Posts Tagged ‘1982’

The end of ABBA

11 December, 2012


Today marks the 30th anniversary of ABBA’s last appearance as a group, before taking a “break” that has continued to this day.

Having done almost no in-person publicity for 1981’s The Visitors, the last three months of 1982 saw ABBA on a publicity blitz promoting the compilation ABBA – The Singles – The First Ten Years, new singles ‘The Day Before You Came’ and ‘Under Attack’, and commemorating the band’s 10th anniversary.

In October ABBA were interviewed for the Dutch television special The Story Of ABBA. This special has been made available on DVD under several different titles.

On November 5th a party was held at the Belfry Club in London celebrating ABBA’s ten years. Epic Records, ABBA’s UK licensee, presented the group with a large framed award featuring gold records of ABBA’s 23 singles featured on The Singles album.

The following day Agnetha and Benny appeared on the UK morning children’s television show Saturday Superstore. That evening the whole group appeared on The Late Late Breakfast Show, being interviewed by host Noel Edmunds which ended with an “impromptu” performance of ‘Thank You For The Music’. This programme is featured on The Visitors Deluxe Edition DVD released in April this year.

On November 11th ABBA were interviewed on German TV’s Thommy’s Pop Show. Later the same day they performed ‘The Day Before You Came’, its B-side ‘Cassandra’, and ‘Under Attack’ on Show Express. This latter performance is a popular one among ABBA fans.

On November 19th ABBA appeared on Swedish talk show Nöjesmaskinen (The Entertainment Machine), in one of the group’s most relaxed interviews ever. It’s almost as though they know the end is near, and they (mostly) drop their guard. They performed another rendition of ‘Thank You For The  Music’ around Benny’s piano, and also performed the newest (and as it turned out final) single ‘Under Attack’. This programme is also featured on The Visitors Deluxe Edition DVD.

On December 11th ABBA made their final appearance as a group, with a satellite interview on The Late Late Breakfast Show. It was a rather ignoble end, with an inconsequential interview filled with silly questions. The show ended with performances of ‘I Have A Dream’ and ‘Under Attack’. These two performances were included on the Number Ones DVD (2006).

Then ABBA took their well-publicised break, so that Benny and Björn could fulfil their dream of writing a musical (Chess, with British lyricist Tim Rice), while Frida and Agnetha resumed their solo careers. For years all four maintained that the group was just on a break but would reconvene at some point, but it seems obvious that none of them were really interested in being ABBA anymore; the last couple of years as a group had been difficult and it became evident that inspiration for the group was gone.

(Thanks to ABBA on TV and ABBA Annual for some details)

The final sessions

1 September, 2012

In 1982 ABBA made what would be the group’s final recordings.

In May Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Frida convened to start recording ABBA’s 9th album. After recording just three songs – ‘You Owe Me One’, ‘Just Like That’ and ‘I Am The City’ – the group abandoned plans for a new album, and announced the end-of-year release of a career-spanning compilation double album, planned to include one or two new songs to be recorded in August. The May recordings were shelved for a possible future album.

In August they came together to record three new songs – firstly ‘Cassandra’ and ‘Under Attack, and then on August 20 what became the last ABBA song, ‘The Day Before You Came’.

I’ve always considered those songs from 1982 to be the “postscript” of ABBA’s career. On first hearing The Visitors in December 1981, and reading between the lines of what had been going on with the ABBA members for quite some time, I wouldn’t have been surprised if The Visitors was the end of ABBA.

So I was most surprised during 1982 to learn that they were recording and would release more songs. Though those two singles, and the compilation album ABBA The Singles – The First Ten Years (with its ironic subtitle), did seem to put a full stop to ABBA’s career.

In November and December ABBA made their final television appearances on programmes in the United Kingdom, West Germany and Sweden. They seemed much more relaxed and at ease than they had in years. I wonder if, despite all those comments that ABBA would be “taking a break”, that they actually felt relief that it was all over.

The Visitors Deluxe Edition

27 January, 2012

This week fans everywhere were excited at the news that a Deluxe Edition of ABBA’s final album, The Visitors, will be released on April 23rd.

The CD/DVD package includes the original 9-track album from 1981, the non-album b-side of the first single released from the album (‘Should I Laugh Or Cry’), five of the six tracks recorded the following year (both sides of the two 1982 singles, plus ‘I Am The City’, not released until it was featured on More ABBA Gold in 1993). The accompanying DVD includes two songs from the 1981 television special Dick Cavett Meets ABBA (one of ABBA’s few group TV appearances during 1981), the original promotional clip for ‘When All Is Said And Done’ (with an alternate version of the song), some of ABBA’s final TV appearances from late-1982, TV commercials and sleeve gallery.

Most exciting to fans is the news that it will also include previously unreleased ABBA music, the first time any “new” material has been allowed out of the so-called vaults since the Thank You For The Music box set in 1994.

The intrigingly-titled ‘From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel’, described as “a medley of demos”, hints at unheard versions of the albums closing track “Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’. It is known that there were several different attempts at recording the song (thanks to Carl Magnus Palm’s book ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions) before the final version was recorded just a few weeks before the album’s release. One of those early versions had the working title ‘Twinkle Twinkle’.

The world’s media has picked up on the “unreleased track” news, with the story spreading like wildfire to seemingly every news outlet in the world over the last few days. Perhaps unsurprisingly as the news spread it started to morph into stories of “a new song”, “a new single”, even hints of a group reformation.

Fans of course lament the non-inclusion of the sixth song recorded in 1982, the legendary ‘Just Like That’, the rest of the Dick Cavett TV special, ABBA’s appearance on Show Express in November 1982 (when they performed three of the four songs released that year), and other potential inclusions from the period. There are, no doubt, valid reasons that may become clearer later.

The Visitors is the sixth ABBA studio album to receive the deluxe treatment, after Waterloo 30th Anniversary Edition (2004), Arrival (2006), ABBA – The Album (2007), Voulez-Vous (2010) and Super Trouper (2011).

Read the announcement, including the full track list, at ABBA – The Official Site, and a little more information on Carl Magnus Palm’s site.

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