Archive for the ‘Frida’ Category

50 år B&B

8 June, 2016

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Sunday 5 June 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the first meeting of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. A chance meeting that became a firm friendship and songwriting partnership that endures to this day.

In a room filled with 300 or so invited family, friends and associates at Berns Salonger in central Stockholm, Björn and Benny celebrated the anniversary with a night filled with music, memories, and fun, arranged in secret by Benny’s son Ludvig Andersson, Görel Hanser, stage director and BAO member Lars Rudolfsson, and Master of Ceremonies Claes af Geijerstam.

The night featured an audio-visual presentation of Björn and Benny’s career. Interrupting the presentation were musical performances by guest singers, backed primarily by Benny Anderssons Orkester (without Benny), revisiting Björn and Benny’s vast catalogue.

Hep Stars lead singer Sven Hedlund sang Björn and Benny’s first song ‘Isn’t It Easy To Say’, apparently the first time he has ever performed the song live; Peter Jöback and Lill-Babs duetted on the Björn & Benny single ‘Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa’; Ludvig sang ‘Rock Me’ while his half-brother Peter Grönvall joined the band on keyboards; Pernilla Wahlgren and Lena Philipsson sang ‘Hole In Your Soul’; Helen Sjöholm sang ‘Where I Want To Be’ from Chess while Tommy Körberg sang BAO’s ‘Du är min man’, a reversal of their usual songs. Apparently there were other performances, but details haven’t been made public.

Paul McCartney sent a video greeting congratulating the pair on their long relationship and continued success. Björn and Benny have often professed that they were inspired to write songs, separately and together, by the example of Lennon and McCartney and The Beatles in the mid-1960s.

The night climaxed when Björn and Benny took to the stage to perform ‘Does Your Mother Know’, Björn handling lead vocals while Benny joined in on keyboards. After they returned to their seats, much to everyone’s surprise Frida and Agnetha were introduced to sing ‘The Way Old Friends Do’, dedicated to their old partners. Just as they did in 1979, Frida sang the first lines, Agnetha sang the next lines, then the two joined together in harmony. After the song, Björn and Benny returned to the stage for a brief emotional reunion.

With the formal events of the evening over, BAO took over with dance music until late in the evening.

Immediately the news of a so-called ABBA reunion flashed around the world. Unfortunately, as the story spread, it became more and more wrong about the events of the evening.

Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding of the song title, thanks to the way it had been introduced, it was reported in Expressen, quoting guitarist Janne Schaffer, that Frida and Agnetha had sung a song called ‘You And I’. Those are the first three words of ‘The Way Old Friends Do’, but are also the title of a song from Chess. So the story spread that they actually sang the song from Chess, perhaps not the best choice of song for a tribute. Then when other media outlets picked up the story and didn’t recognise that song title, but found that ABBA had a song called ‘Me And I’, they started reporting that the two women sang that song, an even less appropriate tribute than ‘You And I’ 

It was also widely reported that Björn and Benny joined the women on stage to sing, for an “ABBA reunion”, but that didn’t happen. The two men only returned to the stage after the song had finished. All the photos of the four together on stage on social media and elsewhere were taken in the minute or so after ‘The Way Old Friends Do’.

Pretty much every story stated that this was ABBA’s first public performance in 30 years. It was neither. The last (known) time the four sang together was 17 years ago, in June 1999 at Görel Hanser’s 50th birthday party. Prior to that they had also sung at Claes af Geijerstam’s 40th birthday party in 1986. Neither of these were public events, but like Sunday’s gathering, private parties for invited guests only.

The so-called last public performance by ABBA referred to in the media was not in public either, but to a small gathering of probably four or five with film crew and Görel and Anders Hanser, when they taped the performance of ‘Tivedshambo’ for Här är ditt liv (This Is Your Life) for Stig Anderson in January 1986. Hardly a public performance, but it was the last time “ABBA” were seen by the public, albeit on television 

After three decades of avoiding appearing as a group, this marked the second occasion that the four had been seen together this year. In January the four appeared on stage briefly at the opening of opening of Mamma Mia! The Party. Does this mean that a formal ABBA reunion is in the works? Of course not. On every occasion they’ve been together since 1982, it has been some private celebration, without media and fans present.

(Photo: Instagram @poptonten)

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Mamma Mia! It’s ABBA 2016

21 January, 2016

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Much to everyone’s surprise, not only did Bjorn, Frida, Benny and Agnetha attend the opening of Mamma Mia! The Party at Gröna Lund in Stockholm on the evening of Wednesday 20 January 2016, but the four appeared together on stage, posing and waving (briefly, for about 20 seconds or so).

