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Topi Sorsakoski

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Topi Sorsakoski (born Pekka Erkki Juhani Tammilehto on October 27, 1952, in Ähtäri, Finland) is a popular Finnish vocalist and guitar player.
He started his career in the late '60s as the guitarist in Kalle Kiwes Blues Band, a small regional band inspired by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Toiling away with the group until the mid-'70s with little success, he switched bands to Jussi & the Boys, where he started as a guitar player, but found his true calling as the vocalist. After his stint in the Boys in the early '80s he was a contender for the lead singer role in the chart-topping Hurriganes, but opted for taking over the vocalist duties from the now alcoholic and unreliable '70s teen idol Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki and his backup band, the Agents. The Agents had a made a name for themselves backing Tuomari Nurmio on his first album and playing Ventures- and Shadows-style rautalanka (iron wire) instrumental guitar music and were in high demand.
The combination of Sorsakoski and the Agents was pure magic, bringing forth the best qualities of both in a way that made the music accessible to not only the more traditional schlager/dance crowd, but also to the roots rock and pop enthusiasts. Their mid- to late-'80s recordings were popular beyond belief. Sorsakoski personified the country-tinged melancholy with his gorgeous voice and touched upon the native Finnish themes of longing, heartbreak, and disappointment. The perfectly balanced backing of Agents, with their soulful guitar sound delivered with impeccable mastery by Esa Pulliainen, captured the hearts and minds of most Finns. In quick succession, In Beat (1986), Besame Mucho (1987), and Pop (1988) stormed the charts. Mostly playing translated cover songs, their selections ranged from traditional Russian songs to "Unchained Melody" back to the Rolling Stones' "Last Time" or the Petula Clark hit "Downtown." Some of their biggest hits, like "Salattu Suru" (Hidden Sorrow), were cover versions of songs by the British Invasion group the Renegades. (The Renegades had been second only to the Beatles in Finland in their time, though found a far more marginal success anywhere else.) High demand, constant touring, and towering expectations resulted in a stilted Half and Half album (1990), which was a split between an instrumental Agents side and the vocal Sorsakoski side. Sales dropped swiftly, and the two decided to part ways.
Sorsakoski remained fairly prolific and popular, recording tangos, evergreens, and country classics with various backing bands, as well as a successful duet album with schlager singer Reijo Taipale. Topi Sorsakoski & Kulkukoirat was formed in 2002 and added more rock & roll flavor to the mixture -- the band even successfully covered Deep Purple's "Soldier of Fortune." Topi Sorsakoski joined forces once again with the Agents in 2007, when they recorded their comeback album of songs from the back catalog of the Renegades -- the album, titled simply Renegades, wasn't quite the chart success their earlier collaborations had been, but the material and performances were up to their old standard. ~ JT Lindroos, Rovi

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