ABBA-The Albums

1977/1978 ABBA-THE ALBUM
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ABBA-THE ALBUM 1977  Released in Sweden November 1977 Other territories Early 1978. Available worldwide on CD.

It is interesting to note that at the height of ABBA's worldwide popularity they ended up recording their first more "serious" album. THE ALBUM was released at the end of 1977 in Sweden and in early 1978 most other places.
ABBA-THE ALBUM was the album tied in with ABBA-THE MOVIE, ABBA's only theatrical movie release.
Many ,but not all of the songs on the album can be heard in some form in the movie.

THE ALBUM, has the richest and most colorful arrangements of all the ABBA albums. The songs vary considerably in subject, tempo, and instrumentation but none of the nine songs seem out of place. That said, some people do have trouble with the variety in the album-and find themselves tuning out at various points (usually the mini-musical or the spoken word part of "Move On")

Where, THE ALBUM fares less well in any comparision to the albums that bookend it (ARRIVAL& VOULEZ-VOUZ) is in the fun department. Only two or three songs here are liable to cheer you up. This album was also lacking somewhat in the singles department-only two of the songs were worldwide Top Ten hits-Not very impressive compared to the albums that bookend it.

On this album, ABBA seem to do things that even they don't seem to realize were counter to the stereotypical view some had of them.

ABBA-THE ALBUM was highly successful but it did not  build on ABBA's commericial success, and when this album failed to break ABBA into superstar status in the US market it became clear to many that America would never be conquered by ABBA.

 

ABBA, actually, even blew one big chance to break into the American market. The Bee Gees invited ABBA to record "If I Can't Have You" for the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER album, but ABBA declined since they never recorded songs by outside writers. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER turned out to be the biggest selling album of 1978 and "If I Cant Have You" as recorded by Yvonne Elliman went to #1 in the United States.

ABBA's momentum slowed in mid 1978. A backlash developed in Australia as people grew sick of hearing so much ABBA on the radio...ABBA cut down on promotional appearences during 1978.  The sessions for the follow-up to THE ALBUM proved troublesome. A non-album single was released during the year and a half between albums. That song ."Summer Night City". was a nod in the disco direction , Björn sings along with the girls on it, B&B and Micke Tretow had trouble getting a good mix of the song together, the mix that finally was released left out a elegant introduction.The more observant may notice the seeming repeated use of an obscenity in SNC's chorus towards the end of the song. "Summer Night City' would not be put on
a album till GREATEST HITS II came out. "Medley" which had recorded for a charity album in 1975 was used as the b-side of SNC.

Musician credits sourced from original CD/album liner notes or from THE COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS by Carl Magnus Palm.

 ABBA-THE ALBUM -SONG BY SONG

1. Eagle (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 5.51 Lead Vocals-Agnetha &FRida Recording begun June 1977

 

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Janne Schaffer, Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Percussion -Malando Gassama
Recorder-Lars Carlsson

"Eagle" is a daring opening song, it sounds like no previous ABBA record, at nearly six minutes it was ABBA's longest song up to this time. Agnetha & Frida sing above a majestic, if somewhat droning, Hendrix cum Morricone cum Spectre sound salad.
"Eagle" is not a song you could hum to, but
you could put the headphones on and fly along (at the end the Eagle literally flys from one speaker to the other and back).

2. Take A Chance On Me (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 4.05 Lead Vocals- Agnetha &FridaRecording begun June 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Backing Vocals-Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wallander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Roger Palm

"Take A Chance on Me " was the one song most in line with ABBA's primary mission of providing great pop singles to the world. "TACOM" is a textbook case on how to make a pop record. It's almost (but not quite) saved from sounding like a well oiled machine by Agnetha's bright singing and the very fresh sounding a Capella (voices only) introduction. Take A Chance " was the most successful single from this album.

3. One Man, One Woman (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 4.25 Lead vocals-Frida-Recording begun July 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Roger Palm
Percussion -Malando Gassama

Like many of ABBA's best lyrics -"One Man , One Woman' was another song
about relationships in trouble , but unlike most of the ABBA songs on this theme ,this song ends with the sentiment that "It's never too late for changing". You don't really pay as much attention as you might to the rich backing vocals because your listening to Frida's dynamic lead vocal performance.

4. The Name Of The Game (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 4.54 Lead Vocals-Agnetha& begun May 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Percussion -Malando Gassama

The "Name of the Game" is perhaps not a great song but it's a master work of arrangement.
You never know where they are going with this.There are elements of funk, at times rock, gospel, at times it's stately Europop ,and when the horns come in near the end you think of "Penny Lane". The best bit on the song again is once again the A Capella part. The Lasse Wellander guitar solo in middle of "Name...." has been badly butchered on some of the edited releases of this song.

