Monday, 24 December 2018

ABBA - ABBA The Album (1977)

I was an impossible case....


Released December 1977

Released at the height of punk, that didn't matter a jot as this album saw ABBA at the peak of their poppy, commercial powers. Despite all the musical changes going on all around them, this obliviously sold mega-millions. Opting for a minimalist album title that reeked a bit of "we know we are untouchable" pretension they conquered all before them with this. Yes it was a poppy album, but not just Europop, there were rock influences, classical overtones and even a bit of progressive rock echoes in small places. This was now big production music as befitted the group's now huge stature. People expected big, and they got it.


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
7. Thank You For The Music
8. I Wonder (Departure)
9. I'm A Marionette                        

As with all ABBA albums, they contain the hits and the rest. The hits are the iconic, dramatic ballad The Name Of The Game (even as a punk I liked this at the time); the instantly recognisable a capella vocal introduced and singalong Take A Chance On Me and the twee but anthemic Thank You For The Music. All have gone down in history and dominate the album.

The "rest" includes the regal and melodic Eagle, which actually would have made a good single; the typically ABBA kitchen sink romantic break-up of One Man One Woman; Move On, which is blighted a bit by its introductory spoken vocal, but redeemed by its perfect harmonies and hooky refrain; Hole In Your Soul is a guitar-driven rocky number that they regularly played live. It sounds a bit like a Suzi Quatro or Rubettes glam single, to be honest and feels as if it dated from 1974 as opposed to 1977.

The final three tracks form a "mini-musical" concept beginning with Thank You For The Music and continuing with the grandiose, musical-style I Wonder (Departure) that sounded like a Barbra Streisand song. It contrasted considerably with the blatant pop of what had gone before. It featured some sumptuous classical-type piano in the middle too. The trilogy ends with a rumbling slightly funky bass intro to the quirky, dramatic, stagey I'm A Marionette, All very Berlin 1930s influenced and again at odds with the main part of the album.

In conclusion, this is a deceptively interesting album that in places goes beyond its pure pop perfection to offer some unusual material.


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