Around 1980, it had become a disgrace to listen to them, so I
stopped doing it. Later, I rediscovered them "in the closet", but I
kept having the feeling that it was some sort of excentric vice that
I should be ashamed of. I had no idea that so many people felt
the same as I did.
I'm proud that their value has been so widely recognized in the
1990's, so I don't have to be embarassed anymore about liking
them. I'm proud also because it proves to me that, from the
beginning, my ear was right. I have listened to many many other
artists since then, in all possible styles, but Abba remains a
reference to me, just like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and
Elvis. Their sound is just as unmistakeable, and their production
has been just about as creative and diverse.
More than other musicians, Abba have been a victim of their
image, maybe because of their gaggy outfits. They were and are
still labeled as kitsch by many people, including their own fans.
Many of those who declare hating them don't really know their
music, and don't bother to.
There were quite a few bands and artists of the 70's that really
were dud, but the difference is that those never enjoyed this sort
of late recognition. Anyone remembers the Rubettes or the
Brotherhood of Man for instance? They were successful though
I don't agree either that Abba's music is plastic and devoid of
emotions. That applies maybe to bands like the Bee Gees or
Boney M., which are OK in their own style, but which I think do
lack depth. On the opposite, an album like "the Visitors" is full of
emotion and refinement. Emotion is not just about being
I can very well understand that, for a number of reasons, some
people don't like their sound. It probably goes for most artists.;
everyone doesn't like the Rolling Stones either, but no doubt that
they are classics. But , whether one likes them or not, what I
would like to underline is Abba's artistical value. They are by no
means just a good old kitschy attraction. They are indeed two
outstanding composers, and two outstanding voices.
― francois chevallier, Wednesday, 5 September 2001 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
― Chris, Friday, 18 January 2002 01:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
― dleone, Friday, 18 January 2002 01:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
And yes, they do sound better when you're in an office.
― fernando, Friday, 21 June 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― dleone, Friday, 21 June 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
Anyway...never heard any of the alb. and the singles only on the
radio. Didn't like them when I was younger but 'Murriel's Wedding' is
a wonderful movie and I love how this girl finds so much comfort in
this music. I do tend to join in, singing along to those songs when
played in the movie (as my brother pointed it out to me!).
The singles are wonderful though I never got round to getting a
collection as it really isn't needed.
― Julio Desouza, Friday, 21 June 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
I love it.
I don't love it. Dud.
― Roger Fascist, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Sterling Clover, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Clarke B., Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― dleone, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
As if that 'Can you hear the drums Fernando?' thing and
the 'I Have A Dream' thing and the 'I Believe In Angels' dreck were
not enough, someone further up the thread has reminded me
of 'Thankyou For The Music' - AAAaaaarrrghgh.
I had to hear their
drivel all through my teens, and working as a barman in a handbag-
dancer nightclub during the last days of disco meant hearing all
those 'classic' singles over and over again...But even if I'd
never heard them before in my life, I would find them absolutely
bloody dire - it's not just 'connections' stuff.The songs are
just so..... so..... ersatz. They sound like things
written for theatrical musicals about war, or like they've been
commissioned for coachloads of pensioners to sing along to. I don't
think I've ever heard a single note in any of their melodies that
sounded like it couldn't have been statistically predicted. Their
production/sound is so chintzy and schmaltzy and faux-classy, it's
like being beaten to fucking death with a fool's-gold-plated wedding
Kate, you are not alone - it just generally feels like
it because they also seem to infect taste like some kind of
lowest-common-denominator cultural virus : even Noise/Industrial
music fans I know have Abba collections.
And I do think that all
that rusty irony shit can't just be discounted either.
RF - now that was a seriously enjoyable post...
― Ray M, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― alex in mainhattan, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Roger Fascist, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
The melodies - Money Money Money does sound like a show tune
(intentionally, I would guess), but I don't see what you mean about
the predictability of the melodies. There are some incredible twists
and turns - I'd say that as writers and arrangers Benny and Bjorn are
up there with the best ever.
