― 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
― Maneating Leopards of India (Jody Beth Rosen), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 08:21 (8 years ago) Permalink
Anyway!!!! I used to be like that, especially in the late 70s/early 80s when you couldn't switch on a radio or TV without hearing their latest number 1!!!! But even then, I liked the odd tune like "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Name of the Game", "Eagle", "Voulez Vous", "Gimme Gimme Gimme" etc... And then some time in the late 80s Channel 4 showed "Abba- The Movie" in some graveyard slot, and I thought "Well, they did one or two good tunes, so I might as well give it a watch!!!!"... And I thorougly enjoyed myself!!!!! A much better concert movie than that pisspoor Led Zep "Song Remains the Same" thingie!!!! Bit ironic considering tha Zep at the time were the rock equivalent of Abba in terms of massive popularity and massive critical derision!!!!
Continuing the Zep connection, Abba even have an equivalent of "Hammer of the Gods" in the ace "Name of the Game", which is still one of my fave pop books!!!! (And it's co-written by Andrew Loog Oldham, for Cliff's sake!!!!!)
― Old Fart!!! (oldfart_sd), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 15:40 (8 years ago) Permalink
great column today, Tom
― Dominique, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 14:24 (5 years ago) Permalink
Yes, great article.
― baaderonixx, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:08 (5 years ago) Permalink
hmmm i'm going to suggest classic, because the girls could sing and when i feel in a certain frame of mind i'll put on the records and enjoy them.
faves: knowing me knowing you, gimme gimme gimme, fernando
― Charlie Howard, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:17 (5 years ago) Permalink
"The Day Before You Came" was one of their last flops, not one of their first ones; between "Waterloo" and "S.O.S." none of their singles hit big in Britain at all.
― Marcello Carlin, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:21 (5 years ago) Permalink
Good point Marcello.
Thanks Dominique and Baaderonix!
― Groke, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:27 (5 years ago) Permalink
'Dancing Queen' always struck me as one of the saddest hit singles ever. Partly because, yes, the "time of her life" is now, is gone. But also the knowledge that 30 years later, dancing queen is working at the post office in some provincial town listening nostalgically to 'Dancing Queen'.
― baaderonixx, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:31 (5 years ago) Permalink
As far as the lover/murderer equation goes in "TDFYC," the line "I never even noticed I was blue" probably tilts it in the "lover" direction, but of course lover and murderer could be the same person and the murder not necessarily physical - i.e. he came but now he's gone.
― Marcello Carlin, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:43 (5 years ago) Permalink
i'd never thought about the murderer angle before! and tdbyc is in my top 5 abba tunes ever - it's always the one i bring out when people accuse them of being a shitty throwaway pop band or whatever.
great piece tom, kudos.
― CharlieNo4, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 17:15 (5 years ago) Permalink
Blue = shade of a corpse, too.
― Noodle Vague, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 18:12 (5 years 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