Archive for September, 2022

ABBA Gold at 30

24 September, 2022

Thirty years ago this week, on 21 September 1992, ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits was released. It led to a reappraisal of ABBA’s music ten years after the group had come to an end, and spurred a great revival of interest in ABBA that continues to grow to this day.

The revival had been building up underground for quite a while. The Agnetha Benny Björn Frida Fan Club, now the Official International ABBA Fan Club, was founded in the Netherlands in 1986, and started holding annual fan gatherings (gatherings continue to this day, with the next International ABBA Day on 1 October). Fans in Australia celebrated the tenth anniversary of ABBA’s Australian concert tour in March 1987, which led to venues (primarily gay ones) hosting ABBA nights, which continued semi-regularly into the mid-90s. The tribute act Björn Again started playing in venues across Melbourne in 1988, expanding to the rest of Australia and the world over the next few years. And in June 1992 British synth duo Erasure released their EP Abba-esque, featuring four ABBA classics done Erasure style, which topped the charts.

It was the release of ABBA Gold, and its teaser single ‘Dancing Queen’, that saw the underground ABBA revival go overground, as the single and album raced up the charts around the world, with Gold topping the album charts in 11 countries.

ABBA Gold had been researched by Polydor in London, looking to capitalise on their new acquisition (parent company PolyGram having purchased Stig Anderson’s Sweden Music publishing and Polar Music record companies in 1990). They came up with a single CD featuring 19 of ABBA’s most popular hits, in a simple dignified sleeve featuring just the group name and album title, though until 2002 it had a bastardised version of the ABBA logo.

The album included most of ABBA’s most popular songs: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘SOS’, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Take A Chance On Me’, ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ etc, closing with the Eurovision Song Contest winner ‘Waterloo’. Though the tracklist did favour British hits, missing a few major international hits such as ‘Ring Ring’, ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’, and ‘Summer Night City’ (all of which appeared on the sequel CD More ABBA Gold the following year), and included ‘Thank You For The Music’, which had never been a major hit single, but was popular and seen as one of ABBA’s signature songs.

After Gold was released the ABBA revival was further spurred along in 1994 by the two Australian films that prominently featured ABBA music, Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Five years later the stage musical Mamma Mia! opened in London, featuring 22 ABBA songs propelling the story, and by then ABBA was back and here to stay. The musical was turned into a Hollywood movie in 2008, with a sequel in 2018, and also inspired the immersive dinner experience Mamma Mia! The Party. And of course, the new ABBA album Voyage was released in November 2021, with the ABBA Voyage concert featuring digital ABBA avatars opening in London in May 2022.

ABBA Gold itself has been rereleased on many occasions, often coinciding with significant anniversaries: in 1999 and 2014 for the 25th, 30th, and 40th anniversaries of ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest, and the 10th and 25th anniversaries of the album’s release, plus other versions packing the album with additional discs or DVDs featuring the music videos of the album’s 19 songs. It has appeared on multiple formats: CD, vinyl, cassette, DCC, VHS, Laserdisc, Video CD, and DVD, as well as streaming and download services. This week the 30th anniversary of Gold‘s release is celebrated with new vinyl, CD, and cassette versions plus a range of merchandise.

I initially ignored Gold‘s charms. To me it seemed another in the long line of cheap compilation CDs that had been issued over the previous ten years. I don’t remember exactly when I purchased the original copy – somewhere between the Australian release date of 12 October and Christmas 1992. Now of course I have multiple copies on CD, DVD, vinyl, CD/DVD packs, and soon to have it on cassette as well.

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Celebrating the 30th anniversary of ABBA’s Gold

23 September, 2022

This morning I appeared on The Morning Show on the 7 network in Australia, talking about all things ABBA, my book ABBA: Song By Song, and of course the 30th anniversary of ABBA Gold.

Two new ABBA box sets

17 September, 2022

Two new ABBA CD box sets have recently appeared in Europe, separate from the CD box set released internationally in May through Universal Music. Both collect ABBA’s nine studio albums, plus the Live at Wembley Arena double CD and the DVD The Essential Collection.

Unusually, these are not available in music stores, but through newsagents. Each individual album is released one per week.

Each disc is packaged in a bi-fold cardboard sleeve. The eight original studio albums copy the 2001 remasters, with the same bonus tracks and booklets. However the cover artwork replicates the original albums.

The first set is available in Spain through the newspaper El País. The first disc, Ring Ring, was available on 12 June, along with the box to contain the full set. The studio albums were released chronologically, followed by the live album and the DVD. The final disc was released on 21 August. All discs are available individually online, as is the full box set. However, one must be a residen of Spain to purchase.

The second set is available in Italy through direct marketers Mondadori per te. The first disc, ABBA, is available from 26 August, and comes with the box. Each disc comes with the original 2001 booklet plus a new booklet in Italian. Like the Spanish set, one disc is released per week, but in a different order: ABBA, Arrival, Voulez-Vous, Voyage, Waterloo, Super Trouper, ABBA – The Album, Ring Ring, Live at Wembley Arena, The Visitors, and The Definitive Collection. Each is also available online, a week after release. Also like the Spanish set, this is only available to residents of Italy. Unlike the Spanish set, it appears the full box set isn’t available online, only the individual discs.

So, if you don’t live in Spain or Italy and are wanting to get these sets, you’ll have to contact friends in those countries.


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