Two unusual new CD releases

Recently two unusual unauthorised CDs have been released.

ABBA Bremen 1979 – The German Broadcast was released in April. The booklet claims that the CD is a radio broadcast of ABBA’s concert at the Stadthalle in Bremen, West Germany, on 1 November 1979. However, it is actually the radio special ABBA in Concert, from concerts recorded at Wembley Arena later that month, which was prepared by Polar Music for BBC Radio for broadcast not long after the tour finished. Introductions heard on the CD from Björn about ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ being “the current number three in the British charts” and the choir on ‘I Have A Dream’ being “kids here from London” are a clear giveaway (notwithstanding the audio is clearly the same as the radio special). The special was distributed on a “transcription disc” to BBC radio stations for broadcast in 1980. It was reissued on CD in 1994, again for distribution to BBC radio. The sound quality is very good; it is likely this CD is a copy of the transcription CD.

ABBA Live In Warsaw 1976 was released in June. It claims to be “a classic radio broadcast recorded in Warsaw / Poland in 1976”. The CD actually contains the audio of the television special ABBA w Studio 2 (ABBA in Studio 2, aka ABBA in Poland), which was recorded in October 1976 and broadcast in Poland in November. ABBA lip-synced to their studio recordings during this special, so it contains no live music at all. The CD only contains the music portion of the special, all dialogue is excluded. The sound is muffled and in mono, with applause from the studio audience quickly fading in and out and the start of end of each song. This special was also released on an unauthorised DVD in Argentina in 2013.

Apparently, there is an EU ruling that allows the release of radio broadcast material over 40 years old. I don’t know how true this is, but that’s what I’ve heard from a few different sources. Though both these CDs seem to originate from the UK, where EU rules wouldn’t apply. There was a similar loophole in copyright law in Australia years ago, which saw the release of dozens of CDs of audio from radio and TV broadcasts and even bootleg concert recordings in the early 1990s, including one ABBA title featuring live TV performances between 1974 and 1981. There seem to be similar legal loopholes in South America, where unauthorised DVDs of TV material have been released in Brazil and Argentina (like the above-mentioned Poland special).

The companies that produced these CDs both have a long list of similar CDs of radio broadcast material from dozens of popular international artists. How long these CDs will remain available is anyone’s guess. Bremen 1979 has already disappeared from a couple of webstores where it was listed.

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