On this day 50 years ago ABBA’s first album RING RING was released in Sweden.
During 1973 the album was released in only a handful of countries: the rest of Scandinavia, West Germany, Japan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and Colombia. It was reissued in Australia in 1975. In most of the world it wasn’t released until 1992.
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s first album Ring Ring. To celebrate, Universal Music are releasing the album on double half-speed mastered LP, a box set of 5 coloured vinyl singles, and 5 picture disc of singles from the album – People Need Love/Merry-Go-Round, He Is Your Brother/Santa Rosa, Ring Ring (Bara du slog en signal)/Åh, vilka tider, Ring Ring [English version]/She’s My Kind Of Girl, and Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough)/I Am Just A Girl.
An official announcement hasn’t been made yet, but the records have all appeared on Amazon UK and Amazon SE in the past few hours, with an expected release on 19 May. Official ABBA social media accounts have been hinting at something coming on the actual anniversary of the album’s release on 26 March (this coming Sunday). It’s happened before, where new releases have appeared on Amazon a day or so before the official announcement is made.
After receiving their first nomination for the Grammy Awards in 2021 for 2022 Record of the Year (‘I Still Have Faith In You’), ABBA have been nominated for four Grammy Awards for 2023:
Album of the Year: Voyage
Best Pop Vocal album: Voyage
Record of the Year: ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’
Though originally released in the 2022 qualifying period (1 October 2020-30 September 2021), ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ is eligible as it was released on the Voyage album during this year’s qualifying period.
The 2023 Grammy Awards will be presented on 5 February 2023 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
ABBA has been nominated for Most Popular International Artist in the Australian ARIA Awards 2022.
Voting is open to residents in Australia (except in the category of Most Popular International Artist where eligible votes will be accepted via Twitter from all countries throughout the world). Use the hashtag #ARIASABBA
Voting commences on 12 October 2022 at 11:00am (AEDT) and concludes on 16 November 2022 at 11:59pm (AEDT).
Votes submitted via the ARIA Voting Page in the applicable categories are limited to one (1) vote per ARIA Awards category per IP address per day (i.e. the time period from 00:00 to 23:59) during the relevant Voting Period.
In relation to votes submitted via the ARIA Voting Page, you are able to change the vote/s that you have cast during the day, but if you do so it will override your previous vote and your last vote for the day will be considered.
Votes submitted by Twitter in the ARIA Award category of Most Popular International Artist are unlimited during the specified Voting Period. There is no daily limit to the number of times you may submit a vote via Twitter for this ARIA Awards category.
The following votes are invalid:
Votes submitted from outside of Australia (with the exception of eligible votes submitted via Twitter).
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.
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.
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.