Now Alex. What about this : **In my first dancing lesson we danced
Well you'd have looked a proper charlie dancing to After The Bloody
Goldrush, wouldn't you? Or Nick Drake? What's wrong with Boney M -
'Daddy Cool' has a fucking enormous bass-line - great record to
dance to. Also Ma Baker. I used to dance to Boney M, Abba, Heatwave,
The Supremes, The Specials, The Jam, The Sex Pistols and The Bee Gees
within the same hour in 1978. And I still do given half the chance.
This is turning into a rant now. I'm angry. Please don't take it
personally Alex - I would buy you a dunkelsbier any day and even
dance with you - but your musical world is nonsense. Abba are crap
because of overexposure! In one or two years ALL MUSIC WAS LIKE IT!!
WHAT! Soul music is crap because of falsetto vocals! Oh no!
Roger - you joyless, clueless fuckwit. I bet you're the po-faced,
sneering, slightly smelly person in the corner with the Jim Morrison
t-shirt. Aren't you?
― Dr. C, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
And as for the Jim Morisson T-shirt, I prefer a Brownshirt with
I'm not a musician or musicologist so I can't comment on the
predictability of melodies thing - except to say that if that was the
case then why haven't there been more groups like ABBA?
Predictability implies that making ABBA records must be easy but the
list of other bands who've enjoyed anything remotely approaching
their level of success with a similar sound is very small. Part of
that was the fact that they appeared and flourished at a time when
the singles charts were possibly less concerned with 'cool' than any
other, so the show-tunes influence (for example) and the Swedishness
didn't ring any cultural alarm bells.
I think ABBA's lyrics show flashes of greatness all the way through
and from about '77-'78 onward are consistently marvellous.
I'm a bit surprised at myself for how much I love them and how my
love for them continues to grow - they still seem to me the most
perfect group, despite inconsistencies of output.
― Tom, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― RickyT, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
I mean I say this as someone who likes a silly dance song or ten but,
I don't know I'll never like Abba. Also I probably have subconscious
prejudices about the 12 cd people who like them being fantastically
happy and going to see Bjorn Again 3 times a year and living wonderful
― Ronan, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
Great stuff while the initial buzz was still there but occasional
radio/disco listening is as much ABBA as I need. So not quite
classic because like the bunny in the Duracell ad they've run out of
power while the best of Chic, EWF, Motown etc still motors on.
― ArfArf, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
Yay! You know
you've finally arrived on ILM when someone says you're talking
bullshit!What's that 'for the most part' mean, though, eh Dr C ?
And the answer to your question is 'No' - because:(1) Indie
feedback scenarios do nothing for me.(2) Don't worry, I too lost
such childish 'rockist' (tm ILM) notions as 'more real' >20 years
ago - it's just that I've never felt convinced that it was for the
better. I acknowledge it's a lot more complicated than 'real'
vs. 'fake', but you have to decide whether you're willing to lose the
dimensions of dialogue that the belittling of such ideas, however
crassly expressed, leads to. Aren't there areas of aesthetics which
allow for the validity of these criteria? Or do you think that pop
music should by definition be exempt?(3) I wasn't referring to
the idea of Abba as 'fake' vs. Some Indie Noise as 'real' - I was
trying to get across (perhaps badly) that they and their sound and
their songs have to me a kind of representational efficiency <=>
ideas/emotions/themes which is the audio equivalent of a fake tan.
