Posts Tagged ‘Waterloo’

Alternate versions

18 May, 2014

WaterlooABBA’s main catalogue consists of 98 individual songs, with a plethora of well-known alternate versions: recordings in languages other than English, remixes, edits and more.

However, there are a number of alternate versions of ABBA songs that evaded most fans for many years, or the stories behind them aren’t well known. Here is the first part of a two-part look at some of those alternate mixes.

Waterloo: when the English version of ‘Waterloo’ was first released in Sweden in March 1974, the single contained an early mix, not the final approved one. When it was discovered, the single was recalled, and reissued win the correct mix under the same catalogue number. Some copies had already been sold and remained out in the world. This alternate mix was not widely known among ABBA fans until the early 21st century, when fans who owned the single started discussing it in online forums. The alternate mix was included in The Complete Studio Recordings box set in 2005. It is now available on the Waterloo Deluxe Edition CD (2014).

Ring Ring: in 1974 after the number one success of ‘Waterloo’, Epic Records in the UK decided that ABBA’s 1973 Eurovision hopeful ‘Ring Ring’ should be re-released as the follow up single. But rather than re-release the 1973 version, Epic Records A&R man Paul Atkinson suggested it should be “beefed up” to more closely resemble the sound of ‘Waterloo’. Atkinson flew to Stockholm to oversee the makeover, which featured a heavier sounding guitar riff, and a short saxophone riff near the end of the choruses. It seems that it may have actually been a different take of the vocal. As well as being released in the UK (where it reached a dismal number 32), it was also released in Australia and West Germany. Curiously, it appears that in West Germany it was intended as the A side, backed with ‘Honey, Honey’, but it was ‘Honey, Honey’ that was promoted and sold as the A side. It’s certainly the side that ABBA promoted on various West German television shows. This mix was also used on the promotional clip, filmed in June for distribution for television stations around the world. A different mix of the alternate version appeared on the Atlantic Records Waterloo album in the USA and Canada, with an even heavier and noisier mix, and saxophone riffs after every line of the chorus. The single mix first appeared on CD in the CD singles box set Singles Collection 1972*1982 in 1999, mastered from a vinyl single as the master could not be located. The master was eventually found, and included on the 2001 compilation The Definitive Collection. The so-called US mix was first released on CD on the Waterloo remaster in 2001. Both mixes are included on the Waterloo Deluxe Edition CD.

Man In The Middle: another alternate mix that only came to light in recent years is the ABBA album track ‘Man In The Middle’ from 1975. First thought to only have appeared in the 1986 Polydor CD release of the ABBA album in Japan, it has since been found that it appeared on the album when released in France by Vogue Records in 1975. The difference is minor: on the standard version the vocal “in the middle middle middle… ” at the end of the second chorus has been subjected to electronic treatment, and possibly an additional overdub by engineer Michael B. Tretow, making it deeper and more rumbling. On the alternate mix, this vocal is untreated, like the one at the end of the first chorus.

Fernando: when ABBA performed their new single ‘Fernando’ on the West German television special The Best Of ABBA in early 1976, they mimed to a very different mix to the one released on record. This version featured a chiming sound playing a counter melody throughout the choruses. Later in the year, ABBA performed ‘Fernando’ on the US program Midnight Special, the backing track over which ABBA sang live had two extra bars of music in the break between the first chorus and the following verse. Neither of these variations has been released on CD, though the full West German TV special was briefly available in a DVD box set of the Musikladen series.

When I Kissed The Teacher: the Swedish television special ABBA-dabba-doo!! featured specially-made clips or performances of most of the songs from the forthcoming Arrival album. The special included an early mix of the album’s opening track ‘When I Kissed The Teacher’. The first verse was missing the echoed vocal “they dreamed”, and the rumbling build up under the lines “nearly petrified cause he was taken by surprise”. The rest of the track is a slightly different mix from the album version. This version was released on DVD along with the entire special on the Arrival Deluxe Edition in 2006.

The King Has Lost His Crown, Kisses Of Fire, Lovers (Live A Little Longer), Does Your Mother Know: in February 1979 ABBA travelled to Switzerland to make the television special ABBA in Switzerland. Several early mixes of songs from the unfinished Voulez-Vous album were included. The most radical difference was ‘Does Your Mother Know’, which had a much looser and more rock and roll feel than the discofied final version released on record a few months later. The special including all these alternate versions was released on the Voulez-Vous Deluxe Edition DVD in 2010.

More alternate mixes to come in part 2…

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 Agnetha really said

12 November, 2013

Following the sensational worldwide headlines started by their story over the weekend, today Die Welt has published online their full Agnetha story. The question of a potential ABBA reunion and Agnetha’s response becomes clearer. But still she does not say that there are plans for an ABBA reunion in April next year.

Here is the translation, courtesy of Google Translate. It’s not perfect, but you get the gist.

