ABBA: Classic Or Dud?

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I'm more nervous about this than about any other c-o-d thread I've posted. But I suppose I need to know who to shun for the rest of the year.

Tom, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

DUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD!

If that gets me shunned, I don't care. Abba is a vile abomination and Must Be Stopped. There are very few bands in the world that produce this sort of violent reaction in me.

It's a childhood thing. The very first time I ever visited America, they wouldn't stop playing Dancing Queen on the radio, so I have horrible bad associations.

If I could erradicate the influence of *one* band from modern music in its entirety, Wonderful Life-Stylee, it would be Abba.

Thoroughly and unmitigatingly VILE.

kate the saint, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yes Kate, but.....why?

Tom, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

This is a question? ;) The terms ABBA and Classic are almost interchangeable. Best singles band ever. They had an Olympian aura, when joyous the world feels lighter, more colourful and justified. When they explore sadness trees cry, the world turns grey, loss attains a mythical quality. My 3 favorite ABBA songs are 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', 'S.O.S.' and 'Chiquitita' (the outro always makes me misty-eyed, something to do with perfect childhood memories I guess).

Omar, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

ABBA: Classic. Beautiful songs with strange lyrics about Swedish people. Heartbreak and ecstasy. And so on.

That said, my friend Trish maintains that "although Abba are great, if you are ever in a nightclub which is playing Abba music, you are in a bad nightclub".

PihkalBoy, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I can appreciate the melodic skill of the songwriting, the slickness of the production, the dramatic pop sheen, the timelessness, and the laudible refusal to revisit past glories, but strangely, I've never ever been able to *love* them, like I love the Beatles, even though the Beatles are clearly less consistent and more chauvinistically rockist.

Add to this the fact that Abba came back into style while I was at 6th form and every lunch hour was spent cringing at the extrovert "performances" of Abba songs by the drama students in the quad corner. So I have to register a "dud" because they do it for my head and hips, but not my heart.

Peter, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Oh, so classic it isn't even funny.

I would even so go far as to say that no other pop group in history has as consistently written such a dead on perfect string of singles.

Nicole, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I'm with Pete Waterman on this one (and of course the Steps catalogue is based, to a large extent, on Abba).

It's remarkable how critical opinion on them has turned around - they were pretty much reviled by the typical NME reader in the 70's, yet now it's uncommon to hear a word said against them. I suppose the reasons for that would be the genuinely lasting appeal of the melodies *and* the critical legitimisation of cheese.

David, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

What type of sucker's game is this thread, Tom? To repeat a comment from the Joy Division one, there's a *reason* I have the box set. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Tom, why, you ask?

Well, a *multitude* of reasons, and you're going to get them all, in the heart/head/hips trichotomy that has been brought up recently.

1) Heart - the aforementioned association with a very *bad* period of my life. I never heard them in the UK for some reason, I lived in a bubble of old skool mod broken occasionally by punk rockers from the bad end of the street. Hearing Abba is associated exclusively for me with early trips to the US, and then with moving there in 1979, destroying my life forever. So they were doomed from the start by association.

2) Head - They started the most *APPALLING* genre of music ever. Respectfully keeping in mind your musical tastes, Tom, you've got to remember mine. From the aethetically criminally offensive domination of Pete Waterman, to today's crop of Steps and Atomic Kitten, I blame on Abba. I can occasionally even see redeeming glances of Motown in stuff like Destiny's Child, but this whole plastic disposable nightmare of irredemable pap is the legacy of Abba. I understand the cute, kitschy Warhol Coke bottle appeal of some bubblegum, but anything Abbaesque is just inherantly tainted and evil to me.

3) Hips - god, it's the most souless, slick, over-produced music I've ever heard. I know this is exactly what people praise it for- the slick production and knowingly terrible songwriting, but this is what makes me loathe it. I know that it's a terrible racial stereotypes to call music "black" or "white" as a substitute for expressing the even dodgier concept of "soul" but there really isn't any other way to describe the whiter than wonder bread Swedish pop abhorrences appropriating the "black" sound of disco and rendering it even more impotent and soulless than Kraftwerk.

No, I can't even say that, because Kraftwerk aimed to make machinelike music and succeeded. Abba puported to make soul music, but in reality made machinelike mass-produced pap. (That said, I actually rather like Kraftwurk.)

I don't like Abba. I never will like Abba. I cannot even conceive of liking Abba "ironically". I will not allow it in the house. My loathing of anything Abba borders on the obsessive.

And that brings up another thing- the sort of ironic kitschy-pop adulation of Abba by not only crap automaton office people, but serious music lovers who should know better.

