ABBA-ABBA Released 1975 Available worldwide on CD
Just look at the back cover- those double exposed shoes, that sexy girl in the olive dress, the cane,
Frida's elegant diffidence , Björn's well acted expression of annoyance. Who said these people were totally devoid of
style? ABBA's supposed cheesy dress sense has been heavily overplayed.
According to Wikipedia this is sometimes referred to by fans as the "Limo album", I can't say that I have heard
anybody call it that, but what do I know?There does not appear to be consensus as to a proper nickname for this self-titled
album. How about calling it the champagne album or the album with the brown haired girl who stares at ABBA sullenly through
the limo window"
After the success of the "Waterloo" single Abba had a great success with singles between Mid 1974 and
mid 1975 but not in every market. It wasn't till the release of the "SOS" single (drawn from this album) that they proved
that they were not just a one hit wonder in the critical British market."Mamma Mia" and "I do, I do , I do ,I do" were along
with "SOS" among the big worldwide hits on this album. "So Long" , "Rock Me" and "Bang-A Boomerang" were also hits in various
places. Six of the songs from this album were hits somewhere (more hits than any other ABBA studio album). ABBA albums were
always chock full of possible hit singles, but sometimes the group did not want to risk releasing singles that might not hit
the top ten.
That ABBA was starting to be big in Scandinavia, Germany and Australia was not sufficient for ABBA
and Stig, they wanted to be big in the UK, North America and even unconventional markets like Eastern Europe and Latin America.
ABBA's main commerical goal was to be the to become the first superstar act .to emerge from a non-English speaking country to become major pop stars in the trend setting English-speaking markets.
ABBA manager's Stig Anderson's importance thus can not be underestimated-it was his vision,his planning
that drove ABBA's unprecedented and all-encompassing commercial breakthrough. Also, Stig's catchy but simple approach to titles
& lyrics would allow for ABBA to be easily understandable to the widest possible audience. Later acts would have ABBA
to thank for opening the world music markerts to acts from places other than the US and the British Isles. For some reason,Stig
Anderson played a heavier role in the lyric writing on this album... he helped with the writing of six lyrics,more than on
any other ABBA album...
This, ABBA's third album, despite the presence of three major worldwide hits was not as big of a seller
as the later albums in some markerts. The mixed commercial track record is one reason this album often tends to be less well
appreciated than the later ABBA albums. As is the case with much of ABBA's pre-1977 work, critics
found that the lyrics were not particularly good from a poetical perspective, although the lyrics often seem clever enough
as pop song.
Björn and Benny obviously grew as songwriters both lyrically and musically, and their later growth
made them, like some critics less enamored of their own early work. Still, there is freshness and sense of fun here that ABBA
had a harder time capturing as they got older and more mature . This particular album finds ABBA just as they were rising
to a level where they doing commercial pop music better than most of their competitors.
This is the album to get if you like ABBA's more uptempo numbers .This is the ABBA album with the highest
concentration of effective rock n roll numbers. While ABBA may have not been totally convincing as a rock act ,one should
make concessions for the fact that in 1975, rock and roll bands with female lead singers were not overly prevalent, so whatever
attempts ABBA made at rock and roll were certainly to be welcomed by people who like to hear woman sing rock numbers. In recent
years, Bjorn and Benny have expressed the feeling that the rock and roll direction followed on some songs by ABBA in this
period, was less suited to the group than the pop approach of many of their later records.
At least, five of the songs on the ABBA album had significant elements of rock and roll, "So Long","Intermezzo
No 1", " SOS" , "Rock Me", and "Hey Hey Helen". The other songs on the album certainly touch on rock as well. That this album
is rock and roll, does make this album more appealing to rock fans than ABBA's later excursions into disco, theatre numbers
and adult pop.
In Germany , this album was titled Mamma Mia in one edition.
One of the earliest European CD editions of this album had five added tracks drawn from the RING RING
and WATERLOO albums since those albums had yet to be issued onto CD internationally.
Musician credits sourced from original CD/album liner notes or from THE COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS
by Carl Magnus Palm.
1. Mamma Mia (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 3.32 Lead Vocals-Agnetha, Frida & Bjorn Recorded March
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus Guitar-Janne Schaffer Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn
Ulvaeus,, Bass-Mike Watson, Drums- Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers, Marimba-Benny Andersson, String arrangement-S.O.
(please note its not always clear where Benny is singing backing vocals,so I dont usually list him
as a backing vocalist - unless I am sure it is him.)
"Mamma Mia' would be ABBA's second #1 hit in Great Britain,
but oddly only a minor hit in the USA. It's a little bubble-gummy perhaps, but still very original sounding.This
song was used as the title track for B&B's ABBA musical, though ironically Stig Anderson may have
been responsible for the title. Michael Tretow is quoted in by C.M.Palm as viewing "Mamma
Mia" as being " the whole idea of ABBA in one track".
