ABBA nominated for ARIA Most Popular International Artist

13 October, 2022

ABBA has been nominated for Most Popular International Artist in the Australian ARIA Awards 2022. 

Voting is open to residents in Australia (except in the category of Most Popular International Artist where eligible votes will be accepted via Twitter from all countries throughout the world). Use the hashtag #ARIASABBA

Voting commences on 12 October 2022 at 11:00am (AEDT) and concludes on 16 November 2022 at 11:59pm (AEDT).

https://www.aria.com.au/vote

Votes submitted via the ARIA Voting Page in the applicable categories are limited to one (1) vote per ARIA Awards category per IP address per day (i.e. the time period from 00:00 to 23:59) during the relevant Voting Period.

In relation to votes submitted via the ARIA Voting Page, you are able to change the vote/s that you have cast during the day, but if you do so it will override your previous vote and your last vote for the day will be considered.

Votes submitted by Twitter in the ARIA Award category of Most Popular International Artist are unlimited during the specified Voting Period. There is no daily limit to the number of times you may submit a vote via Twitter for this ARIA Awards category.

The following votes are invalid:

Votes submitted from outside of Australia (with the exception of eligible votes submitted via Twitter).

TL;DR Australian residents can vote once per day at https://www.aria.com.au/vote

Non-Australian residents (and also Australians) can vote on Twitter by posting #ARIASABBA (voting via Twitter is unlimited).

Voting closes 16 November 2022 at 11.59 pm AEST.

Get voting now!

ABBA Gold at 30

24 September, 2022

Thirty years ago this week, on 21 September 1992, ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits was released. It led to a reappraisal of ABBA’s music ten years after the group had come to an end, and spurred a great revival of interest in ABBA that continues to grow to this day.

The revival had been building up underground for quite a while. The Agnetha Benny Björn Frida Fan Club, now the Official International ABBA Fan Club, was founded in the Netherlands in 1986, and started holding annual fan gatherings (gatherings continue to this day, with the next International ABBA Day on 1 October). Fans in Australia celebrated the tenth anniversary of ABBA’s Australian concert tour in March 1987, which led to venues (primarily gay ones) hosting ABBA nights, which continued semi-regularly into the mid-90s. The tribute act Björn Again started playing in venues across Melbourne in 1988, expanding to the rest of Australia and the world over the next few years. And in June 1992 British synth duo Erasure released their EP Abba-esque, featuring four ABBA classics done Erasure style, which topped the charts.

It was the release of ABBA Gold, and its teaser single ‘Dancing Queen’, that saw the underground ABBA revival go overground, as the single and album raced up the charts around the world, with Gold topping the album charts in 11 countries.

ABBA Gold had been researched by Polydor in London, looking to capitalise on their new acquisition (parent company PolyGram having purchased Stig Anderson’s Sweden Music publishing and Polar Music record companies in 1990). They came up with a single CD featuring 19 of ABBA’s most popular hits, in a simple dignified sleeve featuring just the group name and album title, though until 2002 it had a bastardised version of the ABBA logo.

The album included most of ABBA’s most popular songs: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘SOS’, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Take A Chance On Me’, ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ etc, closing with the Eurovision Song Contest winner ‘Waterloo’. Though the tracklist did favour British hits, missing a few major international hits such as ‘Ring Ring’, ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’, and ‘Summer Night City’ (all of which appeared on the sequel CD More ABBA Gold the following year), and included ‘Thank You For The Music’, which had never been a major hit single, but was popular and seen as one of ABBA’s signature songs.

After Gold was released the ABBA revival was further spurred along in 1994 by the two Australian films that prominently featured ABBA music, Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Five years later the stage musical Mamma Mia! opened in London, featuring 22 ABBA songs propelling the story, and by then ABBA was back and here to stay. The musical was turned into a Hollywood movie in 2008, with a sequel in 2018, and also inspired the immersive dinner experience Mamma Mia! The Party. And of course, the new ABBA album Voyage was released in November 2021, with the ABBA Voyage concert featuring digital ABBA avatars opening in London in May 2022.