Die Welt: Of all the members of Abba, you were the one who always expressed most vehemently against a reunion Fältskog: Yes.
Die Welt: You also said that you would have a unique appearance with your colleagues, perhaps for a good cause, not mutually exclusive. If one was offering you, at an event like, say, “Live Aid” act, because you would seriously consider?
Fältskog: Yes. If we could unite all four on the purpose for which we want to do that, if it were only a one-time event – then, yes, we would certainly consider it. At the same time trickles yes. We’re all getting older. I can not imagine that we would go with my crutches on stage. Who knows what happened yet.
Die Welt: There are examples of successful Reunions: Led Zeppelin had a concert in London teamed up again in 2007.
Fältskog: I know, yes.
Die Welt: 20 million people were looking to buy tickets, 20,000 were in the O2 Arena. Would tempt such a thing?
Fältskog: I do not trust myself, nor anything to say (laughs).
Die Welt: Too bad. It almost sounds like there is something to say on the subject.
Fältskog: Sure, we think about it. See: In April 2014 it will be 40 years ago that we won with “Waterloo” the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton. There are probably plans to make the occasion of this anniversary something. But I still do not know what comes of it. I also do not currently know it exactly.
Die Welt: Why not?
Fältskog: I’m a person who often makes too many thoughts. If such an event should take place, and I knew well in advance notice, I would break my head over it all the time. It eats too much life energy. It is similar to my fear of flying.
Die Welt: You suffer, since you had to make an emergency landing during their 1979 U.S. tour with your private jet, after you were caught in a storm.
Fältskog: Yes. If I have to fly today, I want not to know well in advance. That worries me too much. For me, it is better if such a request may reached me a week before, I care even on the same day.
Die Welt: It sounds like you would an Abba Reunion approach as a long-delayed but always made the leap ten meters tower: climb up fast, do not look down above, do not think, jump down.
Fältskog: That hits pretty well. Not only think – just do it.

Meanwhile, when asked for comment by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter Benny has responded “It’s probably best if you ask her. I think that I probably ought to know if it were up to date” (Google Translate again). In other words, he doesn’t know a thing about any reunion plans, but if there were such plans he would know.

ABBA conductor, arranger dead

9 June, 2011

Sven-Olof Walldoff, the Swedish orchestra leader famous for appearing at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest dressed as Napoleon as he conducted the orchestra for ABBA’s winning performance of ‘Waterloo’, has died at the age of 82.

In addition to that famous appearance, Walldoff conducted the orchestra when ABBA performed at Melodifestivalen, the Swedish qualifying heat for the ESC. He also arranged the strings on ABBA’s recordings ‘I Am Just A Girl’,  ‘Honey, Honey’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Dancing Queen’.

But his association with ABBA pre-dates the group’s formation:  his orchestra played on many of Agnetha’s solo records right back to her first self-titled album in 1968, and also played for Hootenanny Singers ‘En Gång Är Ingen Gång’ in 1967, Frids’s final EMI single ‘Vi är alla bara barn i början’/’Kom en sjung en sång’ in 1972, and wrote string arrangements for Björn and Benny’s 1970 LP Lycka. Sven-Olof Walldoff’ Orkester (orchestra) backed a veritable who’s who of the Swedish music scene in the 1960s and 70s, including many Polar records.

Contrary to popular belief it is not Walldoff dressed as Napoleon on ABBA’s Waterloo LP sleeve – that was bassist Mike Watson.

Source: eurosong.be

Vote for the Best ABBA Song Ever

12 May, 2009

waterloo35To commemorate the 35th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision Song Contest win with ‘Waterloo’, albeit a month after the anniversary but coinciding with this year’s competition, ABBA The Official Site is poling for the “Best ABBA Song Ever”.

Voting is open now until May 18. All voters are eligible to win ABBA merchandise prizes including a new limited edition ABBA necklace.

Finally facing their 'Waterloo'

6 April, 2009

eurovisionToday marks the 35th anniversary of ABBA’s historic win of the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’.

To many people this is the defining moment in ABBA’s history. But is it really?

To countries such as the USA and Australia the ESC meant nothing at the time. ABBA’s emergance was probably the first time that many people outside of Europe had even heard of the contest.

It was the 1975 hits ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ that created the ABBA phenomenon.

So is ‘Waterloo’ and the ESC win really that important to ABBA history?

‘Waterloo’ is completely atypical of what ABBA was capable of. It is nothing like anything else in the ABBA catalogue, except for perhaps ‘Ring Ring’, which was created for the same purpose.

It is true to say that ‘Waterloo’ and the ESC performance was the first time that ABBA really got noticed outside of Europe, especially in the English-speaking world, and without it it’s possible that the later classics may never have gained attention.

But it could also be said that the quality of ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ and then later singles would have become international hits anyway and led to ABBA’s enduring success.


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