Archive for July, 2007

Mamma Mia! song cut shock!

29 July, 2007

The latest “shock horror” media beat-up ABBA story involves guitarist Lasse Wellander allegedly being “dumbfounded” and “stunned” that ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ won’t be included in full in the forthcoming movie version of the musical MAMMA MIA! (source: Contact Music)

In truth, it’s hardly surprising. Half of the songs in the stage version of MAMMA MIA! are incomplete, some missing entire verses and choruses, or are interupted by dialogue or dramatic action. In the specific case of ‘I Do…’, the first verse stanza  was replaced by the second, the second had all new lyrics to incorporate the storyline and characters, and the third stanza (after the first bridge) has been dropped completely (see the lyrics here).

It must have been a slow news week. Or the film production wanted to get another story out to remind the world that the movie is coming.

Check out the story behind the story for this and more in the ABBA in the news section of ABBA World.

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10 years on the 'net

19 July, 2007

The ABBA Phenomenon in Australia

Ten years ago today, my very first ABBA website, The ABBA Phemomenon in Australia, went online.

Way back in early 1997, there were already quite a few ABBA fan sites. Most were fairly generic, with basic biographies and standard discographies.

But there was a gap about ABBA’s unique success in Australia that I had lived through.

Inspired by a 1995 article on ABBA’s Australian dicography in a local record collector’s magazine that had included many mistakes, I had already compiled the full ABBA discography, which continued what I’d already been collecting since 1976. I had an idea that it could be the starting point for a book about ABBA’s Australian experience. Then the internet came along and that seemed the perfect outlet for the information I’d gathered so far.

The site has come a long way since July 19th, 1997. It started out as the basic Australian discography with just a few pages, but has grown to include memorabilia, ABBA’s visits to Australia in 1976 and 1977, ABBA – The Movie (filmed on the Australian tour in 1977), the commercials for National electronic products that ABBA made for Australia, and much more. It’s continued to be updated right through to today.

It’s also moved around the net until its current home today as a sub-site of ABBA World – ironic really, as ABBA World’s predecessor, ABBALINK, started out as an offshoot of The ABBA Phenomenon.

I’m pleased that my site had served its purpose in explaining this significant era of ABBA history. As well as being visited by fans across the globe, it’s been used as reference material for several ABBA books, television documentaries and the media at large.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary, I’ve resurrected a concept that I started several years ago but never really got off the ground – The Archive, featuring classic articles from newspapers and magazines. Thanks to my friend Samuel Inglles, The Archive now includes lots and lots of articles from the height of Australian ABBAMANIA in 1976 and 1977, with still more to come.

 

The ABBA flag

10 July, 2007

flag

Viewers of ABBA – The Movie will have seen one of these flags fluttering in the evening breeze at the start of ‘Fernando’. The flags bearing the ABBA logo in blue, green, yellow and red letters decorated the various concert venues during ABBA’s Australian tour in March 1977. I remember a row of them flying from flagpoles atop on of the stands behind the stage during that legendary first concert in Sydney on March 3rd. They can be seen adorning the Perth Entertainment Centre in The Movie (the round building Ashley runs into not long after arriving in Perth). And the one seen in close up was probably filmed in Melbourne.

The flags themselves were manufactured by AB Industri-Reklam in Stockholm, Sweden. So it’s surprising that there’s no recollection of the flags flying at European concert venues that year.

The colours of the letters are probably a simplified version of the “rainbow” ABBA logo that appeared on the European tour programme and on the recent authorised biography Fenemonet ABBA (aka The ABBA Phenomenon and ABBA By ABBA), and later featured on the ABBA Annuals (1978 to 1983) and 1994’s ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions by Carl Magnus Palm.

How many of these flags were made or how many still exist is anyone’s guess. There were almost certainly several dozen on display in 1977. I’ve encountered three of them over the past twenty years – one hanging on the front wall of a house in Cleveland Street, Sydney in 1987; one in the hands of PolyGram Records in Sydney around 1992; and the one pictured here, that was offered for sale about ten years ago on the various ABBA mailing lists at the time, long before eBay came into our lives. I was hoping to buy it at the time, but it just didn’t work out. I recently heard from the successful buyer of the third one, who assures me that it’s in safe hands and being well looked after.

Many fans yearn for a particular rare ABBA record or merchandise, such as the ABBA dolls. This is my “holy grail”.

Tribute bands trading as "ABBA"

2 July, 2007

ARRIVALABBA tribute bands have become a booming industry, ever since Björn Again started performing at pubs in Melbourne, Australia in 1989.

I’ve never been a fan of tribute acts. I don’t need a facsimile. I can enjoy the real ABBA at any time on a multitude of CDs and DVDs. But that’s just me. For those people who do want to get that live-on-stage ABBA experience, because they may be too young to have seen the real thing, or they may want to relive it, these dozens of tribute acts give something more that you can’t get from CDs and DVDs.

I have to admit that I’ve seen a few tribute band performances: I saw Björn Again’s first ever performance in Sydney in 1989 (I didn’t enjoy it at all), and I saw Arrival from Sweden when they toured Australia a few years ago (an enjoyable night and a very good recreation). I’ve also seen Australia’s FABBA and BABBA, and I wasn’t too impressed with either.

Tribute acts generally fall into three broad categories:

  • Those attempting a faithful replication of an ABBA performance.
  • Those that are part homage, part parody.
  • Those that cater for the party crowd, often just two girls in ABBA-style costumes with a backing tape.

Many of these acts use the name “ABBA” in some form – ABBAlanche, ABBA Again, ABBA Alive, ABBA Gold, ABBA-cadabra, ABBA Girls, ABBA Babes, ABBAesque, ABBA Forever, Gimme ABBA, ABBAsolutely FABBAulous. You get the idea.

What’s surprising is that these tribute acts are allowed to use the word “ABBA”, which was once upon a time noted as being “a registered trademark of Polar Music International AB”. When the ABBA*Teens released their first single in 1999, Benny himself requested they stop using the name ABBA, because “there is only one ABBA, and they are not it” (though Björn had previously given his permission, and the group had been created by Stockholm Records specifically as an “ABBA” for the late-90s teen market). At another time, Björn Again was sued to stop using a logo featuring a reversed B.

What peeves me (and I know I’m not alone) is those tribute acts whose advertising can be seen to be misleading, that doesn’t make it clear it’s a tribute act, not the real ABBA.

For the last few summers, the USA has had “ABBA – The Tour (or The Show or The Music or The Whatever) featuring members of the original ABBA band”. To those not in the know, this would suggest that the act features at least one of the original ABBA members, not the musicians who backed ABBA in the studio or on tour. In previous years, this tour featured Swedish band Waterloo; this year it’s Arrival.

Several years ago Australian newspapers carried advertisements for something called “ABBA Thank You For The Music 25th Anniversary Tour”, complete with a photo of ABBA circa 1977. Nowhere did the advertising mention that it was tribute a act, ABBAsolutely FABBAulous, performing.

One of the most frequent search terms of this very blog over the past month or more has been “ABBA tour USA 2007”, which indicates to me that there are still people out there who think that it’s ABBA, not a tribute act, that is touring.

Of course, the real ABBA continue to refuse to reunite for anything less than “something special” – even that infamous alleged billion-dollar offer. They’ve proved what they mean by “something special” by singing a song together at friend and business associate Görel Hanser‘s 50th birthday party in June 1999.


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