered unsuitable, and a new version, produced by Arista president Clive Davis was commissioned instead.
Jenny had written just one song for the new album: "He Decides". However, this song, too, was considered unsuitable in its original form, and was remixed by Charles Fisher. The resulting mix was darker in tone than the original. Ulf composed "more than twenty songs", but only one was used on the released album. Linn wrote and produced one demo entitled "Lapponia," but the track was rejected.
Instead, Arista chose songs written by Jonas for the American version, although few of these songs were considered album-worthy in their original versions. Jenny was asked to record new vocals for "Donnie", and Linn's vocals were cut altogether. The resulting remix was later described as a "Phil Spector-inspired Wall of Sound".
"Life Is a Flower" was considered unsuitable for American audiences, despite high chart positions worldwide. Clive Davis ordered a new version, which became "Whenever You're Near Me", an adult contemporary love song.
The record company head also was instrumental in the recording (and re-recording) of "Everytime it Rains". The original vocals by Jenny were found unsuitable, and a version featuring Linn's voice was used instead. "Travel to Romantis" and "Always Have, Always Will" were also edited for the U.S. release.
While the band members began their promotion for the worldwide release of the Flowers album, Arista executives waivered on whether there would be a U.S. album at all. As late as spring of 1998, Arista representatives had commented that the album was "too bubblegum" and would not be released at all in the States. When it became clear the album was selling well in Europe, representatives at Arista relented, and the album was released, three months after the European version. The name of the album, however, was rejected. Arista settled on the name Everytime it Rains, but switched gears into the promotion, retitling the album Cruel Summer after printing 500,000 copies of the single.
The resulting album, despite spawning a top 10 single, did not sell well. It peaked at #101 on Billboard's Hot 200 Album chart, and failed to make a dent in sales. It dropped out of the charts soon after release, despite good reviews by Fred Bronson, who praised the album for its retro sound. A second single, "Whenever You're Near Me", received little attention, and was not even correctly promoted on the Arista website (it was listed as "Whenever You Need Me"; despite fan efforts to get the mistake corrected, it is still listed as "Whenever You Need Me" to this day). The record company soon ceased any further promotion. People Magazine reported in December of 1998 that only 122,000 copies of the album had sold, while the Flowers album was certified multi-platinum.
Even though the album was not a success in the US, many of the album's singles were readily available via import in US stores.
|Canadian Albums Chart||23|
|Chile Albums Chart||4|
|US Billboard 200||101|