2. Hey, Hey Helen (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.16 Lead Vocals-Agnetha & Frida Recorded September 1974
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Guitar-Janne Schaffer ,Bjorn Ulvaeus, , Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-,Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
"Hey Hey Helen" is one of the great unsung early ABBA songs. But for some reason Björn and Benny themselves
never cared for it. Which is odd because the lyrics are better than the usual nonsense that pervaded many of their early singles.
Benny has said the he does not think that ABBA was effective as a rock group, and two interviews he has said that "HHH " was
something they should have left unrecorded. Bjorn thought the drum sound sounded very tame.
ABBA often failed as rock act because the lyrics were so awkward sounding. 1970's rock music always
took itself very seriously,and ABBA did not take there lyrics seriously.. But this song actually does have acceptable lyrics
and unlike some ABBA rock tracks come across fairly well as rock and roll. According to Ian Cole's ABBA World
site, the lyrical theme "woman of today" may have been inspired by Swedish TV show with the same name.
Mercifully, HHH has a darker lyric with feminist overtones that are thankfully not diluted since Björn
refrained from singing along. Also, somebody put away the key to the music hall piano so that Benny wouldn't make the song
too cheerful. Benny instead provides some solid clavinet fills. (The clavinet is a keyboard popularized by Stevie Wonder
3. Tropical Loveland (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 3:05 Lead Vocals-Frida Recorded February 1975
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus,Guitar,Bjorn Ulvaeus, Lasse Wellander, Bass-
Mike Watson, Drums- Roger Palm, Accordion, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
"Tropical Loveland' was b-side to "Fernando". It has stupid lyrics that were poorly pronounced by
Frida, but the song is nearly redeemed by some sublime but subtle backing vocals and organ work. It also has some accordion
on it, which while good tends to bring out the song goofier sensiblitlites.
Listen closely to this song on headphones.( ABBA harmonies from Day One were always incredibly inventive
and many of the harmonies are buried so deeply in the mix that you have to hunt them down with your ears!)
4. SOS (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 3.22 Lead Vocals-Agnetha Recorded August 1974
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Guitar-Janne Schaffer Bjorn Ulvaeus, Lasse Wellander,
Bass- Mike Watson, Drums-Ola Brunkert Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
SOS' melds a keyboard backed verse with a guitar driven chorus. Agnetha's angst-tormented lead vocal
is punctuated by some charming accented pronunciations of English words that tend to emphasize how European this record is.
The Who's Pete Townsend has said that he thinks this is great rock record. It is certainly one of ABBA's most original sounding
singles, and this is probably one of their five best recordings. The only problem i have with song is chorus is a little boring
5. Man In The Middle (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.00 Lead Vocals-Björn'
Recorded August 1974
Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Guitar-Janne Schaffer Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn
Ulvaeus, Lasse Wellander, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, Mike Watson, Drums-Ola Brunkert, Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers,
Clavinet-Benny Andersson, Tenor Sax-Ulf Andersson, Sax arrangement-Bjorn J:son Lindh
I may be alone in thinking that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Björn's "Man In The Middle"
. I enjoyed the horn work on it and the lyrics are not stupid. For some stupid reason I view the song as a unconscious dig
at the group manager ,Stig Anderson. (Stig was literally the man in the middle in Abba songwriting credits).
6. Bang-A-Boomerang (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 2.50 Agnetha & Frida Recorded January 1975
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Guitar-Janne Schaffer,Bjorn Ulvaeus, , Bass- Mike Watson, Drums- Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
"Bang-A-Boomerang" like "Tropical Loveland" are the kind of songs that have the kind of lyrics that seem
provoke disdain amongst ABBA's critics. Yet, "BAB " actually has a fairly clever title and was illustrated by one of the cheeriest
videos ABBA ever made. ( For once the ABBA smiles look sincere!).
7. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do; (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 3.15 Lead Vocals -Agnetha & Frida
Recorded January 1975
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Guitar-Janne Schaffer Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn Ulvaeus, Lasse
Wellander, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, Mike Watson, Drums-Ola Brunkert, Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
Alto Sax-Ulf Andersson
I doX5 " had a prominent placing in the weddings scenes of the Australian movie
"Muriel's Wedding" and "Mamma Mia". Still, "I do X5 " is probably one of the least loved of ABBA hits.That's
not to say that people hate it, merely, that it never shows up anybody's list of the best ABBA records. The
sax sound on this record is supposedly inspired by Billy Vaughan records, though other influences are also have been cited
.The song is also notable for the use of soprano saxophone, Early ABBA recordings had a lot of horn on them....
8. Rock Me Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.03 Lead Vocals-Björn Recorded
Vocals-,Bjorn Ulvaeus,Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson,Guitar Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn
Ulvaeus, Lasse Wellander, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, Drums Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
"Rock Me' is ,if very fun,if not totally convincing rocker, with a run-of -the mill-lyric. On "Rock
Me" Björn was let into the vocal booth,and Benny got to throw in the music hall piano. Admittedly, one has to give Björn a
lot of credit for the way he managed to stretch his voice into such a growl on "Rock Me ".For a long time ,I had assumed it
was Benny singing on "Rock Me " because the lead vocals are so unlike Björn's other lead vocals. (Also because, at
the time I had no idea what Benny's vocals were supposed to sound like) The box set lets us hear how our diva Agnetha would
sing this song-and frankly Bjorn sings it as good as the great diva.
