You’ve probably seen them in webstores, in your local record shops or on ABBA sites (including the New releases page here at ABBA World) – some unusual DVDs with titles like ABBA In Performance, The Gold Singles, The Ultimate Review or ABBA’s The Visitors.
These “unauthorised” DVDs – that is, not authorised by ABBA or released by their record company, Universal Music – have flooded the marketplace over the past 18 months or so.
The first was Music In Review: ABBA 1973-1982, released in the UK in October 2005. It set the format for most of the DVDs that have followed. Footage of ABBA on various television performances from shows such as Musikladen, Star Parade and Show Express, or specials such as ABBA In Studio 2, ABBA in Japan, and Dick Cavett Meets ABBA. Usually the footage is limited short snippets of songs, often reduced in size, with descriptive text on screen and not the best picture quality. Interspersed with comments from musicians and critics who, while no doubt experts in their own fields, appear to know little about ABBA. Very few songs appear in full, and when they do, it’s usually a compilation of different clips edited together, not one complete performance.
ABBA – The Gold Singles, ABBA In Performance, and ABBA’s The Visitors all follow this pattern, even sharing some of the same footage and interviews. In fact, they’re all produced by the same company and its various subsidiaries. Music In Review and In Performance have already been repackaged together as The Ultimate Review, and some of these titles have appeared with Swedish, French or Spanish packaging, though the contents remain the same. The packaging for these has been remarkably similar, with one particular photo session from 1974 appearing on covers (including The Visitors!) and inside booklets. Presumably, the forthcoming Rock Case Studies – ABBA and ABBA/Arrival (like The Gold Singles, part of the World’s Greatest Albums series) will be more of the same.
In the middle of all these releases, another company put out the Music Box Biographical Collection, which disappointed many as it doesn’t include any ABBA music at all, just still photographs and interviews with critics.
Two forthcoming unauthorised collections do however sound interesting to ABBA fans. Dancing Queen Interviews, to be released in the USA towards the end of April, promises “interview material and archival footage presented for the first time ever in a DVD format! It includes early USA interviews showcasing the group’s innocence, discussing their accents, musical background, their clothes and Sweden. Also included are mini-documentaries, rehearsals, footage from the Eurovision 1974 Song Contest, lots of old photos from the 60’s, early black and white footage, and a documentary discussing Mamma Mia. Plus more interviews from the UK and USA!” (according to Amazon.com). Whether this description is indeed true remains to be seen.
But perhaps most intrigingly coming to the UK in late March (USA mid April) is ABBA – The Golden Years. So far, there’s been no information about the contents of this DVD, but HMV Japan reveals a track list that appears to be the 1982 Dutch TV documentary The Story Of ABBA, released on VHS in the UK in 1986 but long out of print. If so, this will be one unauthorised DVD that will really have fans excited. But this DVD is from the producers of the aforementioned Music Box Biographical Collection, and even their own website has no description, so all we can do for now is wait and see. [update 26 April: release has now been pushed back to the second week of May. UK sites Woolworths and Tesco appear to confirm the contents]
Once upon a time, ABBA fans the world over complained that there weren’t as many ABBA DVDs as there were for other groups. Now we’ve got what they wished for and we’ve been overwhelmed with a DVD overload.
Tags: ABBA, ABBA - The Gold Singles, ABBA in Performance, ABBA's The Visitors, ABBA/Arrival, Dancing Queen Interviews, Music Box Biographical Collection, Music in Review, Rock Case Studies, The Golden Years, The Ultimate Review