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AGNETHA'S 3 1980's ENGLISH LANGUAGE SOLO ALBUMS

& Agnetha's 2004 Comeback album MY COLORING BOOK

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REVIEWS of WRAP YOUR ARMS AROUND ME (1983), EYES OF A WOMAN (1985) and I STAND ALONE(1987) MY COLORING BOOK(2004)

 

AGNETHA Fältskog-WRAP YOUR ARMS AROUND ME June 1983 Available internationally on CD Remastered and reisued with bonus tracks in 2005

Wrap Your Arms Around Me was released worldwide (even in darkest America), it was produced by British pop producer Michael Chapman. It was not a ABBA level success, but this was Agnetha's most internationally successful solo album. and even Agnetha herself was happy with this album.. Many of the songs on this album are close in spirit to Agnetha's pre--ABBA ballad style. However, the songs themselves are not very interesting. This album does not compare well to Agnetha's work with ABBA. Nor does this album seem as personal as Agnetha's best Swedish solo work, perhaps, because only one of the songs here was written by Agnetha-"Man".

Two of the best songs here are (and i am flipping a coin here) perhaps "the Heat Is On" and the title track. But there really are no great
songs here. Strangely, a few of the songs ("Take Good Care of Your Children", "Once Burned Twice Shy", "Stand By Your Side") have a sort of light pop/soul sound to them . Oddly, Aggie had told the songwriter of "Take Good Care of Your Children" Polar labelmate,Tomas Ledin , that she wanted a reggae song to sing...

One of the album's most successful recordings is "Can't Shake Loose". If "Can't Shake Loose' sounds like a remake of Frida's "Something Going On " it's because both songs were written by songwriter Russ Ballard. He almost ended up having to sue himself. But, he did accomplish something that Bjorn and Benny could not.. Both of Ballard's songs for the ABBA girls got played by American Album orientated rock stations . These stations that would play Van Halen or Led Zeppelin and would never play ABBA .

If you want to be honest you would probably have to say "Can't Shake Loose" is a fairly good record. If you want to be honest you might have to say the Yankees are better than the Red Sox... "Can't Shake Loose" was the last hit that either of the ABBA girls would have in America.

The most amusing song here is "Mr. Persuasion" which sounds like it would make a good song for a exercise video with it's "You take me UP, DOWN chorus. It has has a great line-"Well I have a mind but I put it on vacation"...

This album was recorded at Polar Studios in Stockholm, in January- to March 1983. Michael B. Tretow engineered the album and some of ABBA's band like the ever-faithful Bassist, Rutger Gunnarson played on the record.
There was some debate as to whether or not to use Agnetha's last name on the record label and jacket. Record Companies wondered whether DJ's would be able to say Aggie's last name. In the end she decided that her last name would stay. After all, people couldn't say her first name correctly either and the seldom used 'Anna " nickname wasn't a option at this point in the game.

I am amazed that somebody can be the most prominent member of a group that sells 300 million records and still Professional DJ's don't know to say her name. Of course, most non-Swedish ABBA fans can't say her name properly either!

The 2005 remaster adds the Swedish markert single recorded for a movie It's So Nice To Be Rich (a-side) and P&B (b-side) as well as two versions of the Tomas Ledin single "Never Again"and an dance mix of "The Heat Is On".

 

 

 Track listing for WRAP YOUR ARMS AROUND ME

Side 1
1.The Heat Is On (Palmer-Ashton)(3:50)
2.Can't Shake Loose (Ballard)(4:20)
3.Shame (Allen)(3:40)
4.Stay (Allen)(3:20)
5.Once Burned, Twice Shy (Tyler-Brannan)(3:40)
6.Mr. Persuasion (Lynch-Whitman)(2:45)

Side 2
1.Wrap Your Arms Around Me (Chapman-Knight) (5:15)
2.To Love (Brandt-Goodrum)(3:49)
3.I Wish Tonight Could Last Forever (Ballard) (4:12)
4.Man (
Fältskog) (3:31)
5.Take Good Care Of Your Children (Ledin) (3:42)
6.Stand By My Side (deAngelis -deAngelis- Cowles)(4:16)

Bonus Tracks on 2005 remaster
Never Again (duet with Tomas Ledin)
It's So Nice To Be Rich (a-side)
P&B (b-side)
The Heat Is On (Super Dance Music Mix)
Ya Nunca Más (Spanish version of "Never Again")

Agnetha Fältskog -EYES OF A WOMAN March 1985 Available in many territories on CD Remastered and reisued with bonus tracks in 2005

Agnetha's second English language solo album was produced by former 10cc lead singer Eric Stewart. Eric, like many people in the music industry was in awe of ABBA. He brought a more rock/pop orientated approach than Michael Chapman. Although the records sounds less like a Agnetha album than Wrap Your Arms Around Me this album has the advantage of not featuring Michael Chapman's dreary production values. This is Agnetha's most upbeat solo album.. This album uses some top name British songwriters.