I'm not saying that I think all music 'should' have these
affective/cognitive functions either, nor even that music which is
popular and melodic and shiny necessarily has only 'ersatz' qualities
(I find the Pet Shop Boys 'Rent' for example, to be quite a lucid
musical/lyrical encapsulation of a complex set of feelings as well as
a lovely wee tune with a sophisticated depth of production) - but I
am saying that the idea of finding 'emotion' in Abba's songs
(by which we don't usually just mean -'hey, this sounds like fun!')
makes me think 'WTF?', in much the same way as imagining those for
whom 'Lady In Red' is a rilly good love song...As
for 'laughable' - yes such an attitude may well be so by our
sophisticated standards. Or maybe it wouldn't be so much a laugh, as
I used to dance to Boney M, Abba, Heatwave, The
Supremes, The Specials, The Jam, The Sex Pistols and The Bee Gees
within the same hour in 1978. And I still do given half the
Bet you get a bit more out of breath now though
hahaAnd just where the hell were you going in 1978 that
played all this? I was stuck with either Saturday Night
CattleMarket 'Discos', or Saturday Night Fuckwit 'Punk/New Wave
Discos'..... but then I didn't want to dance to either...
your final point, I would refer you to the post by Andrew L:I
do hate the assumption that if you don't like ABBA (or their cohorts
in evil, the Beatles) you're somehow anti-pop, anti-dance, anti-fun,
whatever. You really don't have to be a musical elitist/purist to
find ABBA cloying and annoying.
(Office Card: No - but it
Tom - I can't back that melody thing up with any musicological
analysis myself, cos I don't speak tadpole. It's just that I've never
heard any sequence by them which sounded 'unexpected', there's never
any sense of suspension/resolution in them - its just like one damn
note after another...I think you have a good point about 'why not
more Abba's if they were that predictable', I need to think about
that a bit more, but maybe:Well maybe there have been lots
more 'Abbas' - ref. Kate earlier.Time and place, like you
said.The issue of being 'the original' group of that type.The
stuff mentioned by dleone in his post.
I think this thread is
great - the degree of polarisation it produced dug out all the
criteria which people use to evaluate music, many of which are
themselves the subject of dispute as to applicability - eg craft &
skill, art vs. industry, functionalism, personal/social context, who
else likes it, etc.I think that all kinds of things
are relevant because they are made so by the surrounding
culture - awkward, but everything counts. That's why its all so
fucking personal and emotive and difficult and interesting.
― Ray M, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
To discos, nightclubs and people's houses.
**I think this thread is great - the degree of polarisation it
produced dug out all the criteria which people use to evaluate music**
**eg craft & skill, art vs. industry, functionalism, personal/social
context, who else likes it, etc**
Do you know what? I don't know why I love Abba. I don't know why I
love ABC, The Human League, Joy Division, The Kinks, Chic....
I know *what it is that they do* that I like, but I don't know why I
like what they do, at least in a way that I can sensibly analyse and
The polarisation around ABBA IS astounding, though. Ronan thinks it's
too bubblegum, I think they're rather bleak. At least the later stuff
Alex - you didn't make me angry. Sorry if you thought that.
Bleak Bubblegum -- chew it and feel your spirit wither. (A cousin to
Chunks of Sadness, Robert Smith's favorite chocky.)
There's a definite bit of nostalgia for loving Abba on my part in
that, born in '71 and all, theirs was some of the first pop music I
heard and recognized as such on the radio. "Dancing Queen" and
"Voulez-Vouz" and all give me a basic rush and a fix, much like
snoozerific hash such as "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" also does --
but the latter just sounds like snoozerific hash, but ABBA still
sounds perfectly sparkling and wonderful.
― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Dave M., Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
― dleone, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (10 years ago) Permalink
I think it's odd ABBA haven't got a younger audience among people who
are into music, but on the other hand I think the number of those
people who go back and investigate older pop music is generally quite
low (the people talking on the Four Tops threads have been older than
the ILM average I'd guess).
― Tico Tico (Tico Tico), Wednesday, 18 June 2003 13:07 (9 years ago) Permalink
The delights of ABBA are many..... from the perfect pop of hits like 'S.O.S', 'Knowing me Knowing You' and 'Take a chance on me' to the beautifully written, darker moments like 'The day before you came' (one of the greatest songs ever written), 'The Winner takes it all' (ditto) and 'The Visitors'.