ABBA Gold itself has been rereleased on many occasions, often coinciding with significant anniversaries: in 1999 and 2014 for the 25th, 30th, and 40th anniversaries of ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest, and the 10th and 25th anniversaries of the album’s release, plus other versions packing the album with additional discs or DVDs featuring the music videos of the album’s 19 songs. It has appeared on multiple formats: CD, vinyl, cassette, DCC, VHS, Laserdisc, Video CD, and DVD, as well as streaming and download services. This week the 30th anniversary of Gold‘s release is celebrated with new vinyl, CD, and cassette versions plus a range of merchandise.

I initially ignored Gold‘s charms. To me it seemed another in the long line of cheap compilation CDs that had been issued over the previous ten years. I don’t remember exactly when I purchased the original copy – somewhere between the Australian release date of 12 October and Christmas 1992. Now of course I have multiple copies on CD, DVD, vinyl, CD/DVD packs, and soon to have it on cassette as well.

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Celebrating the 30th anniversary of ABBA’s Gold

23 September, 2022

This morning I appeared on The Morning Show on the 7 network in Australia, talking about all things ABBA, my book ABBA: Song By Song, and of course the 30th anniversary of ABBA Gold.

Two new ABBA box sets

17 September, 2022

Two new ABBA CD box sets have recently appeared in Europe, separate from the CD box set released internationally in May through Universal Music. Both collect ABBA’s nine studio albums, plus the Live at Wembley Arena double CD and the DVD The Essential Collection.

Unusually, these are not available in music stores, but through newsagents. Each individual album is released one per week.

Each disc is packaged in a bi-fold cardboard sleeve. The eight original studio albums copy the 2001 remasters, with the same bonus tracks and booklets. However the cover artwork replicates the original albums.

The first set is available in Spain through the newspaper El País. The first disc, Ring Ring, was available on 12 June, along with the box to contain the full set. The studio albums were released chronologically, followed by the live album and the DVD. The final disc was released on 21 August. All discs are available individually online, as is the full box set. However, one must be a residen of Spain to purchase.

The second set is available in Italy through direct marketers Mondadori per te. The first disc, ABBA, is available from 26 August, and comes with the box. Each disc comes with the original 2001 booklet plus a new booklet in Italian. Like the Spanish set, one disc is released per week, but in a different order: ABBA, Arrival, Voulez-Vous, Voyage, Waterloo, Super Trouper, ABBA – The Album, Ring Ring, Live at Wembley Arena, The Visitors, and The Definitive Collection. Each is also available online, a week after release. Also like the Spanish set, this is only available to residents of Italy. Unlike the Spanish set, it appears the full box set isn’t available online, only the individual discs.

So, if you don’t live in Spain or Italy and are wanting to get these sets, you’ll have to contact friends in those countries.

Two unusual new CD releases

1 August, 2022

Recently two unusual unauthorised CDs have been released.

ABBA Bremen 1979 – The German Broadcast was released in April. The booklet claims that the CD is a radio broadcast of ABBA’s concert at the Stadthalle in Bremen, West Germany, on 1 November 1979. However, it is actually the radio special ABBA in Concert, from concerts recorded at Wembley Arena later that month, which was prepared by Polar Music for BBC Radio for broadcast not long after the tour finished. Introductions heard on the CD from Björn about ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ being “the current number three in the British charts” and the choir on ‘I Have A Dream’ being “kids here from London” are a clear giveaway (notwithstanding the audio is clearly the same as the radio special). The special was distributed on a “transcription disc” to BBC radio stations for broadcast in 1980. It was reissued on CD in 1994, again for distribution to BBC radio. The sound quality is very good; it is likely this CD is a copy of the transcription CD.

ABBA Live In Warsaw 1976 was released in June. It claims to be “a classic radio broadcast recorded in Warsaw / Poland in 1976”. The CD actually contains the audio of the television special ABBA w Studio 2 (ABBA in Studio 2, aka ABBA in Poland), which was recorded in October 1976 and broadcast in Poland in November. ABBA lip-synced to their studio recordings during this special, so it contains no live music at all. The CD only contains the music portion of the special, all dialogue is excluded. The sound is muffled and in mono, with applause from the studio audience quickly fading in and out and the start of end of each song. This special was also released on an unauthorised DVD in Argentina in 2013.