(Photo: @grönalund instagram)

What is your favourite ABBA event of 2015?

1 January, 2016

2015 has been a slower year for ABBA, but there have still been many ABBA events, as well as things happening with Frida, Benny and Björn. What have been your favourites? Vote below for as many as you like. Please add any other events in the Comments.

 

 

There’s Something Going On

15 August, 2015

Something's Going On Deluxe EditionTo commemorate Frida’s 70th birthday in November, Polar Music is releasing a limited edition of her most successful international album, Something’s Going On, on 23 October.

The three-disc set contains the original 1982 album plus two bonus tracks (the same bonus tracks as the 2005 remaster); a DVD featuring the documentary Something Going On – The Making of a Record Album, the promotional video clips for four of the album’s songs, and two interviews; and a 7-inch vinyl single of the hit ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’.

The set also includes an art card of the album cover signed by Frida, and a booklet including liner notes written by Frida. It is limited to 2,000 copies.

From the images that have appeared so far on the official ABBA site, it looks like it will be a lovely, quality tribute for Frida’s birthday.

Something’s Going On was Frida’s declaration of independance from ABBA, just a few months before the band came to an end. The album sounded very different from anything she had done before, as a solo artist or in ABBA. Frida had been inspired by Phil Collins’ solo album Face Value, and hired him to produce. Though with such a distinctive style, at times it does sound like a Phil Collins album with Frida singing. Despite that, it’s my personal favourite of all the ABBA members’ solo albums.

Yes, there could have been more on the CD, but would the available suitable tracks add any value?  There is the single edit of ‘To Turn The Stone’, which takes a five and a half minute epic and hacks it down to 3.24; the alternate mix of ‘Here We’ll Stay’ that originally appeared on the Polar cassette version of the album, which would then put three versions of the same song on the CD; The outtake ‘Shot Down In Action’, which is included in the documentary, and is likely incomplete; the ABBA-cadabra songs ‘Belle’ and ‘Time’, which would sound out of place on this album, and may not be available from the rights holders. Frida herself has previously vetoed the issue of unreleased recordings.

Unfortunately distribution has been a bit of a mess due to third party providers. Amazon.co.uk has had it available for pre-order for many weeks, but with no details so customers did not know what they were ordering, and it’s now listed as “currently unavailable”. It appeared on ABBA The Museum’s webstore for about six hours (between midnight and 6 am CET, when its prime audience was asleep), the off and on for a few more hours until the allotted 100 copies were ordered. Since the official announcement it has appeared on a few more European webstores.

A limited item like this should have been available from a single official source, like ABBA The Museum or uDiscover. Hopefully distribution will be sorted out, so that all fans who want a copy get the chance to order it.

More information at ABBA | The official site.

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New music from Frida

25 January, 2015

1865Much to everyone’s surprise, in October 2014 Frida announced that she was working on a new musical project.

The new song, ‘1865’ is scheduled for release on 13 February. It’s a duet with Swiss entertainer Dan Daniell, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn, near Frida’s and Dan’s hometown of Zermatt.

Frida and Dan have previously collaborated in 2003 on the single ‘Lieber Gott’, which also featured a cover of ABBA’s ‘I Have A Dream’. Like that previous single, proceeds are donated to the charity Kinder in not (children in need).

Like all of Frida’s releases after 1996, she’s singing in support of a friend. Fans expecting “Frida’s next single” have expressed disappointment. But this is the Frida we have in the 21st century – an occasional song on another artist’s release. If not for these collaborations, we wouldn’t hear Frida’s voice at all.

‘1865’ will be available on CD from retailers in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, and from ABBA The Museum and the ABBA Fan Club Shop, and download from iTunes and Amazon (UK, Germany, France, Italy, SpainUSA).

What is your favourite ABBA event of 2014?

2 January, 2015

2014, being the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s win of the Eurovision Song Contest, has been one of the biggest years ever for ABBA. What were your favourite events? Vote below for as many as you like. Please add any other events in the Comments.

Gracias Por La Música Deluxe Edition

11 September, 2014

Gracias Por La Música Deluxe EditionABBA’s 1980 Spanish-language album is to be released as a Deluxe Edition CD/DVD on 10 November 2014.

The Deluxe Edition will feature the ten tracks featured on the original album, plus ABBA’s five other Spanish recordings: ‘Ring Ring’ (recorded in 1973, but unreleased until 1994), and tracks recorded for Super Trouper (1980) and The Visitors (1981), included on those albums in Spain and Latin America. As always it also includes a DVD of television performances, this time with every TV performance of ABBA’s Spanish songs.