It's a shame they're remembered more for their appalling campy dress sense than their incredible music talents - Andersson/Ulvaeus are easily up there with Lennon and McCartney for their staggering songwriting talents - moreso, in fact, in my humble opinion.
To even question Classic/Dud with ABBA is terrible. ABBA changed the face of music, and their legacy lives on.
― russ t, Wednesday, 18 June 2003 13:51 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Chris Clark (Chris Clark), Wednesday, 18 June 2003 14:33 (9 years ago) Permalink
― russ t, Wednesday, 18 June 2003 15:16 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Sean (Sean), Monday, 15 December 2003 05:08 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Tico Tico (Tico Tico), Monday, 15 December 2003 08:51 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Sean (Sean), Monday, 15 December 2003 08:55 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Monday, 15 December 2003 09:15 (9 years ago) Permalink
(They were always princesses to me)
― pete s, Monday, 15 December 2003 10:05 (9 years ago) Permalink
Just bought The Visitors for $5, absent the bonus tracks sadly, but remastered. Investigating their album tracks might be worthy of an ILM thread, actually...
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 16 July 2004 16:47 (8 years ago) Permalink
― amateur!st (amateurist), Friday, 16 July 2004 16:49 (8 years ago) Permalink
― theodore fogelsanger, Friday, 16 July 2004 19:47 (8 years ago) Permalink
― dleone (dleone), Friday, 16 July 2004 19:57 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Maneating Leopards of India (Jody Beth Rosen), Sunday, 1 August 2004 15:19 (8 years ago) Permalink
― aaronk (AaronK), Monday, 2 August 2004 12:33 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Josh Love (screamapillar), Monday, 2 August 2004 12:37 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Monday, 2 August 2004 12:39 (8 years ago) Permalink
yeah Abba The Movie is amazing innit. shame that 'Get On The Carousel' from the film was never put on wax.
― piscesx, Monday, 5 September 2011 18:48 (1 year ago) Permalink
Narrator dude on the live version is great: "She feels like... A MARIONETTE!!!"
― three word displayname (snoball), Monday, 5 September 2011 18:55 (1 year ago) Permalink
"I've Been Waiting For You" is so underrated as well - gorgeous ballad.
― Turrican, Monday, 5 September 2011 21:58 (1 year ago) Permalink
Where on earth has 'Summer Night City' been all my life? Such a tune.
― Chewshabadoo, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 16:44 (1 year ago) Permalink
I've never really been too keen on that one. Apparently even ABBA themselves considered it to be a bit of a weak song. 'I'm A Marionette' is still kicking my ass.
― The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 16:54 (1 year ago) Permalink
Summer Night City was inspired by The Bee Gees too according to the liner notes on the re-issue of the Voulez Vous album. "It never turned out as good as it could have been, there's something missing" says Bjorn and they deliberately left it off the album in the end. i like it. still baffles me why If It Wasn't For The Nights wasn't a single off that album.
― piscesx, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 17:16 (1 year ago) Permalink
Well, to me it's more of a 'track' than a song, perfect dancefloor/mixing material, with a really driving atmosphere, therefore to me it's their most disco.
― Chewshabadoo, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 17:26 (1 year ago) Permalink
Great song, Bjorn's wrong. #5 in the British charts, not exactly obscure either!
― Charles Kennedy Jumped Up, He Called 'Oh No'. (Tom D.), Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:44 (1 year ago) Permalink
"WALKING in the moonlight"
― Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Thursday, 10 May 2012 12:44 (1 year ago) Permalink
Then Play Long finally reaches Abba: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/abba-greatest-hits.html
― Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Sunday, 13 May 2012 00:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
Sunday morning reminder.
― Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Sunday, 13 May 2012 08:00 (1 year ago) Permalink
The ABBA Session Band: http://felpin80.tripod.com/ata/id41.html
― My Elusive Memes (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 July 2012 14:38 (10 months ago) Permalink
The soundtrack of the movie, except it's more of a soundtrack of their own minds: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/abba-album.html.
― Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Monday, 24 September 2012 11:13 (7 months ago) Permalink