Apparently, there is an EU ruling that allows the release of radio broadcast material over 40 years old. I don’t know how true this is, but that’s what I’ve heard from a few different sources. Though both these CDs seem to originate from the UK, where EU rules wouldn’t apply. There was a similar loophole in copyright law in Australia years ago, which saw the release of dozens of CDs of audio from radio and TV broadcasts and even bootleg concert recordings in the early 1990s, including one ABBA title featuring live TV performances between 1974 and 1981. There seem to be similar legal loopholes in South America, where unauthorised DVDs of TV material have been released in Brazil and Argentina (like the above-mentioned Poland special).

The companies that produced these CDs both have a long list of similar CDs of radio broadcast material from dozens of popular international artists. How long these CDs will remain available is anyone’s guess. Bremen 1979 has already disappeared from a couple of webstores where it was listed.

The ABBA Phenomenon in Australia at 25

24 July, 2022

Twenty-five years ago this week, my first website The ABBA Phenomenon in Australia was launched.

In the mid-1990s I’d been thinking about writing a book about ABBA’s phenomenal success in Australia. Around that time a local music collectors’ magazine published a discography of ABBA’s local releases. There were many errors in the article, not least that the records were listed in the order that they’d made the charts, rather than by release date. I wrote a letter to the magazine, pointing out the many errors. I don’t remember if my letter was ever published.

Then the internet came along, making it easy for anyone to publish anything. So I took the idea about writing a book, used that letter as a base, expanded it, and created the website, which was launched on 19 July 1997. In addition to the full Australian discography, I wanted to detail ABBA’s two visits to Australia, plus other parts of the ABBA story specific to Australia, including the commercial for National electronics, and the feature film ABBA – The Movie, filmed during the Australian tour in March 1977.

The site has grown from the basic start, with the addition of vintage articles from local media, the various tours of the Mamma Mia! musical, and the ABBAWORLD touring exhibition in 2010 and 11, and a lot more.

Over the years I’ve been adding more detailed information as it came available. Not least including actual release or broadcast details where I’ve found them. So many sources, especially Wikipedia, list the first chart date as the release date.

Unfortunately in the last few years I haven’t been able to keep the site as up to date as I’d like, due to many conflicting factors (not least the research and writing of my book ABBA: Song By Song). I only added details of ABBA’s 2021 album Voyage a few months after it was released. Any other gaps in the recent discography will be updated very soon.

If you want to relive the excitement of ABBA’s extraordinary success in Australia, pay a visit today!

ABBA Voyage – a concert like no other

9 June, 2022

Photo: 30 May

“People everywhere, a sense of expectation hanging in the air”

WARNING: this post contains major spoilers about ABBA Voyage, including the full set list.

As any reader of this blog would be aware. ABBA’s spectacular Voyage concert opened at the purpose-built ABBA Arena in London on Thursday 26 May to critical acclaim, fan rapture, and near universal five star reviews. And it brought ABBA together on the red carpet, and later for a brief appearance on stage.

Photo: @abbavoyage 26 May

I had intended to write this blog the day after the premiere, but between being overwhelmed by what I’d just seen, an extremely busy two weeks in the UK, and seeing the show several times from different viewpoints, it has taken till now to get it together.

ABBA Voyage defies description. It’s not a concert but it is. It’s not a sound and light experience yet it is. It’s definitely not old-style holograms.

Photo: 3 June

The avatars are seen on a screen that wraps around almost half of the arena. The illusion is amazing – the avatars look, move, and feel like the real ABBA. They interact with each other and also the audience with some pre-recorded dialogue. Most often they are portrayed life size, sometimes also projected in larger-than-life close-ups, just like any modern concert.

At times there are larger scale projections, which doesn’t actually detract from the conceit that the avatars are real. The entire arena is filled with lighting and sounds enveloping the entire space, not just focused on the stage. The arena is rarely fully dark, and seeing the rest of the audience becomes part of the experience.

Photo: 3 June
Photo: 4 June

The set list is a surprise, with several album tracks mixed in among the expected big ABBA hits. As announced last September, the first two new ABBA songs recorded in 2017, I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down, are a highlight.

Vocals are from ABBA’s original studio recordings, remixed at times. A few songs appear to feature live vocals from the 1977 and 1979 concerts (discussion is still ongoing in fan forums on exactly what vocals may be live). A major shock is the inclusion of the previously unreleased fourth verse of When All Is Said And Done. Another surprise is a choir that joins in at the end of The Winner Takes It All, which sings new lyrics to the backing vocal melody.