5. Move On (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 4.42 Lead Vocals-Agnetha, Bjorn Recording begun August 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Spoken Prologue, Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Percussion -Malando Gassama

"Move On", puts some people off with Björn's spoken prologue , Some people also might not find Björn and Stig's searching lyrics convincing,either, but for ABBA lyrics they are pretty good. In "Move On" a powerful bass riff drives the song's stirring chorus. When A&F sing "Like a roller in the ocean"it sounds very much like a powerful wave. Listen for the "la la la's"and other background vocals and see how they are mixed at varying sound levels to help create a wall of sound.

6. Hole In Your Soul (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.41 Lead Vocals Agnetha & Frida &BennyRecording begun August 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Vocals, Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Percussion -Malando Gassama

"Hole in Your Soul" joins the distant influences of 1960's Girl Group music with Europop to create a quirky,fun tune.
The "paint your world and use all colors" bridge hearkens back to a similar section in "Tiger" .The low male voice chorus on "it's got to be rock roll to fill the hole in your soul" does little of value for the song. The opening riffs of "HIYS" were used in the opening credits to ABBA-The movie.

7."The Girl With The Golden Hair" - 3 scenes from a mini-musical (Thank You For The Music,I Wonder, I'm A Marionette)

A novel three song "mini-musical" closes THE ALBUM. "The Girl with The Golden Hair" was tried out live on the 1977 tour. When performed live the mini-musical also included a narrator(Francis Matthews), incidental music, blonde wigs for the girls, and a fourth song appearing at the end called "Get on the Carousel". "Get on the Carousel" remained unreleased (indeed it was never finished in the studio) but it was no great loss not having it on THE ALBUM. B&B have shown little willingness to bring "Get On the Carousel" out of the vaults.

(Another song , that was not part of the mini-musical, the autobiographical "I Am An A " was also performed live in 1977 but it was obviously far too sardonically witty for B&B to release.)

A lot of the mini -musical can be seen in ABBA-THE MOVIE. On the album,the songs are arranged in a more formal orchestral manner instead of the theatrical approach favored in the live performances.

a. Thank You For The Music (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.48 Lead Vocal-Agnetha Recording begun July 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar, mandolin & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Backing Vocals-Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar, Mandolin -Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Roger Palm
Percussion -Malando Gassama

"Thank You For the Music" has somehow become the ABBA signature song even though it was never much of a hit single. It probably doesn't deserve such stature, but it sums up the spirit of ABBA better than something like "Dancing Queen". Benny, in particular, seems to have an irrational love for this song. That said,this recording does has a great keyboard riff at 1:53 into the song, as well as another great Aggie vocal performance. When the box set came out -a second earlier version of the song was released which features Agnetha singing an impossibly bright Doris Day-style version of the song.

b. I Wonder (Departure) (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 4.33 Lead Vocal-FridaRecording begun August 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals, Frida Lyngstad,Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Percussion -Malando Gassama
Recorder-Lars Carlsson
FRench horn-Bengt Sundberg
Also Oboe, Cellos, Violas, Violin

"I Wonder' was one of ABBA's more serious (some might say more boring) numbers.The arrangement for "I Wonder" is surprisingly orchestral (listen for what sounds like a harp!). "I Wonder" along with "Move On" and "Name of the Game" were the last lyrics Stig Anderson worked on for official release. All of the lyrics for ABBA's subsequent songs were written by Björn.

A fairly good live version of "I Wonder" was released of this on the b-side of "The Name of The Game" the harmonies at the very end of the live version of "I Wonder" are among the best five seconds in ABBA's live repertoire. But,For some reason, Michael Tretow hates the live recording of "I Wonder".

c.. I'm A Marionette (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.54 Lead Vocal-Agnetha & Frida Recording begun July 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Percussion -Malando Gassama

"I'm a Marionette' has a theme that suggests there is something wrong with seeking music stardom, which is kind of ironic considering that conquering the world often seemed to be the only thing that ABBA (well Bjorn ) cared about.The opening bass riff and the two guitar solos add considerably to "Marionette's" impact. The ending track of THE ALBUM borders on being chilling.

extra track: 10. Thank You For The Music (Doris Day mix) (new bonus track) Recorded June 1977

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar, & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Backing Vocals-Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Guitar-Janne Schaffer
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert

This early alternate version of Thank You For The Music was made available first on the box set in 1994 and then also placed as a bonus track on the 2001 ABBA remaster. It would of course, been far more interesting to be able to hear "I am An A " or "Get On the Carousoul" .

Other tracks recorded

Seemingly no other finished released recordings emerged from The Album sessions. In addition to the live numbers mentioned earlier (Get On the Carousoul and I am An A ),there were other two unfinished tracks that were were sliced up for inclusion in the "Abba Undeleted" medley on ABBA's box set .The tracks included were a early instrumental working version of "Take A chance on Me " and instrumental called "Scaramouche". In addition a live version of "I wonder" was released as B-side. Other live tracks were also released from 1977 tour.

