Posts Tagged ‘BAO’

New music from Benny and Björn

19 October, 2012

On top of the news that Agnetha is recording, the two men of ABBA also have new music coming.

First up Benny Anderssons Orkester (BAO) is releasing a new Christmas album, Tomten har åkt hem (Santa Claus has gone home), featuring new songs by Benny (with lyrics by Björn) and traditional Swedish Christmas music.

BAO is also releasing a career spanning box set, BAO IN BOX. The set contains 6 CDs, featuring all the contents of the six BAO albums (studio and live, including the new Christmas album). The CDs have been reformatted into themes – orchestra music, folk music, songs (2 discs), on tour, Christmas music.

The box also includes two DVDs featuring the 2001 documentary Benny Anderssons Orkester 10 år …(ten years) and Benny Anderssons Orkester på nya äventyr (…on a new adventure), filmed in 2001.

Tomten har åkt hem and BAO IN BOX are both scheduled for release in 14 November. See here for more information (in Swedish) and here for images of the box set contents and tracklistings.

Meanwhile, Björn has written lyrics for a new song, ‘I Can See Myself In You’, music by Tobias Gustavsson and sung by Tommy Körberg and Danny Saucedo. The duo will perform the ballad at the opening of the new Friends Arena in Stockholm on 27 October. The single is released digitally worldwide on 15 October (except the USA, it is expected later).

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Story Of A Heart and the music of Benny Andersson

26 May, 2009

benny09Just 24 hours ago the new Benny Andersson Band song ‘Story Of A Heart’ had its world premiere on BBC Radio 2.

‘Story Of A Heart’ features music by Benny Andersson and lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus, which has instantly attracted worldwide attention as a new song by the ABBA songwriting team.

The song is now available to listen online and ABBA fans everywhere have been commenting. Many have made comparisons to past B&B productions – that it sounds like ABBA, Gemini, Josefin Nilsson, even a song from Chess.

But in truth of course it sounds like all of those. Or more accurately, ‘Story Of A Heart’ and all the songs by those various acts sound like Benny Andersson songs. Benny has a distinctive style that has asserted itself going right back to ‘Sunny Girl’ by the Hep Stars in 1965. Almost immediately a Benny Andersson composition sounds like a Benny Andersson composition.

And that’s why when Benny still performs today he’s just as likely to play an ABBA hit as one of the folkish tunes he’s written for BAO – to him it’s they’re not ABBA songs or Hep Stars songs or BAO songs, they are all music that he has written.

Listen to ‘Story Of A Heart’ and leave your comments at icethesite.

2008 in review

1 January, 2009

Benny, Agnetha, Frida, Björn, Stockholm 4 July 2008 (fantasy photo, thanks to Raffem.com)2008 turned into one of the most phenomenal years in ABBA’s 36 year history, another peak in the ongoing ABBA revival.

Of course, this was mainly due to the film version of the musical based on the songs of ABBA, MAMMA MIA!

Following its premiere in London on 30 June, the movie became the number one film in many countries, even up against such blockbuster fare as the Batman sequel The Dark Knight. MAMMA MIA! has gone on to break box office records, becoming the highest-grossing film ever in the UK.

The movie divided critics and fans, but there’s no denying that it propelled ABBA back into the limelight. To date it has grossed more than US$570 million.

The Stockholm premiere of MAMMA MIA! on 4 July saw that rarest of events, the four former ABBA members at the same place at the same time. Agnetha and Frida danced together with actress Meryl Streep on the red carpet, and for the first time in over 22 years the four were photographed together, albeit alongside the film’s cast and crew. This disappointed many, but within hours Photoshopped pictures of “the ABBA reunion” (like the one above) were spread around the world.

The movie’s soundtrack CD was also a huge hit, topping the Billboard Album chart – the first ABBA-related album to top the US charts. The recently released DVD has already broken sales records in less than two months.

ABBA’s original recordings also made an impact this year, with the flagship compilation ABBA Gold topping the chart again in the UK, becoming the oldest number one album ever, and  it also topped the Billboard Pop Catalogue chart for the first time.

Other compilations including The Definitive Collection, Number Ones, 18 Hits and even the new box set ABBA – The Albums made chart appearances.

