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ABBA at 50

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As a child of the 70's, I was very aware of ABBA right from the start of their popularity in the United States; my older brother had a 45 of "Waterloo". In addition to revisiting the ABBA songs I also looked up and listened to many songs by artists I was barely or even unfamiliar with (mostly from their very early days before even becoming ABBA), and that was a lot of fun. I remember 30 years ago when people said to me, when I was working on my first book, ‘You better hurry up, before the ABBA revival dies down.

Meanwhile, I tell him I can’t believe it’s five years since we last spoke, marking the publication of ABBA: The Complete Recording Sessions. In 2021, after a forty-year hiatus, the band released a new album Voyage, and announced an accompanying concert featuring their digital avatars, dubbed "ABBAtars. What I really took away from this book was a greater appreciation for the work that went into the songs, the musicianship and engineering as well as the songwriting.The art and the skill is in making such precision seem effortless, and ABBA accomplished that very well. It’s very detailed stories about how the album sleeves were put together, it’s about chart success, it’s about how the record company people in the UK and the US primarily promoted or tried to promote their music. In 2021, after a forty-year hiatus, the band released a new album Voyage, and announced an accompanying concert featuring their digital avatars, dubbed “ABBAtars. It’s a band that needs no introduction, but I’ll offer one anyway, ABBA emerging victorious from the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’, quickly catapulted to fame, capturing hearts across the world over the next few years with their melodic, ever-so-catchy pop songs.

And it turned out to be the first of eight singles that appeared on debut LP, Ring Ring, which received a limited release in late March 1973. The other thing is that, because everybody else is so super-excited about it, and, ‘Ooh, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. The ABBA machine continues to function, and the industry around the band clearly continues to flourish. Depicting the group as they appeared in 1977 in a motion-capture hologram show held in the ABBA Arena, a purpose-built venue within East London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, their 22-song set each night included two singles from their comeback LP and plenty of old hits. Yeah, I have, I mean it’s mostly just a matter of typing it out and finding the right tone for that book.I received this is book from net galley and the publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review. This makes a great coffee table book and I can picture it generating some interesting conversations. I considered starting this feature/interview with the line, ‘Ring, ring, I stare at the phone on the wall’ as a build-up to tracking down Carl Magnus Palm, seen as the world’s leading historian for a certain legendary pop quartet from his home nation. After winning 1974's Eurovision Song Contest with their song "Waterloo," ABBA catapulted to fame, capturing hearts across the globe with their melodic and ever-so-catchy pop songs. Then ‘Waterloo’ was a big hit and a remix of ‘Ring Ring’ was released in the UK, and that was the one that went to No.

But then the ABBA Arena and ABBAtars show came along, and all of a sudden they had a platform for it … or an outlet, I should say. Regarding Voyage, the sixth ABBA studio album to top the UK charts and their 10 th chart-topping LP in this country altogether, last time we spoke you told me you had access to exclusive material that few had before, with official permission, when writing ABBA: The Complete Recording Sessions.But I don’t think I’ve properly encountered a telephone attached that way since the days my Mum would take herself off to the hall, perching at the bottom of the stairs while chatting to friends and family. This managed to be both a trip down memory lane as well as an introduction to music I missed the first time around.

But the 1990s ushered in a new wave of ABBA appreciation, and their music found favour again in modern popular culture. As a 50+ year ABBA fan, while I enjoyed the written portion as a career compilation recap, there was nothing new in the content to set it apart from other biographies written by individuals other than the subjects themselves.There’s a lot about that, and it’s about chart positions, and I’ve gone through hundreds of album and single reviews from – primarily – the American and British music press, putting in extracts from that as well. The biggest reason for the ABBA fan to read this book, however, are the pictures; the wonderful pictures public and private. From the group’s outlandish outfits to the toll commercial success took on the private lives of the two married couples, this book is a must for all ABBA fans.

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