I was quite surprised to hear that Gracias was to be re-released. In the modern ABBA catalogue it has been replaced by ABBA Oro, which has featured those same 15 songs since 1999. But many fans have a fondness for the original album, so should be very happy that it’s finally seeing a worldwide CD release. Previously, Gracias Por La Música has only had limited release on CD in the 1980s and early 90s, in Japan and Argentina. It has been something of a lost album.

The package includes the usual detailed history of the recording of the album, plus a special greeting from Frida, in Spanish and English.

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The 40th anniversary week

3 May, 2014

abba40The 40th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision Song Contest win was celebrated in great style in early April.

Of course there are many new releases to mark the anniversary, with ABBA – The Official Photo Book, Waterloo Deluxe Edition CD and DVD, ‘Waterloo’ single picture disc, The Singles 40 disc box set, and much more, with even more still to come.

The highlights of the anniversary commemorations were events in Stockholm and London on Sunday April 6th (the actual anniversary) and Monday April 7th.

On the Sunday afternoon ABBA The Museum in Stockholm held a concert on the museum’s forecourt, featuring an especially-created choir singing several ABBA songs. Benny Andersson joined the choir, playing piano as they sang ‘Thank You For The Music’, and then joining the choir on stage for a bow.

On the Monday night the Tate Modern gallery in London hosted ABBA The Official International Anniversary party, to launch The Official Photo Book and to commemorate the anniversary. One thousand ticket-buying fans joined 500 VIP guests for a night of ABBA music, with a small exhibition of photos from the book, and a brief appearance by Björn and Frida, which was followed by another performance by ABBA The Museum/The Choir.

The following Sunday (April 13th) Benny and Björn joined the London cast of Mamma Mia! at the Olivier Awards in London, performing one chorus of ‘Thank You For The Music’ for the awards show finale. Yes, you read that right: Benny and Björn actually performed on stage, on accordion and guitar respectively.

After a couple of interviews in London with Frida and Björn, there was much media and fan speculation that an ABBA reunion could be on the cards, after Frida said “that it would be fun, maybe, to record something”. Björn rather strangely added ” if there was out of, you know, pure magic, a fantastic song that would suit ABBA very well, you know, who knows”. Of course he wasn’t going to contradict Frida on camera, was he? Benny followed it up on the red carpet at the Olivier Awards, saying “I don’t think so”, then adding sarcastically “Well what do I know?”, clearly miffed that everyone was predicting an ABBA reunion except the one man who would be writing the music.

Agnetha was nowhere to be seen at any of these events. Apparently she was enjoying a holiday in Majorca. In May last year she missed the opening of ABBA The Museum, as she was in London doing interviews to promote her solo album A. In 2004 she missed the 5th anniversary of Mamma Mia! in London, which Björn, Frida and Benny attended (Benny quite reluctantly), as she was working on the documentary for her current album My Colouring Book.

Promoting her solo album A last year Agnetha was happy to use ABBA, from the cover sticker “New solo album by Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA”, to the title of her official television documentary Agnetha: ABBA and After, three-quarters of which was devoted to ABBA. As recently as November last year she hinted in an interview that she would be willing to do something with the other three, and that there were plans for the 40th anniversary (which set off another worldwide media frenzy of “ABBA reunion” headlines). But when there’s an actual ABBA event, she actively avoids the situation.

What is your favourite ABBA event of 2013?

27 December, 2013

Ring Ring Deluxe Edition (October)It’s been quite an ABBA year, especially for Agnetha. What have been your favourite ABBA events in 2013? Chose up to five from the list below, or add anything else to the comments.

 

Before ABBA

28 June, 2013

Before ABBAFor people unfamiliar with the careers of the Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid before they came together as ABBA – and let’s face it, aside from hardcore ABBA fans and older generations of Swedes, that’s pretty much everyone – a new compilation CD has been released.

Before ABBA brings together three songs each from Bjorn’s group Hootenanny Singers, Benny’s group Hep Stars, Anni-Frid and Agnetha’s solo records, and the duo Bjorn & Benny.

Highlights include Agnetha and Anni-Frid’s first solo singles, the first three songs written by Benny, and the first recording to feature the voices of all four. It might not necessarily include the best songs from each, or include more of those songs that show the coming together of ABBA (e.g. Benny & Bjorn’s first joint composition, other songs featuring the participation of an increasing number of future ABBA members), but it’s a nice representation of the four careers, before becoming ABBA.

There is something delightfully retro about the artwork that I find really appealing. No fancy booklet, just the song details listed on the back, but it does have a cardboard gatefold sleeve with a short blurb (in Swedish and English) about he individual careers.

The catch is that the CD is only available in the store at ABBA The Museum in Stockholm. I don’t know if it will be available from the museum’s webstore, when that eventually opens.

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