Updated versions of ABBA Gold, More ABBA Gold and the box set Thank You For The Music attracted new buyers, as did The Albums box set. A vinyl reissue of ABBA – The Album commemorated the 60th anniversary of the 12 inch 33⅓ rpm long-playing record.

Agnetha released a new double CD compilation of her Swedish and English solo songs, My Very Best.

Many unique ABBA books were released during the year, including ABBA & Me (a Dutch fan’s story), Historia de ABBA en ArgentinaMade in Suécia: o paraíso pop do ABBA (from Brazil), ABBA Let The Music Speak (a musician’s guide to ABBA), ABBA: The Scrapbook (a pictorial history), ABBA – The Story (the first full-length ABBA biography in Swedish, also in Norwegian and Danish versions), plus an updated version of the definitive English biography Bright Lights Dark Shadows.

Stig Anderson’s daughter Marie Ledin wrote a memoir of her father, Min pappa hette Stikkan. Benny denounced the anticipated tell-all, but in reality it was a loving tribute without the expected salacious gossip about the split between Stig and ABBA.

ABBA also joined the lucrative games market, with Singstar ABBA for PlayStation.

For a group that came to an end 26 years ago, that’s a lot more action than could be expected over many years, let alone all in one.

In sad news, drummer Ola Brunkert died in March at the age of 61 following an accident, and photographer Bengt H. Malqvist died in November at the age of 80.

And what of the future? There are those, including Benny himself, who see ABBA as over after this year.

2009 sees the 10th anniversary of the stage musical MAMMA MIA! along with the 35th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision Song Contest win; no doubt there will be commemorations for the twin anniversaries. ABBA’s Voulez-Vous album was released 30 years ago in April, and if past history is anything to go by, we may get a Deluxe Version of the album.

ABBA the Museum was to open in Stockholm in June, but due to problems with the site the opening has been postponed indefinitely. In the meantime the museum’s collection will be touring the world.

Benny Anderssons Orkester (Benny Andersson’s Orchestra, or BAO) will tour Sweden again in the northern Summer, and will also perform its first-ever concert in London in July. There is also talk of an English-language album – some songs have already been recorded.

Björn, Frida and Agnetha will probably remain as they have for the past few years, mostly maintaining their private lives with the occasional public appearance.

And while the music lives on, so will ABBA.

BAO on tour Summer 2009

8 December, 2008

Benny Anderssons OrkesterAfter a break from their annual Summer tour in 2008 Benny Andersson Orkester (BAO) with Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg will be touring Sweden in June and July 2009.

BAO will also be performing a special concert in Hampstead Heath in London on 4 July to commemorate Sweden’s taking over Presidency of the European Union. According to the ABBA Fan Club this will be a free concert.

The Swedish tour dates are:

26 June – Helsingborg, Sofiero Slott
27 June – Göteborg, Trädgårdsföreningen
28 June – Stockholm, Skansen
9 July – Borgholm, Slottsruinen
10 July – Västerås, Lögarängen
11 July – Leksand, Sammilsdalsgropen
12 July – Mariefred, Gripsholms Slott

For more information (in Swedish), see Mono Music.

For the latest news about BAO (in English), see icethesite.

ABBA today

24 December, 2007

ABBA in 2007 (clockwise from top left) Frida, Agnetha, Benny, BjörnOne of the most frequent search terms on this blog is “ABBA today”. Perhaps people are interested in what the former ABBA members are doing in 2007. Or maybe they want  to find out if ABBA are reuniting and touring (see Tribute acts trading as “ABBA”).

ABBA as a group came to an end 25 years ago this month. Since then, all four have mostly followed their own individual paths. Benny and Björn have continued various collaborations (including the musicals Chess and Kristina från Duvemåla), while Agnetha and Frida released several solo albums, before retiring from public life with the occasional new recording.

The four have come together a number of times for low key “reunions”. The only public appearance was a pre-taped television performance of ‘Tivedshambo’ for former ABBA manager Stig Anderson on a This Is Your Life-type programme in January 1986. They have sung together at several friends’ birthday parties in the 1980s and ’90s, most recently at business associate Görel Hanser’s 50th birthday in 1999.

The group has resisted all offers for a full-scale reunion, including the famous offer of an alleged 1 billion US dollars in 2000.

