Ari Tapio Voutilainen, or Woude, was born in January 8th 1959 in Helsinki. He drew influences from 1960's hippie bands, combined with the energy of punk rock. His first recording band was Ari Taskinen's solo project Hymy Taskinen & Co, which was never intended to be a long-term thing, Taskinen just wanted have a band where he could be the guitarist, as in Pelle Miljoona 1980 his main instrument was bass. Hymy Taskinen & Co. released one single Hei tyttö hei/Yöt kaduilla in 1979. Voutilainen does the vocals on both sides, and is the composer of the B side, the front side being Taskinen's composition. Problems?'s version of the latter was released a year later. Both songs are catchy pop tunes, but the single didn't get much attention, mostly due to the band's project-like nature. In summer the same year, Voutilainen had already formed a new band. It was named after him, and he (on vocals and guitar) was joined by Problems? members Jarmo "Häkä" Halttunen on bass and Timo "Droppis" Wahlberg on drums, who had grown bored of not having gigs. Risto Schiray became guitarist of the new band. Halttunen and Wahlberg had already recorded a single (Tapan aikaa) with Problems?, but since Tumppi Varonen (and later Stefan Piesnack) were playing in Pelle Miljoona's highly popular band, they didn't have that much time for Problems?. Problems? did, however, reactivate in 1980 to make the hit album Katupoikia. Anyway, Woude had no trouble getting a recording deal with Johanna, and their debut single Kaupungin yöt/Satoi, recorded in eight hours, was released in December 1979. It's a great opening, even though tempo on the B side is too slow. Good thing they fixed that later on their debut album. Also check out the title of the A side ('City nights') and compare it to the B side of Hymy Taskinen & Co's single ('Nights on the streets')! Both songs on the Woude single are written by Voutilainen, like all Woude originals from then on. Voutilainen had occasionally been working as a backup singer in Maukka Perusjätkä's band, he can even be seen on the cover of Maukka's Säpinää LP which was released in late 1979. He also traveled with Kollaa Kestää on their farewell mini-tour, featuring Päät and Astronauts. Those were hectic times for Woude, as already at new year's they were interviewed in the Swedish-language television show Bang. They also played a couple of songs in the show. Woude had a reputation of being a fierce live band and they, Voutilainen himself in particular, had gained popularity, especially among girls. That hardly comes as a surprise, considering their romantic songs and Voutilainen's good looks.
The band's next release, the excellent single On kesä vasta alussa/Kaupunki was released in summer 1980. The A side's title ('Summer is just beginning') alone guarantees that it receives some airplay in certain time of the year, even today. The B side ('The city') continues the series of city-themed songs. Nevertheless, it's a great single. In August 1980 Spartakiadit event was held in Helsinki and, as a part of the festivities, a compilation EP was released, featuring Woude, Lola Ego (Jay Havanna's aka Pekka Hakala's shortlived new wave band. The fact that they decided to do a cover version of The Jam's Away from the numbers gives a hint of their style) and Oone Proot. On the EP Woude does two tracks, while the others do one each. Surprisinly on this record Woude play political punk rock, instead of the more pop-oriented style their own singles had represented. Vanhat pierut in particular is a catchy song: "Old farts never die, they become punks". In late 1980 one more Woude release came out, as the single Keskellä aikaa (title track of the forthcoming album), backed with Uskot säkin taikaan, a cover version of Lovin' Spoonful's Do you believe in magic, was released. The cover version was played many times faster than the original. It was not included on the album. To me the A side is possibly the dearest of all the Woude songs. I guess others like it too, for example Yö recorded their version of the song. In January Keskellä aikaa LP was released, featuring ten beautiful and catchy pop songs. Eight originals plus cover versions of Country Joe McDonald's drug song Hold on it's coming (Pidä kii) and Elliott Murphy's Isadora's dancers (Mä en enää jaksa). In addition to the title track, which was released as a single, a much faster version of Satoi was included on the album. It works a lot better than the single version. On the album Woude is accompanied with Hepa Halme on saxophone and Hessu Hiekkala on keyboards. The album was well received and made it to top twenty on sales charts. I believe I even saw Woude pictured in Suosikki's Karvapäägalleria, meaning that the readers' votes had placed them as one of the top ten bands. Regardless, Woude's success was primarily based on their active gigging. For example during February and March 1981 they played more than 30 gigs in total. At one point Wahlberg had had enough, so he was replaced by Kimmo Kosenius, previously known from Busters. Busters vocalist Lauri "Late" Karhuvaara has later become better known as a host of Huomenta Suomi television show. With Kosenius Busters made a comeback in the 1990's and released a full-length CD in 1993, and a single a year before. Anyway, back to Woude: in summer they played a couple of benefit gigs in Norway in an event held to promote nuclear arms-free Scandinavia. A new single, Tytöt, was also released. The B side, Tänään on kuin eilen, or "The drunken song", is possibly their best known song. It stayed in the band's set list all the way to the end, and even a video was made of it. Tänään... differs from the rest of Woude's material. It's a lazily paced story about hangover and how it then turns into the next day's new drunken state. For the band this was probably more actual bad habit than just a story!
