ABBA Gold 2010

When the release of ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits CD/DVD Special Edition was announced last year the most common question among ABBA fans was “why?”

The simple answer is that ABBA Gold continues to sell, with reported sales of 28 million copies so far. As much as we fans would love more archival material, unreleased songs, or DVDs of television specials, the fact is that ABBA Gold and other hits collections are the only thing that sell. The Deluxe Editions of the studio albums, though a boon for fans, don’t sell in huge numbers. Worldwide sales of music DVDs are falling. Benny and Björn won’t sanction the release of any unreleased songs “from the vaults”.

In December 2010 when this new version was released the previous version (released 2004) had only just left the UK top 100 albums. In Australia 18 Hits (released 2005)  has been a fixture in the catalogue album charts for the past 15 months.

Most of the re-releases that make fans think ABBA Gold has been reissued endlessly have been limited to certain territories, mostly the UK. The USA has never had a re-release until now. Canada’s only re-release was the 10th anniversary version in 2002. In Australia ABBA Gold wasn’t available from 2000 (the 1999 signature edition) until 2008. The UK has had the most reissues, but none since 2004 (the 30th anniversary gold cover version).

The new version of ABBA Gold features the latest remasters of the songs on CD, with an accompanying DVD of the clips for the songs on the DVD, newly remastered. The DVD also includes spilt screen versions of five of the clips, comparing the new remastering with the old clips, plus the first ever release of the 1977 Australian-made cartoon for ‘Money, Money, Money’, very rarely seen in full and long thought to be lost.

The booklet features a new essay by Elisabeth Vincentelli, author of the books ABBA Gold (2004) and ABBA Treasures (2010). The essay manages to cover ABBA history, the ABBA revival, and the history of ABBA Gold itself in just a few short pages.

Like an angel passing through my room

British actor, singer, writer, comedian Christopher Green has been, like many of us, an ABBA fan since he was a child in the mid-1970s.

In 2006, while performing at a function as his character country and western superstar Tina C, he was lucky enough to meet Frida, who happened to be a guest.

That happenstance meeting started Christopher on a journey, looking into the nature of relationships, of love and loss. It also led him to reevaluate his relationship with his long-time idol.

Later he would sit down for an intimate one-to-one conversation with Frida. The final result is a radio play broadcast this week on BBC Radio 4, Like an Angel Passing through My Room, named after the last track on ABBA’s final album, The Visitors.

In the play Christopher recounts, both as narrator and in reenactments by two actors, that initial meeting with Frida. In conversation Christopher and Frida talk about relationships, both as fan and idol, and a surprisingly frank and personal reflection from both as they discuss the loss of their beloved partners. The play is incredibly moving.

Like an Angel Passing through My Room can be heard for the next seven days on BBC iPlayer.

If you feel moved enough to make any comments, you can send General Comments, Pick Of The Week, or Feedback.

Björn thanks gay fans

At the QX GayGalan 2011 in Stockholm on Monday night Björn was a surprise guest, presenting the award for Homo of the Year.

What is surprising to many is that he appeared on stage wearing a costume from the Mamma Mia! stage musical (perhaps it was left behind at Cirkus following the musicals run there a few years ago). Some see it as a wonderful homage to the ABBA years, others see it as hypocritical in light of his statements against an ABBA reunion, which include comments about 60-somethings squeezing back into those old costumes.

But what is getting less attention is what he actually said. He told the audience that “in the 80’s ABBA was “distinctly uncool” … But in some strange way we still remained popular in the gay scene … When we got a revival in the late 80’s, early 90’s. I’m sure it’s because we were still popular in the gay scene. That was the most important factor” He expressed gratitude on behalf of himself, Benny, Frida and Agnetha, and ended with “Thank you kind people”.

I wonder what his hetero lifemate Benny thinks of all this? You might remember in The Winner Takes It All documentary in 1999, when asked about ABBA’s gay following he expressed bewilderment and responded “did we look like transvestites?”

With this speech, and a sign at the ABBAWORLD exhibition in Sydney that mentions the first ABBA nights at the Unicorn Hotel in Sydney’s gay scene in 1987, finally some of the true roots of the ABBA revival are being revealed.

See Björn’s speech here (with English subtitles). See more photos from the GayGalen here. Aftonbladet has footage here. Many thanks to Claes Davidsson (for posting the first pic on Facebook) and icethesite (for links and additional information).

Working at ABBAWORLD

Since mid-December I’ve been lucky enough to work as a volunteer at ABBAWORLD at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

The Powerhouse Museum, like many similar institutions, has a large volunteer workforce. When ABBAWORLD was announced late last year the call went out for ABBA fans to work as volunteers at the exhibition, to help visitors, answer questions and share their knowledge and love of ABBA.

Many ABBA fans answered the call, with fans working almost every day of the week for the duration of the exhibition, which is scheduled to close on March 6th [update: now closing June 26th].

It’s a fan’s dream come true, to get to work all day talking about ABBA, listening to ABBA music, watching ABBA videos (including all those exclusive interviews) and hanging out close and personal with ABBA’s costumes and other artefacts. It’s so enjoyable to see so many visitors having so much fun.

And if you visit ABBAWORLD, say hello to the fan volunteers. They’re the ones wearing the badge that says “ABBA question? Ask Me”.

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