Archive for August, 2008

ABBA – The Albums – a new box set

30 August, 2008

ABBA - The AlbumsThis week Universal Music Sweden, through ABBA – The Site – The Official Website, announced the release of a new box set, ABBA – The Albums.

This new box set includes ABBA’s eight studio albums in their original international formats, with no bonus tracks, plus a ninth bonus CD of single A and B sides.

Except for the Swedish versions of ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’, no non-English recordings or alternate versions of songs are included.

It’s not surprising that fan reaction has been split: there are those who see this as an interesting addition to the ABBA catalogue, and those who see it as another rip off of fans’ hard-earned money.

It’s probably a perfect time for this release, with thousands of people seeing Mamma Mia! at the cinema wanting to investigate the original ABBA recordings, wanting more than what’s on ABBA Gold, The Defintive Collection, or Thank You For The Music, but aren’t interested in having the same songs in Swedish, German, French and Spanish that they have in English, or alternate mixes and live versions.

Many fans have said over the years that they would like to see the studio albums released without any of the B-sides and foreign versions of songs as bonus tracks tagged on the end, which they say “ruins” the flow of the albums, especially the later ones such as Super Trouper or The Visitors.

It’s funny that many of the fans complaining that this is “another repackage of the same shit” are the same people who will pay a fortune for an obscure ABBA compilation from Canada, with songs they already have on other albums and singles and a sleeve with photos they have elsewhere, or a New Zealand pressing of Super Trouper, with the exact same tracklist and sleeve as the versions they already have from Sweden, the UK, USA, Japan, and a dozen or more other countries.

As I’ve said for years, if you feel that you have enough copies of ABBA’s songs, and this or any other compilation doesn’t add anything that you want, then simply don’t buy it. It’s your choice – no one is forcing you to buy this or anything else.

But if you want to buy this as another addition to your collection, that’s your choice too.

ABBA – The Albums is released on 27 October 2008. See ABBA – The Site for contents and details.

Madonna's Like An Angel

16 August, 2008

When Madonna released her ABBA-sampling hit ‘Hung Up’ in 2005, there were reports that this was not her first stab at the ABBA catalogue. It was said that a few years earlier she had recorded but not released a cover of ‘Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’, the final track from ABBA’s eighth and final studio album The Visitors.

Now on the eve of the megastar’s 50th birthday her version of ‘Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’, apparently recorded during sessions for her 2000 album Music and produced by William Orbit, has leaked out on to the internet.

Hear it at:
You Tube
Madonna Radio

For a contrast, here are some other performances of ‘Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’:

German songstress Nina Hagen from a 2004 ABBA TV tribute on ZDF.
Swedish soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, who recorded it for her Elvis Costello produced album For The Stars.
Norwegian singer Sissel.

Finally, here is an early ABBA version, Another Morning Without You, with prominent vocalising from drummer Ola Brunkert. Michael B. Tretow once played this on Swedish Radio.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows redux

11 August, 2008

Bright Lights Dark Shadows - The Real Story Of ABBAWhen it was first released in September 2001, Bright Lights Dark Shadows – The Real Story Of ABBA by Carl Magnus Palm quickly became my favourite ABBA book.

For the first time we had a full-length authoritative biography of ABBA. Other books had tried but failed, based on gossip, opinionated theory or bad research from previously published mistakes.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows truly revealed how the group came together, their amazing international career and eventual dissolution. It covered the lives of Björn, Frida, Benny, Agnetha, and their manager Stig Anderson from the very beginnings right up to 2001. I found it a revelation to read.

The book has now been re-released with a new nine-page afterword, bringing the continuing ABBA story up-to-date. Which has been a good excuse to re-read the book, again.

There are those who have said that the book is lacking in “new detail”, that it tells that ABBA story “that we already know”.

I’ve always wondered what these people expect. A Kitty Kelly or Albert Goldman-style hatchet job based on unsubstantiated hearsay? Scandal , salaciousness and smut? A previously hidden alternative ABBA history?

The ABBA members were all conservative, white, suburban, heterosexual people in their late 20s and early 30s who were married to each other. Eventually the marriages ended, both men quickly finding new partners, and there were a few dodgy business deals, but that was as bad as it got. The details of their lives, especially during the group’s active years, were quite open.

Anyone who had followed the group and read every available book and article would of course know the gist of the ABBA story. But Bright Lights Dark Shadows brought together the whole story in a way that had never been done before.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows – The Real Story Of ABBA is a book that every ABBA fan should read.

See Carl Magnus Palm’s website for more information about Bright Lights Dark Shadows.

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