Recording for the next album begun in fall, and as a result, Kauniit päivät LP hit the stores in late 1981. The songs sound heavier than before. The new material reminds me of 1960's heavy bands, not flower power bands like their previous stuff. Lyrically the change is smaller, the romantic themes are still there. There are a couple of lighter pop songs too, like the excellent Yön runoilija, or Tuhat yötä. All songs are Voutilainen's compositions. Generally the songs had become more complex, and even though the album received favourable reviews, it didn't sell as well as its predecessor. At this point Woude became less active. Times were changing, as new wave bands were new no more, and different kind of bands like Paul Oxley's Unit (a good band at that) were the new hip thing. Single Kuin lentohiekkaan/Kuka uskoo aurinkoon? was released in summer 1982, witnessing Woude's return to more melodic material. The A side is one of Woude's best songs, and the short song on the flipside is a cover of Velvet Underground's Who loves the sun. The single was issued without a proper picture sleeve, it came in a plain red and black Johanna sleeve, the kind that was used with many Johanna singles at the time, sometimes in different colours. The single sold poorly, and remained their most recent release for quite a long time. That summer Woude was one of the bands that participated the famous Tuuliajolla cruise.
More new bands emerged, and quickly outgrew Woude in popularity. Yö was one of them, even though they started as Woude's support act on some gig (but still was more popular than the main act). It wasn't until late 1983 that the next Woude single, Aika hyvä ihmiseksi/Vuodet vierii was released, this time issued with a dark and light blue Johanna sleeve. You might find it difficult to believe, but once again it's a truly great single! I feel that at that time no other record sounded as good as that. I really wasn't into hardcore punk, Pelle Miljoona had just released his worst album (Laulava idiootti) and heavy metal was on the rise. In the midst of all this came Woude with their fast and melodic single. Well, the A side isn't really that fast, but a beautifully catchy pop song anyway. And naturally this too went mostly ignored. Then Kosenius left the band, and Voutilainen decided to continue gigging either solo or as a duo with Schritay, Halttunen, or his new companion Heinäsirkka.
It wasn't until early 1985 that the band came back. Halttunen and Schiray were still in, and the new drummer was Timo Kotineva, an experienced guy who had previously played in Sukellusvene and Lappeenrannan Lasi & Nyrkkeily. Sometimes they were accompanied by ex-Hassisen Kone Antti Seppo on saxophone and keyboard player Äpryk, aka Antti Ahvenainen. In spring 1985 Woude was featured on Vapauden Tuulet tour, with Pelle Miljoona's new band Miljoonaliiga (and what a great return it was!), Dave Lindholm and Kadotetut. On some of the gigs Voutilainen played second guitar in Kadotetut. I saw the final concert of the tour in Pori, and in my opinion Woude was clearly second best of the lot, right after Pelle Miljoona. Almost all the old material had been left out from the set, I think Keskellä aikaa and Tänään on kuin eilen were the only old songs they played. Some of the new songs represented the old style, while others were influenced by blues, style that in my opinion didn't fit Woude very well. The final concert was televised too, showing about half a dozen songs from Woude's set. Of the new songs Tänä syyskuun yönä, Teksasin pojat (soon to be released as a single) and Piru ja poika were best. Joutopojan laulu was average, and Voi kun aina vois olla näin and generic rock tune Aina katsoa saa were quite bad, considering the high quality of Woude's material in general. Good thing the shiniest gems were released as a single on Johanna's successor Pyramid label. Teksasin pojat ('Texas boys') is a rock song, reputedly inspired by Texas bands, many of them good, that happened to visit Finland in numbers at that time. Tänä syyskuun yönä on the other hand is a really beautiful, mostly acoustic praise of love and friendship. This time the single came with a proper picture sleeve, Voutilainen in the front and the whole band on back. No hit came out of it, but a least the good songs were recorded, those were definitely the best ones. The band would have had enough material to fill two albums, which is hardly a surprise, as the previous album was released three and a half years ago! In summer they traveled to Soviet Union and played there in front of five thousand people. The event was a youth festival, and a couple of other Finnish acts played there too, including Sielun Veljet and Heinäsirkka, who also shared the stage with Woude. The festival was filmed by the Soviet television. The last time I saw Woude on stage was in Kaivopuisto that summer. They played mostly the same material as they had played on the previous tour, but the set also included a Finnish version of Blue moon of Kentucky, and an eight-minute rendition of Pidä kii. Woude kept going for a while longer, but since they didn't get the chance to make a new LP, and the idea of putting more singles out didn't sound that appealing, the band just faded away in 1986.
Even though the songs that went unrecorded weren't exactly my favourites, one more Woude album would have been appreciated. The three singles released after Kauniit päivät LP had been Woude at its best (not that they ever recorded anything but good songs). I think it would be reasonable to have the recorded material collected on CD, since the original LP's and especially the singles have become hard to find, and much lesser bands have had their catalogue re-released. This far only a couple of tracks have been released on various CD compilations.
Woude members Schiray, Voutilainen, Halttunen, Antti Seppo and ex-drummer Kosenius continued together in Wow-Dees and released an album. Voutilainen appeared on the Tapio Rautavaara tribute album Sunnuntaina sataa aina, with his version of the song Kulkuri ja joutsen. Then he joined the zydeco band U-Bayou (two albums), gigged with Heinäsirkka and wrote a song called Tähden alla for her album Rautaa ja magneettia. Voutilainen died in spring 2003. Halttunen was a member of Problems? up until 2007. Schiray joined Problems? in 2005.