Music is provided by a ten piece band on stage, which gets its own feature spot during the show. Though personally while I think it is worthy to introduce the band to the audience, I feel this goes on half a song too long.

Photo: 30 May

I was lucky enough to see the show a total of six times from different locations in the arena, including opening night on May 26th and the first performance on the 27th. A couple of personal highlights: seeing Agnetha clapping along during Chiquitita, and watching the King and Queen of Sweden, plus their security and military escorts, up and dancing during Dancing Queen.

There really are no bad views, though if I were to suggest best locations it would be either dance floor, towards the centre but about halfway back from the stage, or the centre block of seats. What I found to be the worst spot was front and centre on the dance floor. Way too close, the avatars almost lose that sense of reality, while it’s impossible to see anything else in the arena without turning.

Photo: 3 June

Once the show has bedded in and proven to be a long-running hit, there is no reason that ABBA Voyage could not spread to other parts of the world. I think it would be the ideal show for Las Vegas, where artist residencies have been big for over a decade, and The Beatles Love with Cirque du Soleil (a spiritually similar show to Voyage) has been playing since 2006.

Hopefully some time in the near future the ABBA Voyage will be released on audio formats, so listeners around the world can experience the brilliant new arrangements of the songs.

Photo: 30 May

ABBA Voyage is amazing, brilliant, beguiling, astounding.

Tickets are now on sale to the end of May 2023 at abbavoyage.com

Read the rest of this entry »

Abba fans in London: Unreal to see the show

27 May, 2022
The Australian Abba fans at the newly built stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London are looking forward to the “Abba voyage”. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Among the thousands of Abba fans gathered in London, excitement is rising ahead of the premiere of “Abba voyage” – and the most faithful have travelled across half the globe to see the Abbatars on stage.

TT 08:01 – 26 May, 2022

“It feels unreal to finally see the show,” says Roxanne Dickson, who along with a group of Australian Abba fans meets TT’s emissaries in front of the stadium in east London.

Despite persistent rain, feverish activity is taking place in front of the newly built stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park area of east London, where a collection of construction workers are trying to make sure everything is in place ahead of the premiere of “Abba Voyage”.

Even a crowd of curious fans have gathered at the venue in the hope that a living member of the Swedish group will unannounced appear – and some of the fans who have come to the British capital to see the historic performance have travelled further than others.

Opposite the stadium, a group of Australian Abba fans have sought shelter from the rain – and despite the classic British weather, the mood in the group is at its peak.

For Roxanne Dickson, wearing a yellow t-shirt, adorned with the Abbas – also the owner of one of the world’s largest Abba collections – it was also obvious to travel to London – despite the long and expensive journey.

“Absolutely – and now it feels unreal to finally see the show. This is all a very emotional experience for me,” she told TT’s broadcaster.

Even for Ian Cole, who has written a book on Abbas’ songs, it was obvious to travel to London as soon as the news of the Abbatar show was released – but just going to a concert wasn’t enough for the Australian superfan.

“I’m going to see four shows, which I’m very much looking forward to. And it will be exciting to say the least to see how it turns out – we don’t know what awaits us,” he says.

Beloved in Australia

The Australian fan base gathered outside the stadium in east London is also a testament to the special standing Abba has in the country. Ever since the 1970s, the group in Australia has been loved by loyal fans, praised by the band Bjorn Again – who at their concerts play Abba songs in front of cheering fans – and celebrated every year during a multi-day festival in the small town of Trundle.

One reason for the love affair is Abbas’ legendary tour in 1977, when 160,000 people watched the 11 concerts the group performed over 13 intense days.

The tour’s most legendary gig was the so-called “rain concert” in Sydney, where a huge downpour, followed by a mass invasion of insects that caused Benny’s white piano by the end of the concert to be dyed black, did not prevent the group from playing in front of an audience of 30,000 people.

For Roxanne Dickson, who at the age of six was one of the spectators on that wet Sydney night, it is also extra emotional to soon see the Abobes in London – albeit in digital form.

“My mother, who was a big Abba fan, had taken out a loan to take me and my sisters to that concert. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and now it feels like being back there again,” she said.

“Have given me friendship!

