During their ten year career ABBA recorded and released 98 unique songs, with a plethora of well-known alternate versions: recordings Swedish, German, French and Spanish, remixes, edits and more.
However, there are several alternate versions of ABBA songs that evaded most fans for many years, or the stories behind them aren’t well known. Here is the second and final look at some of those alternate versions.
On And On And On: in 1980, photographer Anders Hanser wanted to put together a slide show to display the hundreds of photographs he’d taken of ABBA’s 1979 tour in North America and Europe. ABBA generously gave him the then unreleased song ‘On And On And On’ to use as the soundtrack. This version actually included an additional verse, cut out when the song was released on the Super Trouper album in November. As the song was released as a single in some countries, Hanser’s slide show was distributed to television stations as the official promotional film. Fans complain that they would rather have had a proper film clip, rather than the slide show. But in reality, if not for the slide show a clip for ‘On And On And On’ would not exist, and the extra verse would never have been released to the world. The clip complete with extra verse was first released on the VHS collection ABBA Music Show 2 in Sweden in 1981, also on ABBA (USA 1983), The Video Hits (UK 1986) and The Tenth Anniversary Celebration (Australia 1987). The 1993 VHS selection More ABBA Gold featured a re-edited version of the standard album track, repeated choruses and the instrumental break to extend the song to the same length. The clip was first released on DVD on The Definitive Collection (2002), while the longer version of the song did not appear on CD until The Complete Studio Recordings box set in 2005, which also included the clip on DVD. On all of these releases the song was in mono. The stereo mix finally surfaced as a bonus track on the Super Trouper Deluxe Edition (2011) and The Essential Collection DVD (2012).
When All Is Said And Done: in August 1981 ABBA made a promotional clip of this song from sessions for the next ABBA album (The Visitors, released at the end of November). Though it wasn’t released as an international single at the time, the clip was included in the Dick Cavett Meets ABBA television special, first broadcast the following month. The clip does not include the acoustic guitar and vocal introduction of the album version (which was likely recorded as an insert later), and Frida’s delivery of the final lines “standing calmly at the crossroad/no desire to run/there’s no hurry anymore/when all is said and done” is noticeably different. Most home video collections have overdubbed the album version on the clip, but the original soundtrack was released on the VHS tapes Music Show 3 (Sweden 1983), ABBA Again (USA 1983), and More Video Hits (UK 1988), and on the DVD with The Visitors Deluxe Edition (2012), where it appears in stereo for the first time.
Head Over Heels: like ‘ Waterloo’ and ‘Man In The Middle’ in the previous entry, the second single from ABBA’s final album The Visitors has an alternate mix that went unnoticed by many ABBA fans for decades. In this alternate version the first chorus has a slightly different vocal, but the obvious giveaway is the drumbeat right after the line “she’s a girl with a taste for the world”: the quick triple snare drum pattern is missing. It appears that for the standard version of the song the second chorus was copied and replaced the first. This alternate mix was used in the promotional clip filmed in January 1982, though it seems that no one noticed. Its first known release on record was in East Germany on the ABBA Quartet EP in 1983. The clip was also included in the VHS collections Music Show 3, ABBA Again and More Video Hits. The alternate mix appeared by surprise on The Visitors LP in The Vinyl Collection box set (2010), The Visitors Deluxe Edition CD (2012) and The Essential Collection CD (2012), but all 21st century ABBA DVD collections use the standard mix.
Lovelight: in 1993, one of the surprises of the More ABBA Gold compilation CD was the inclusion of a previously unknown mix of the ‘Chiquitita’ B-side, ‘Lovelight’. It seems that the wrong tape may have been selected for mastering for the CD. It was then included on the Thank You For The Music box set (1994) and remastered Voulez-Vous CD (1997). In 1999 when More ABBA Gold was re-released this alternate mix was replaced by the original 1979 version, which at that time was not available on CD, having only previously been available in that format on the UK budget CD The Love Songs (1988). The alternate mix was also included in The Complete Studio Recordings (2005) and re-released Thank You For The Music (2008) box sets.
Andante, Andante: the big surprise of 2014 has been the inclusion of an unknown alternate mix of the Super Trouper (1980) album track ‘Andante, Andante’ in the box set The Singles. This alternate mix has a different vocal by Frida, with a lyrical variation at the end of the first verse “and let the feeling grow” instead of “just let the feeling grow” (curiously, this lyrical variation was on the Super Trouper LP lyrics on the inner sleeve). The backing is mixed differently, including an accordion that is mixed way down or right out of the familiar version. How this unheard version came to be included in the box set is a mystery.