9. Intermezzo no. 1; (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.48 Instrumental featuring Benny Andersson- Recorded October
Guitar- Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn Ulvaeus, Lasse Wellander, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, , Drums, Roger Palm, Keyboards&
Synthesizers-Benny Andersson, , String & Horn arrangement-Bjorn J:son Lindh
Like "SOS" , "Intermezzo No 1" , is a highly original classical/ rock fusion. " Intermezzo" was ABBA's
first instrumental record -and was most certainly not a filler track. and yes we are the world....
10. I've Been Waiting For You; (Andersson-Anderson-Ulvaeus) 3.39 Lead Vocal-Agnetha ----Recorded
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad,Bjorn Ulvaeus Guitar-Janne Schaffer ,Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn
Ulvaeus, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, Drums- Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
Agnetha got another prime vocal opportunity on "I've Been Waiting For You", just catch her hitting the
high notes on the word "ceiling". (I also find the guitar buried in the mix at the end interesting). This is rare early ABBA
song that has a lyrics that hold up well and Agnetha sings the words convincingly. This live version of this song found in
ABBA-The movie is also quite good.
11. So Long (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 3.06 Lead Vocals-Agnetha & Frida Recorded August 1974
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus , Guitar-Janne Schaffer Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn
Ulvaeus, Lasse Wellander, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, Mike Watson, Drums-Ola Brunkert, Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny
The album's closer -the glam rocker,"So Long' was not a very good song,but nor was it really so bad,
it was the first single from the album in a few territories. One of the signs of a great group is that they often have lesser
hits in reserve. The casual fan will say"Oh, I didn't know they did that. " Six of the songs from this album were hits somewhere
(more hits than any other ABBA studio album). ABBA albums were always chock full of possible hit singles.
BONUS TRACK ON CD VERSION
12. Crazy World (Andersson-Ulvaeus) Lead Vocal- Bjorn Recorded October 1974, Summer 1976
,Bjorn Ulvaeus,Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad,Benny Andersson, Guitar- Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn Ulvaeus,
Lasse Wellander, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, , Drums, Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
"Crazy World" is a Bjorn lead vocal with a stupid lyric but a stirring section on the "Baby why you did
you do it"section'. It was left in the can in 1974 but reworked so as to become a B-side in 1977.
13. Medley: Pick A Bale Of Cotton/On Top Of Old Smokey/Midnight Special ((Traditional arr. Andersson-Ulvaeus) Recorded May 1975, August 1978
Lead vocals Agnetha, Frida, Bjorn and Benny
Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson Guitar-Finn Sjoberg,Bjorn
Ulvaeus, Bass-Rutger Gunnarsson, Mike Watson, Drums-Roger Palm, Keyboards& Synthesizers-Benny Andersson,
Medley' was a medley of three folk songs in the Public domain that was recorded right after the ABBA
album was released for use on an German album.. The songs were chosen to reflect ABBA's roots although it's doubtful Agnetha
or Frida would ever have performed this songs before. "Medley" would also be dug up to become the B-side of "Summer Night
City"in 1978. The medley does not really work- "Pick and Bale of Cotton" and Midnight Special" are mixed in a bizarre
and inappropriate Stars on 45 pop /rock style and "On Top Of Old Smokey" is dreary ballad edited in between the two pop numbers.
Still ABBA's version of "Midnight Special" is certainly original and fun to listen.
OTHER TRACKS RECORDED
At least three other tracks were recorded for but not released on the original ABBA album.Three songs
:("Baby' (an early version of "Rock Me') with an Agnetha lead vocal ,"Here Comes Rubie Jamie'(-a surprisingly spontaneous
duet between Benny & Frida) and "Rikki Rock'n Roller' were finally released as part of "ABBA Undeleted ' on the Box Set.
ABBA-ABBA (Remastered version) 2001 CD and limited edition Digipak
Includes new liner notes by Carl Magnus Palm and two bonus tracks. This album clearly has
the two worst bonus tracks (artistically speaking) of the eight remastered studio albums. "Crazy World," and "Medley"
dont do much for ABBA's reputation.
Some of the prior CD editions of this album rather oddly had five added tracks drawn from the RING RING and WATERLOO albums,
but with this version that is no longer is the case.
1. Mamma Mia; 2. Hey, Hey Helen; 3. Tropical Loveland; 4. SOS; 5. Man In The Middle; 6. Bang-A-Boomerang; 7. I Do, I Do,
I Do, I Do, I Do; 8. Rock Me; 9. Intermezzo no. 1; 10. I've Been Waiting For You; 11. So Long;
extra tracks: 12. Crazy World; 13. Medley: Pick A Bale Of Cotton/On Top Of Old Smokey/Midnight Special (new bonus tracks)