 

ABBA-THE ALBUM 2001 (Remastered) CD and limited edition Digipak

A new version of THE ALBUM came out on CD in Mid 2001. Previous remasterings and CD issues had no bonus tracks and little in the way of liner notes.

Includes new liner notes by Carl Magnus Palm and for the "first time one, yes, count it one bonus track-the utterly superflous Doris Day style version of "Thank You For The Music".. But No sign yet of "Get on the Carouse"l or "I am an A". Another relevant B-side left off was the live version of "I wonder" that was originally found on the b-side to "The Name of the Game"

1. Eagle; 2. Take A Chance On Me; 3. One Man, One Woman; 4. The Name Of The Game; 5. Move On; 6. Hole In Your Soul; "The Girl With The Golden Hair" - 3 scenes from a mini-musical - 7. Thank You For The Music; 8. I Wonder (Departure); 9. I'm A Marionette

extra track: 10. Thank You For The Music (Doris Day mix) (new bonus track)

 OTHER VIEWS : EXCERPTS FROM PUBLISHED REVIEWS

 "Listen to their recent hit, "Take A Chance" Hear the lead vocal in unison, the backing vocals , in counterpoint. the lush female voice, the voices getting closer, then moving away, the ten rythems ( at least ) locking onto one sexy pulse. The echo chambers , tape delay, digital delay.The violins, harpsicords, synthesizer strings, real strings,. and if you listen really close-one or two rythem guitars, electric guitar, bass and drums. Who knows what else is in the forest of sounds above which the vocals float. It's beautiful/ Exquisite but cheap sentiment .. But as inspired ABBA's productions are , there are genuinely brilliant talents among the new wave who have something to say about their lives that goes better with electric guitar than an ABBA lyric. Richard Robinson writing in HIT PARADER

THE ALBUM Details  SIDE A  SIDE B  OTHER SONGS RECORDED

 

* Swedish release December 1977 #1

* Uk release February 1978 # 1

* US release February 1978 # 14

* Recorded at Marcus and Metronome studios, Stockholm

* Recorded May 77 - Nov 77

* Written & Produced by Andersson-Ulvaeus with help on lyrics by Stig Anderson on

the songs "The Name of the Game", "Move On" and "I Wonder"

 

 * Eagle

 

* Take A Chance On Me

 

* One Man, One Woman

 

* Name of The Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 * Move On

 

* Hole In Your Soul

 

* -Mini-Musical The Girl With Golden Hair-

 

* a.Thank You For The Music

 

* b. I Wonder ( Departure)

 

* c.I'm A Marionette

 

 

 

 

* Scaramouche

 

* Take A Chance On Me (early vers.)

 

* Thank You For The Music (Doris Day vers.)

 

* I Wonder (live b-side to Name Of The Game)

 

* I am an A (live unreleased song)

 

* Get On the Carousel (live unreleased)

 

 

 ABBA-THE MOVIE released 1977 Swedish /Australian film. Released on home video at various points, Made available on September DVD 2005
 The key ABBA video artifact. It was finally  issued on DVD  in 2005  by Universal. The movie features ABBA at their live peak as well as a thin story featuring an actor playing an Australian Dj. Much of the movie was filmed during their the legendary Australian leg of their 1977 tour. ABBA -THE MOVIE premiered in Sydney, Australia on December 1977 .The movie was directed by Lasse Hallestrom later known for feature films such "My life as A dog" and "The Cider House Rules". No soundtrack album was released -THE ALBUM was supposed to also function as a Soundtrack album but it is really more of a companion piece.

---songs heard in ABBA -THE MOVIE---
Fernando (released. on ABBA LIVE)
Money Money Money (ABBA LIVE)
Flexi-mix-Fernando, Rock Me,Why Did ,,Money X3,Waterloo (released. on a Australian flexi disc)
I wonder (released on B side, BOX SET
)
SOS
He Is Your brother
Intermezzo No 1
Mamma Mia
Swedish Polka (never released officially)
Dancing Queen
When I kissed The teacher
A version of Girl With the Golden Hair including..four songs
Thank You For The Music (ABBA LIVE)
I wonder (differant. version.)
I'm A Marionette
Get On the Carousel (never released officially)
Please Change Your Mind (NOT LIVE but opens the movie-actually a recording by Nashville Train) 
I've Been Waiting For you
So Long
Tiger
Waterloo
Rock Me ,
Why Did it Have To be me,Eagle (studio version,)Ring ring 

SINGLES drawn from

ABBA-THE ALBUM

The Name Of The Game/I Wonder live
Take A Chance/I'm A Marionette
Eagle/Thank You For The Music

 

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