Benny is the only musically active of the four today. His band Benny Anderssons Orkester (Benny Andersson’s Orchestra), also known as BAO (pronounced “bow” as in “take a bow”), has released three studio albums of Benny’s compositions since the first CD in 2001, the most recent BAO 3 released in October 2007. Last year they also released a live CD, recorded on their almost annual Summer tour. Their live repertoire includes original music, Swedish folk, American evergreens and the occasional ABBA song.

Earlier this year Benny produced the music for the film version of the stage musical Mamma Mia!, also playing piano alongside many of ABBA’s original studio musicians. He also appeared at the November 2007 premiere of the musical in Barcelona, Spain.

On top of all this, Benny has been quite vocal in a campaign to reform European copyright laws.

Björn continues to write lyrics for Benny’s songs, but otherwise his activities are strictly non-musical. He and Benny have talked of writing another musical, but have yet to come up with any firm ideas.

His most public involvement is with the musical Mamma Mia!, most recently at the Berlin premiere in October 2007.

In Sweden he has become an outspoken supporter of the “Humanist” movement, revealing an atheistic viewpoint, questioning the influence of religion on world governments. In September 2007 he was interviewed for the international documentary series Why Democracy? .

Frida last recorded in 2004, singing the song ‘The Sun Will Shine Again’ on the CD Beyond The Notes, an album by former Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. She frequently attends celebrity events in Stockholm and London, and the occasional Mamma Mia! event, most recently the Berlin premiere with Björn. Otherwise she maintains her private life at her home in Switzerland.

In an October 2007 interview Frida said she and Jon Lord had been discussing the possibility of a full-length album project, but had not yet progressed beyond the discussion stage. Frida has a continuing involvement with various charitable causes, including promoting healthy, anti-drug lifestyles for young people.

Agnetha continues her private life on the island of Ekerö, just outside Stockholm, which is not the isolated, lonely island of myth, but a populated area on the eastern outskirts of Stockholm. Occasionally she turns up at nightclubs, parties or media events, belying her “recluse” reputation.

In November 2007 she attended a 20th anniversary party for Swedish channel TV3, and was seen dancing to ABBA tribute act Björn Again. Since her 2004 “comeback” album My Colouring Book, Agnetha has remained silent musically nor has she given any interviews.

ABBA after ABBA

27 October, 2007

Though ABBA as a group came to an end in December 1982, the individual members have revisited the music of their famous past on many occasions.

Frida was first as early as August 1983, when she sang a quickie rendition of ‘Ring Ring’ on the Swedish TV talk show Gäst Hos Hagge (Guest at Hagge’s Place). In May the following year she sang ‘I Have A Dream’ at a televised United Nations gala concert in Switzerland, accompanied by a children’s choir. In 2003 Frida gave a different rendition of ‘I Have A Dream’, singing with her friend, Swiss entertainer and restaurateur Dan Daniell  (aka Urs Biner) for a charity single.

Most famously Frida performed ‘Dancing Queen’ with a capella singers The Real Group for Swedish Queen Silvia’s 50th birthday concert in December 1993. The following year the song was released on the group’s album Varför får man inte bara vara som man är?, and is also included on their compilation The Real Group Bästa and on the 1999 CD ABBA – A Tribute.

Björn and Benny joined Irish superstars U2 at a Stockholm concert in June 1992 playing guitar and piano for a performance of ‘Dancing Queen’ – the last time Björn played guitar in public. In May 2002 the pair sang an impromptu rendition of ‘Fernando’ when  they were presented with the Special International Award at the Ivor Novello Awards in London. Somehow the lyric sheet they read off managed to cram parts of all three verses into one!

Benny Anderssons Orkester (Benny Andersson’s Orchestra, or BAO) has performed several ABBA songs on their summer tours of Sweden. In 2003 Helen Sjöholm sang ‘Money, Money, Money’; in 2004 Helen and Tommy Körberg sang ‘Ring Ring (bara du slog en signal)’ and ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’; in 2005 ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’ joined these three songs on the set list; in 2006 ‘Honey, Honey’ was added to the growing repertoire when the band performed in Minneapolis, USA; and in 2007 concerts ‘Hasta Mañana’ was also performed.

