Archive for August, 2011

A new record for ABBA GOLD

28 August, 2011

ABBA Gold - Greatest HitsJon from Southend-on-Sea in the UK wrote to me on August 15th:

Can we start some sort of campaign for the UK release of ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits ?

Currently it stands at No. 68 with 484 weeks in the Top 100 and 807 weeks in the Top 200 album charts.
 
The longest stayer in the Top 100 Albums is Queen’s Greatest Hits with 486 weeks.
 
So just 3 more weeks in the UK Top 100 and ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits will be the all time champion and that’s surely something to celebrate ??
 
That is indeed something to celebrate. Despite complaints that ABBA Gold has been re-released so many times, especially in the UK, it is the flagship of the ABBA catalogue and it is ABBA’s biggest seller ever. It’s even among the 30 biggest selling albums worldwide.
 
So if you’re in the UK do what you can to get some more copies sold. Encourage your friends to buy a copy, buy additional copies as gifts, and let’s see ABBA Gold become the longest running album in the UK top 100 ever!
 

Dancing Queen – young and sweet, only 35

14 August, 2011

Dancing Queen & That's MeThirty-five years ago this week ABBA’s classic single ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘That’s Me’ was released.

Today ‘Dancing Queen’ is recognised as the most popular ABBA song, and ABBA’s biggest selling single. It’s been described as a chart topper in most countries it was released;  it was ABBA’s only number 1 on the US pop single charts.

‘Dancing Queen’ had its public debut in June 1976 at a televised gala concert commemorating the wedding of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf to German-born Silvia Sommerlath. This led to a widely held assumption that ‘Dancing Queen’ was written specially for the occasion. But Ms. Sommerlath at 33 was hardly “young and sweet, only 17″, and in fact ABBA had started work on the song over 10 months earlier.

Another modern myth is that the ‘Dancing Queen’ was rush-released after the wedding, but it was long scheduled as ABBA’s next single, for an August release. Recording started in August 1975, around the same time as ‘Fernando’. In early 1976 ABBA and their manager Stig Anderson had the difficult choice of which song to release as a single first. ‘Fernando’ was selected because it was a ballad that was different from the previous international single (the upbeat ‘Mamma Mia’), and because ‘Dancing Queen’ was considered such an advance for ABBA.

I first heard about ‘Dancing Queen’ just after ABBA’s first visit to Australia in March 1976. Newspapers reported that while the group was in Australia filming the television special The Best of ABBA (aka ABBA in Australia, ABBA Down Under) they filmed “under strict security” a performance of the next single ‘Dancing Queen’, which would be released the following August. The reports described the song as “disco-influenced”, that it was the best thing ABBA had recorded so far and predicted it would be a huge hit.

Many fans outside Sweden (including me) heard ‘Dancing Queen’ for the first time on the German TV special The Best Of ABBA (a different programme from the Australian special of the same name; the German special was renamed ABBA in Europe for Australian viewers), which was screened in June and July in some countries.

The B side ‘That’s Me’ was another new song from recording sessions earlier in the year. Both songs would be included on the Arrival album, released in October 1976. ‘That’s Me’ would go on to be a hit in Japan as a single in its own right. ‘Dancing Queen’ became ABBA’s signature song, and was used as the encore song in ABBA’s concerts in for the rest of their career together.

‘Dancing Queen’ was released on 6 August 1976 in the UK, 9 August in Australia, 16 August in Sweden, but not until early 1977 in the USA.

See the rest of the entry for various TV performances of ‘Dancing Queen’ mentioned in this post.

(more…)

Dum Dum Diddle – it’s not that bad

6 August, 2011

Dum Dum Diddle on ABBA-dabba-doo!! (photo: abbaontv.com)One of the most criticised songs in ABBA’s catalogue is ‘Dum Dum Diddle’, from the 1976 Arrival album. Common criticisms focus on the lyrics, the instrumental backing and especially the title, which seems to tarnish the whole song.

The criticism seems to have started around 1994, when Björn discussed the song in Carl Magnus Palm’s book ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions. Björn described writing the lyrics almost at the last minute before a scheduled recording session, saying “it might as well have been Dumb Dumb Diddle!”.

ABBA obviously didn’t think the song was so bad at the time. Though it was not an international single release, it was a featured track on the Arrival album. ABBA performed it live on the 1976 television special ABBA-dabba-doo!! and also on the European and Australian concert tour in January-March 1977.

But is there anything really wrong with the lyrics? Songs equating love with a musical instrument are nothing new. ABBA would revisit similar territory in 1980 with ‘Andante, Andante’ on Super Trouper.

“Nonsense” words in a song are as old as popular music, stretching back to ‘Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da’,  ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, ‘Tutti Frutti’ (“a-wop-bop-a-lu-bop a-lop-bam-boom”) and ‘Aba Daba Honeymoon’ (“Aba-daba-daba-daba-daba-daba-dab”). ABBA were no strangers to nonsense lyrics either; 1975’s ‘Bang-A-Boomerang’ featuring the couplet “dummi-dum-dummi, dummi, dum-dum/love is a tune you hummy-hum-hum”.

Conversely a stripped down version performed at the B&B tribute concerts in the late 90s by Helen Sjöholm, accompanied by solo violin played by Kalle Moraeus, has been highly praised for the way the arrangement suited the lyrics.


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