Abba were the first band I can remember. When I was three or four, ‘Arrival’ had come out and my parents bought it for me and would sit with me patiently, listening to the whole LP over and over again. I can still remember identifying the songs by their tones and feels, not having a clue what they were on about. Which was definitely a blessing in the case of ‘Dum Dum Diddle’.
The cover was (and is) gorgeous and became synonymous with the music for me. Four goodlooking people in white boiler suits standing around a still helicopter, in a mysterious dusk. Sure! Why not? The beautiful title track, all yearning chorale and folkish melody entranced and soothed me, after the terrifying screaming finale to the preceding ‘I Am The Tiger’.
The following year I was gifted ‘Abba The Album’, by a friendly nurse who worked at my dad’s surgery. It had to be explained that this was Abba – I still remember that, weirdly clearly, I initially didn’t understand that this was the same group of people as those standing around the helicopter. But again, here was a mysterious cover with lots to look at, colourful now, with moody, mysterious portraits of the band each in their own colour and surrounded by all manner of random things, a man with a case, running, a taxi and birds in the sky. Even now, if you just pick up the record and look at the sleeve without knowing of the associated film and related storyline, it would be extremely confusing.
But then you hear ‘Eagle’, ‘The Name Of The Game’ ‘Move On’ ‘I’m A Marionette’ and the rest and its a revelation. ‘Eagle’ in particular, is evocative and agreeably aerial. I revisited it recently. It’s still amazing, in a soft rock late 70s LA kind of way (of course, that was the effect they were after)
OK, so I could go on through my childhood and link each Abba release , with a stage in my life. Each new Abba album was brought home by my dad, making it all the more sweet in my memory (apart from Voulez Vous, for some reason, my dad didn’t bother with that one, though I did get the single of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! the day we also bought a Pink Panther comic from a Blue Peter Bring’n’Buy sale for Cambodia).
It ended with The Visitors in 1983, suddenly being plunged into a Bergman film, had I known who and what Bergman was, of course. Watching them excitedly on Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show at that time, I wish I could sagely recall the grimly apparent state of affairs at Chez Abba but of course I couldn’t, I was nine. I was a member of the Abba fan club (in Swindon, a name I still can’t see without thinking of poring over the cover of Abba LPs). I even ordered the folksy ‘Lycka’ album from 1970 or so, by Benny and Bjorn, which my dad and I would listen to in the mornings before going to school, despite the fact it was all in Swedish. They were my band until around 1983, when I discovered Paul McCartney and all that followed, I was obsessed. Still love ’em dearly.
I think some of the posters who dismissed them in the DomCum thread might be interested in checking out a few tunes beyond the over familiar ones (altho they are of course, gold too). So, if you are interested in some old time Abba fun, in no particular order, here’s my top 10 Abba bangers. What are yours?
The Day Before You Came
Hey Hey Helen
My Love, My Life
The Name Of The Game
Lay All Your Love On Me
The Winner Takes It All