Many of the motley group gathered outside the stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on this rainy May day also testify that the love for Abba is about so much more than just music.

Fans Louise, Cotton and David tell us that they met back in 1989 at a gig with Bjorn Again – and that they have since remained close friends.

And according to Cotton, who not only wears a T-shirt that reads “I love Abba,” but whose cap is also adorned with the group’s name, it’s also the friendship between the fans that makes Abba so unique.

“I’ve been longing for this concert for 40 years – and it feels great to experience it together with all these friends. Because Abba has given me friendships that last a lifetime,” she says.

“In other places, people look at me obliquely if I wear an Abba print t-shirt, but in Australia I’m always met with smiles. Because there we are not ashamed because we like music that makes you happy.

Roxanne Dickson is one of the Australian fans in London. “It’s going to be a very emotional experience,” she said. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Ian Cole is set to see four of the performances of “Abba voyage.” “I hope to hear both the biggest hits and more unknown songs,” he says. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
The Australian fans testify to how much Abba means to them. “We have a special relationship with Abba,” Cotton said. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Facts: Abbas’ relationship with Australia

Abbas’ 1977 tour of Australia began the country’s special relationship with the Swedish group. In her autobiography, Agnetha Fältskog has described the experience: “There was fever and hysteria. There was an ovation and sweaty and obsessive crowds. Sometimes it was horrible. I felt like the audience could grab me never to let me go.”

The 90s films “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding” gave the relationship a revival.

In “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” three drag queens embark on a tour in a ratty bus in the Australian wasteland, delivering Abba interpretations in front of a not infrequently unsympathetic audience.

In “Muriel’s Wedding” from the same year, Toni Collette’s awkward Abba fan delivers lines like: “Now my life is as good as an Abba song. As good as ‘Dancing queen'”.

In the Australian resort of Trundle in New South Wales with about 600 inhabitants, an Abba festival has been held since 2012. The event attracts thousands of people every year, many wearing classic Abba outfits, who participate in singing competitions, party and listen to bands such as the Australian cover band Bjorn Again.

Source: Abbafans i London: Overkligt att se showen

Meet Australia’s biggest ABBA fans who are preparing for the event of a lifetime – the first ‘concert’ in more than 40 years

5 May, 2022

This week 7 News Australia published a story on Australian fans who are travelling to London for the opening of the ABBA Voyage concert later this month, including yours truly.

Read the story here.

No Doubt About It – radio date 11/02/2022

7 February, 2022

No Doubt About It

ABBA

Universal

Radio Date: 11/02/2022

ABBA

NOMINATED FOR ‘BEST INTERNATIONAL GROUP’ AT THIS YEAR’S BRIT AWARDS, THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE OPENING OF THE ‘ABBA VOYAGE’ TOUR,

 

ON THE RADIO WITH THE NEW SINGLE
“NO DOUBT ABOUT IT”
FROM THE RECORD-BREAKING ALBUM “VOYAGE”



The legendary Swedish band ABBA on the radio with the new single “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT”, available for radio rotation from Friday 11 February.

Excerpted from “Voyage”, the group’s latest studio album, “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT” is a lively song punctuated by clapping, with a powerful bass and 80s synthesizers. The single immediately begins with a strong and memorable chorus (“I made a mess, okay / And there’s no doubt”).

Frida Lyngstad, one of ABBA’s lead-singers, says: “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT could be about me and my beloved, in general any relationship to watch with a little humor. You’ll definitely come out with a smile.”

After what was one of the biggest and most anticipated returns in history, ABBA’s first album in 40 years, “Voyage, released on November 5, 2021, went straight to #1 in 18 countries including the UK, Germany, Australia and Sweden and reached #2 on the US Billboard 200. In its first week, “Voyage” achieved worldwide sales of more than 1 million copies and received more than 275 million total streams to date.

ABBA are nominated for “International Group of the Year” at the 2022 BRIT Awards and received their first Grammy nomination for “Record of the Year” for the single “I Still Have Faith In You”.

On May 27, “ABBA Voyage” opens, the revolutionary concert tour that will see Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid as digital avatars in their purpose-built “ABBA Arena” at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, with a lineup of abba’s big hits and songs from their new album Voyage.

Eleonora Fusi (Universal)

Source: ABBA “No Doubt About It” | (Radio Date: 11/02/2022)


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