Benny has leant his keyboard skills to a couple of ABBA covers. In 2000 he played piano and synclavier on Swedish soprano Anne Sofie von Otter’s recording of ‘Like An Angel Passing Though My Room’ on her Elvis Costello produced album For The Stars. Benny also played piano on a haunting rendition of ‘When All Is Said And Done’, sung by Viktoria Tolstoy (great great granddaughter of War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy) on jazzman Nils Landgren’s 2004 CD Funky ABBA – incidentally one of the last recordings at Polar Studios.

He also took to the stage at some of the B&B tribute concerts in 1998, joining in on the last few numbers. He did the same thing at one of the Official ABBA Orchestra concerts in 2007.

Benny recorded an instrumental treatment of ‘Thank You For The Music’ for the menu of the 2005 DVD release of ABBA – The Movie.

Since ABBA ended, both women have sung on new music from their ex-husbands and ex-bandmates.

In January 1983, Agnetha sang vocals on the demo song ‘Every Good Man Needs A Helping Hand’ for their Chess musical project with Tim Rice – the song became ‘Heaven Help My Heart’, sung by Elaine Page (in the role of Florence) on the 1984 concept album. Agnetha’s recording has never been officially released, though it has been in circulation among fans for the past 20-odd years.

Also in 1984 Frida recorded the Andersson/Ulvaeus song ‘Slowly’ on her album Shine. Benny and Björn reworked this song the following year for the self-titled debut album for brother/sister duo Gemini. Frida’s recording probably sounds closer to Benny and Björn’s demo than the later Gemini version.

BAO 3

24 October, 2007

BAO 3Benny Anderssons Orkester (Benny Andersson’s Orchestra) releases its fourth CD and third studio album, BAO 3, today.

Since 2001 Benny and his band of musicians and singers have performed concerts across Sweden, and also in Glasgow (Scotland) and Minneapolis (Minnesota, USA). BAO concerts feature a mix of Benny’s compositions from the band’s CDs, traditional Swedish folk music, classic evergreens and even ABBA songs!

BAO 3 includes five songs with lyrics by Björn and one by Kristina Lugn (‘Nu mår jag mycket bättre’). Singers Tommy Körberg (of Chess fame) and Helen Sjöholm (Kristina från Duvemåla) also feature. Two songs, ‘Bonde söker fru’ and ‘Fait accompli’, were previewed at the Allsång på Skansen concert in August (see BAO in concert below). Also included is a song that Benny and Björn wrote in 1979 but never finished, ‘Crush On You’, widely reported a few months ago as a “lost” ABBA song.

Track list:

1. Marsch pannkaka (Pancake march)
2. För dig (For you) – vocals Helen and Tommy
3. Du frälste mig i sista stund (You saved me at the last moment)- Helen
4. Fait accomplit (Accomplished fact) – Tommy
5. Crush On You – Tommy and Helen
6. Calle J:s vals (Calle J’s waltz)
7. Helens brudvals (Helen’s bridal waltz)
8. Upp till dig (Up to you) – Helen
9. Bonde söker fru (Farmer seeks wife) – Tommy
10. Nu mår jag mycket bättre (Now I feel much better) – Helen and Tommy
11. Wienerbrot (Vienna bread)
12. Godnattvisa (Good night song)

BAO is performing two “dance” concerts in the next couple of weeks, at Globen in Stockholm on 26 October, and at Scandinavium in Gothenburg on 2 November. See Mono Music for more information (in Swedish) and links to tickets.

BAO in concert

7 August, 2007

Benny Anderssons OrkesterBenny Anderssons Orkester (BAO) performs tonight with Tommy Körberg at the annual televised concert series Allsång på Skansen. Regular singer Helen Sjöholm won’t be joining the band tonight, as she’s resting following the birth of her first child (a boy).

Tonight’s concert is expected to feature two new Andersson & Ulvaeus compositions, ‘Bonde söker fru’ (Farmer seeks wife) and ‘Fait accompli’.

BAO will be performing two “dance” concerts later this year, at Globen in Stockholm on 26 October, and at Scandinavium in Gothenburg on 2 November. Helen will be back on board along with Tommy, singing with the band for these two special concerts. See Mono Music for more information (in Swedish) and links to tickets.

BAO will also release a new album in the (northern) autumn. The new album will include an unfinished 1979 Benny & Björn song, ‘Crush On You’, often described in the media as a “lost ABBA song“, though due to its unfinished state back then, it was never in considertion for ABBA to record.


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