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues wrote "The Angels Cry" a truly haunting track. ELO's Jeff Lynne wrote the powerpop opening tune- "One Way Love" and Asia's John Wetton and Greg Downes wrote "We Move As One' the anthemic closer. "I Won't Let You Go" was written by Agnetha with Eric Stewart and was released as a single. It was Agnetha's last composition to be performed by herself. All of these songs work pretty well. I like a lot a lot of the other songs as well.

"Click track" in particular, stood out well at 3AM Saturday morning when I wrote this review. The songs on this album seem to provoke different reactions from different listeners. I tend to think that this album works well since it seems to draw on the same strength that ABBA did-Give Agnetha a good pop song and she will deliver the goods. But some fans are indifferent to this album's charms and I would admit the album has not aged particularly well. Nor did the album do particularly well commercially outside Scandinavia.

Side one of this album is perhaps Agnetha's best LP side ever. So many listenable songs- Yes, Agnetha could have done a lot worse. She could have locked herself in her house....or gone horse riding or watched Dallas or read that latest one by Mary French or something in that style...

.
ABBA sidefolk Rutger Gunnarsson ,Anders and Karin Glenmark appear on this album. ABBA engineers Michael Tretow and Paris Edvinson engineered the sessions which were recorded at Polar Studios.

Two songs- Agnetha's composition "Your There" and engineer, Paris Edvinson's "Turn The World Around" were released as non-album B-sides on the singles that promoted this album, and both tracks could be found on CD for the first time on the VOICE OF ABBA compilation...

EYES OF A WOMAN like Frida's SHINE , was never released in the USA. it's not easy being an American ABBA fan!

The 2005 remaster adds a non album single, two non -album B-sides and a longer mix of "I Wont Let You Go"

 Track listing for WRAP YOUR ARMS AROUND ME

Side 1
1.The Heat Is On (Palmer-Ashton)(3:50)
2.Can't Shake Loose (Ballard)(4:20)
3.Shame (Allen)(3:40)
4.Stay (Allen)(3:20)
5.Once Burned, Twice Shy (Tyler-Brannan)(3:40)
6.Mr. Persuasion (Lynch-Whitman)(2:45)

Side 2
1.Wrap Your Arms Around Me (Chapman-Knight) (5:15)
2.To Love (Brandt-Goodrum)(3:49)
3.I Wish Tonight Could Last Forever (Ballard) (4:12)
4.Man (
Fältskog) (3:31)
5.Take Good Care Of Your Children (Ledin) (3:42)
6.Stand By My Side (deAngelis -deAngelis- Cowles)(4:16)

Bonus Tracks on 2005 remaster
Never Again (duet with Tomas Ledin)
It's So Nice To Be Rich (a-side)
P&B (b-side)
The Heat Is On (Super Dance Music Mix)
Ya Nunca Más (Spanish version of "Never Again")

Agnetha Fältskog-I Stand Alone November 1987 Available on CD internationally

This was the last album for a long while. This album wsa produced by Peter Cetera and Bruce Gaitsh. Peter Cetera ( formerly of the American band -Chicago) who like any sensible person is a big fan of ABBA. At the time of this album, Peter was at the peak of his laidback and somewhat bland solo career.

Thus this album largely favors a very bland, laidback but sweet sound.

Somehow, Peter Cetera managed to convince Agnetha (who has a fear of flying) to come to Malibu, California to record this album . The rumoir is that she went there because she had crush on co-producer Bruce Gaitsh.

That she went to America does surprise a little since she rejected a similar opportunity to have Barry Gibb produce a a solo album for her, if she would only come to Miami....

Her willingness to work with Peter Cetera somehow helped enable Agnetha to get an American release for this record....
However, the album disappeared with out a trace in the American market (and did poorly pretty much everywhere but Scandinavia).
Interestingly , this was the first ABBA related album to be issued on CD in America at time of initial release

The songwriters this time included David Foster, Peter Cetera and Diane Warren, perhaps the most successful songwriter of the '80s & the "90's. But the songs are unremarkable... However, since the songs are unremarkable they do not outshine poor Agnetha who's the one with her name on her album. All the musicians seem to be American sideman,indeed, as far as I could tell-Agnetha was the only Swede on the record...she truly stood alone.

