Wednesday, April 21, 2010

nothing takes the place of lycra

May 31 will see the latest in a long line of deluxe reissues from ABBA. "Voulez-Vous", their sixth studio album, is their glitterball moment despite hits like "Does Your Mother Know", "I Have A Dream" and "Chiquitita" dropped between slabs of zippy disco baubles like "Angeleyes", "If It Wasn't For The Nights" (which should have been a single) and the title track.

"Voulez-Vous" was the moment my obsession with ABBA shifted into overdrive. The previous two albums, "The Album" and "Arrival", locked me in as an FFL (fan for life). "Super Trouper" and "The Visitors" lifted them into legendary status at a time when the world wanted to throw them under a bus.

As a songwriter, I dropped ABBA as an influence years before it was chic to do so. I was always committed to, inspired by and in awe of their superior song craft. Time wags its index finger knowingly to those who didn't stick by the Swedish foursome in their heyday and cite them as major influences today.

Unfortunately, the deluxified edition of "Voulez-Vous" doesn't include any unreleased tracks. It has all be available before across multiple reissues and compilations. However, the DVD features several, long forgotten, previously televised gems seemingly unearthed from a time capsule buried deep in the Swedish wilderness. It's all about having a pristine copy of "ABBA In Switzerland" which I can view at my leisure anytime I want.

Here's a handy preview.

I had a serious thing for Benny. Just sayin'. Excuse me. I need a private moment.


  1. I was always of two minds on ABBA®. While their radio hits from '74-78 were brilliantly crafted pop, much of the other material on their albums I found to be immensely substandard hackwork, to put it bluntly. So I stuck to the 45s for that period. When they went disco on this album (by that time I was over disco) I gave up on ABBA®. It didn't hurt when they broke up. But kudos to them for resisting reformation offer$!

    In the early 90s I bought a UK boxed set of 3CDs on Pickwick thinking it would be a fine sampling of ABBA®. I was wrong. It was way too much. I had forgotten my early experiments with their albums, so I sold it to an Australian (what else?) on ebay! I was better off with a single disc best of, but those songs I do like are somewhat magnificent. "Waterloo" was a great tune, but by the time of "SOS" and their apex,"Knowing Me, You Knowing You," they were at an insane peak form! Is there a better, more adult breakup song than that one? And that arrangement - superb!! Heart wrenching stuff. Elvis Costello knows whereof he speaks when he gives major props to this song!

    Is there a better cold intro than on "Dancing Queen?" That piano portamento is like a bomb going off. Only Simple Minds managed to make a song with a more succinct cold intro (Glittering Prize's single chord). Speaking of "Does Your Mother Know," I always thought it was ABBA®'s own "answer song" to "Dancing Queen." And a brilliant one at that. One song puts you in the mind of a burgeoning teenaged girl who should know better and the other gives insight into the mind of a guy who does know better than to go there.

    I'd like to think that ABBA® reached some kind of post-modern, self-referential apotheosis when:

    a) Erasure recorded their "ABBA®-esque" EP performing ABBA® songs in their own style and…

    b) Australian ABBA®-tribute/spoof band Bjørn Again recorded their triple-whammy "Eraser-ish" EP, featuring their performance of Erasure songs as if in the style of ABBA®!!! And they did it damned well!!!

    My mind; she does cartwheels over that every time I play it!!! It's more post-modern then even recent William Shatner recordings!

    My wife has noted that many of the women she works with hate ABBA®, but their husbands love 'em. While my respect and admiration is tempered with disdain for a lot of their material, I have to cop to basically liking the group. In some cases, a lot. They were a big boost to the top 40 of the 70s. But what does my wife's observation say? Are there any female ABBA® fans?

    And no, your mom liking "Fernando" doesn't count!!!

  2. Firstly, how did you know my mom's favorite ABBA song is "Fernando"? Seriously, it is! Actually, I know quite a few women who are ABBA fans. Then I think about Kylie. She doesn't have a lot of female fans. There's something in that mix. We should rely on science to sort out the answer.

    In my opinion, every ABBA album from "Arrival" to "The Visitors" is nearly flawless. And there isn't a better single disc greatest hits collection on the planet than "ABBA Gold". So I almost agree with you.

    Sure, they've had some odd ones - "King Kong Song", "Dum Dum Diddle". Usually the slightly duff ones are the tracks which Bjorn takes the lead. Still, there is hardly a finer body of song craft than the ABBA oeuvre.

  3. Vinny, Vinny, Vinny!

    Everyone's mom's favorite ABBA® song is "Fernando!"

    Silly rabbit.

    And bonus REVO-Points® for using one of my favorite, albeit overused, words in oeuvre!

  4. @REVO -I set you up for that one! :)

    And I couldn't resist typing "ABBA oeuvre". The sound of it cracked me up.

  5. Seriously excited by this. For me Voulez Vous was the album where every single track deserved to be a single in the charts. Kisses of Fire remains one of my favourite Abba songs of all time, and it someone could perfectly nail that long note as the last chorus comes in on American Idol, the competition would be so much more exciting than it currently is.

  6. This reissue doesn't sound all that hot. Isn't a 12" collection long past due? I want some disco mixes! 8 minutes of The Visitors!!!!

  7. I like this recording as it bridged between the darker tones of "Super Trouper" & "The Visitors," but eyed the sophisticants they had become on "The Album." The only album to truly tie them fashionably, not in a cloying way to mainstream disco-pop. Very sexy and nocturnal recording in spots.-QH