Posts Tagged ‘The Singles’

ABBA The Singles – new box set

8 June, 2014

ABBA The SingleAmong the many new releases commemorating the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision triumph, one of the big ticket items (mainly due to its size and its price) is the box set ABBA The Singles.

The Singles contains 40 7 inch vinyl singles, 40 singles for 40 years. It includes replicas of all 31 singles released by Polar Music in Scandinavia, from ‘People Need Love’ in 1972 to ‘Under Attack’ in 1982, including the Swedish language singles of ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’. For those singles that were released in Sweden, they appear here as they were originally released. As not all Polar singles were released in Sweden, the Danish or Norwegian singles were the template for the rest.

The other nine singles come from all over the world. The German singles of ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’ and ‘Honey, Honey’ (though in English, but it includes the 1974 ‘Ring Ring’ remix on the B side); The French single of ‘Waterloo’; Argentinean singles of the Spanish versions ‘Chiquitita’ and ‘Estoy Soñando’; plus ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ (from the UK), ‘Happy New Year’ (Portugal) and ‘When All Is Said And Done’ (Australia).

Also in the box set are a set of cards with Bjorn telling stories behind the six of the songs. These are fascinating insights into both the lyrics and the circumstances around the creation of the songs, and I would have loved to have seen more of these – not necessarily one for every song, but maybe 12 or 15.

A couple of things could have been done differently. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the additional 9 singles have modern style labels, rather than matching the contemporary Polar labels. And perhaps it could have included a different ‘Estoy Soñando’, for a different sleeve image and B side. As I was honoured to have helped with the selection of singles, I could have suggested a different single. But those are just minor quibbles.

The Singles is limited to 4,500 (unnumbered) sets. It’s beautifully made, with each single reflecting its original release, right down to the label style, hole size and quality of paper used for the sleeve. It’s a lovely collector’s item.

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The end of ABBA

11 December, 2012

portraitabba82

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)


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