Agnetha's actually able to bring the best out of songs like "Maybe it was Magic' or "Let It shine". The sameness of the songs makes this also a more cohesive album . I mean if you like one song- you'll probably like them all. A lot of people like the straight forward emotionality of the songs on this album. So this album has aged surprisingly well.

Two of the songs have more interesting arrangements. "The Last Time" is a dramatic opener and the title track sounds proud, defiant.There is actually some pretty effective horns,synthesizer, and percussion on the title track.

Somehow, Peter Cetera managed to convince Agnetha (who has a fear of flying) to come to Malibu, California to record this album . The rumour is that she went there because she had a crush on co-producer Bruce Gaitsh.

For variety of reasons (primarily the desire for privacy) Agnetha withdrew from the record making business at this juncture. It would be sixteen years before before she would make any new recordings of any kind, the longest dry spell ever of any member of ABBA..

Since this album was not originally released by Polar it was not reissued by Polar/Universal in 2004 when Agnetha's other English language albums were reissued.

 

Track listing for I STAND ALONE

Side 1
1.The Last Time (Randall-Randall-Law) 4.12)
2. Little White secrets (Schwartz/Bruno/Pomerantz) 4.04
3. I Wasn't The One (Who said Goodbye)-duet with Peter Cetera- (Mueller-Zigman) 4.10
4. Love In A World Gone Mad (Livsey-Sinfield)4.08
5. Maybe It was Magic (Brown-Hurley) 4.07

Side 2
1. Let It Shine (Roberts-LaBounty-Foster)3.58
2. We Got a Way (Robinson-Glde-Walsh)3.50
3. I Stand Alone (Cetera-Gaitsch) 4.52
4. Are You Gonna Throw It All Away (Warren/Hammond)4.52
5. If You Need Somebody Tonight (Warren-Hammond) 3.32

The following is not a 80's solo album but it is sung in the ENGLISH language !!!

AGNETHA Faltskog -My Coloring Book International CD release April 2004

Oh my god,! Oh my god... She came back!!! and All the songs are recorded in English. Most of the songs are covers of songs by 1960's artists that Agnetha was inspired by like Connie Francis, Dusty Springfield, Frank Sinatra, and Cilla Black. The album is produced by Agnetha along with Anders Neglin and Dan Strömkvist. "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" was released as the leadoff single.. Prior to this album.,Agnetha didn't have much opportunity to do too many covers of classic pop music during her solo career because most of her material was newly written for her solo albums...This was thus at least an interesting idea for her to try-but of course anything she tried would probably have problems selling internationally..

ABBA guitarist Lasse Wellander plays guitar here and there on the album and Agnetha's daughter Linda Ulvaeus sings some of the backing vocals.

The title track of the album is song by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Like Agnetha's last couple of studio albums, this album was released on the Warner Music label. Although there was more than just a Scandinavian release of the album,lots of places like the USA did not see release of this album...The album was, intially at least, relatively successful..But sales cooled down quickly, partly, cos Agnetha did not do much to promote the album after the first few weeks....

TRACK LISTING WITH SONGWRITERS...

1. A Fool Am I
F. Carraresi; A. Testa; Peter Callander
2. The End of the World
Arthur Kent;Sylvia Dee
3. Fly Me to the Moon
Bart Howard
4. I Can't Reach Your Heart
Ted Murry and Benny D
avies
5. If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind
John Cameron
6. Love Me With All Your Heart
Carlo Rodriguez Rigual;Mario Rodriguez Rigual;Carlos Martinoli; EM. Vaughn
7. My Colouring Book
John Cander and Fred Ebb
8. Past, Present and Future
Arthur Butler, Jerry Leiber, George Francis Morton
9. Remember Me
Chris Andrews
10. Sealed With A Kiss
Gary Geld Peter Udell
11. Sometimes When I'm Dreaming
Michael Batt
12. What Now My Love
Gilbert Becaud Pierre Delanoe; Carl Sigman
13. When You Walk in the Room
Jackie de Shannon

 

 

 OTHER VIEWS -Bjorn Ulvaeus' review of MY COLORING BOOK

..`It`s OK - but it's not as exciting as the music of Abba".

editors note- that sounds like my opinion of the Mamma Mia musical.

To leave Agnetha and her cats click here...

 

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