I FUCKING HATE ABBA.

kate the saint, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I hate when it is implied that one can only like Abba (or pop music) ironically. Just because I like Spacemen 3 doesn't mean the only way I could possibly like Abba is as some sort of joke or pose. Each are geniunely great in their own way.

Nicole, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Well, fair do's Kate you don't like them, but I think some of your salvos are taking aim at an out-of-date idea that people like Abba kitschly or ironically. I don't think anyone does any more, honestly. I think they just like them. And I think the songwriting and production is often brilliant, though occasionally (springs to mind because it's playing now - the awful guitar solo in "Our Last Summer") they make ghastly mistakes, and some songs, particularly away from the singles, seem just collections of hooks that they couldnt be arsed to fit together.

I'm not sure about the unequivocal classic - even their run of singles has some clunkers (the early stuff for instance) but at their frequent best they are THE best. Brilliant lyrics, utterly emotionally convincing songs, adult perspectives, ravishing melodies, irresistible machine grooves, voices full of shivering restraint....I think a lot of their stuff is still very, very underrated.

(Back to Kate - it's interesting that the things you single out in Abba - a cold whiteness, knowingly simplistic songwriting, anal attention to production texture, emotionless blankness - are exactly the things I'd single out to dislike about the post-Velvets drone and spacerock you like so much. ;))

Tom, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

If people can only like Abba ironically, they've sure as hell been putting a lot of effort in liking them ironically again and again for donkey's years. The Power Rangers never recieved this kind of longevity.

I would also contest that the songwriting is "deliberately awful". Some of the rhymes are indefensibly bad, but the melodies are drop dead classics.

But then I'm a crap automaton office person, so I would eat shit if McDonalds told me to, and if it helped me fit in with my mates.

Peter, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

So I'll be the FT writer that comes out in an anti-ABBA stance (well, anti-ABBA for us): listen, they are pretty good. I own their box set and enjoy a good 2/3 of it. But the other 1/3 is pure shit on par with the worst songs Natalie Imbruglia ever did. Possibly a bit more than 1/3. So yeah, 2/3 is normally enough for me to give them a classic rating, and I do really, really like them.

But the problem here is just how over-fucking-rated they are. "Ooh, pure pop perfection!" It's the sort of thing I can imagine Geir Hongro mantra-ing and it's annoying as all hell. It's not like they were god's gift to music and all things cultural. They were a fairly decent pop band.

They are the Beatles of dance pop, basically. Which is an unfortunate thing, because like the Beatles, who I technically half like, they become dud by association with myth.

Ally, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

FYI, I *DO* still know people who like them "ironically". Neither this nor the fact that many people like them genuinely diminishes my other arguments.

As to "crap automaton office people" I've worked in enough offices to know that the average person who works in an office usually owns about a dozen CDs- one of them is often an Abba CD. They simply don't care enough about music to be caught dead on a board like this. The only music they listen to is "on the radio".

As to the emotional blankness of spacerock compared to the emotional blankness of pap like Abba and Waterpop, the difference is that (good) Spacerock *aims* for blankness as a means of transcendance from often overpowering emotion. Abba and Abba-derived pop claims to be emotionally deep, yet it only acheives blankness through shallowness.

You all apparently luuuurrrrrvvve Abba. That's your right. What is the point of an opinion if there isn't an opposing one? I think still it's an abomination.

For all my jibes about irony and soullessness, the basic problem is that I DO NOT LIKE THEIR MUSIC. End of story.

kate the saint, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Ally - since I think there's little better in life than when pop music gets it entirely right I'll continue to froth and foam over ABBA, and anyway, Geir was right about loads of the detail, it was the theory that was so awful. I'll repeat, not a total classic because as you say a lot of their stuff - more than a third certainly - is pretty dire.

Kate - my suggestion would be that the sensitive boys who make spacerock would be a lot more interesting trying to express an extremity of emotion rather than bashing out chords and letting their fringes flop. But this I think is a different thread. Not one I'm likely to start as I'd get too rude.

Tom, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The Flying Nun album of Abba covers: DUD!

Tesco Vee's Agnetha tribute in Forced Exposure: Classic!

"Gimme Gimme Gimme": Their best, gloomy, doomy classic.

Matching white jumpsuits: Whoa Nelly!

Overall: Classic.

AP, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Basically, Tom, we agree except you go with "sort of classic" by ignoring the hype, and I go "semi-dud" because I have a hard time avoiding the hype. It's all the same way of saying the same thing: they did a lot of shit songs, but they did a lot of good songs too.

It's just one of those things that drives me crazy, I referenced ol' Geir for a reason, which is that AS A STEREOTYPE ABBA is the sort of pop band that appeals to people like him, who think pop music is crap, but "Oh, look, ABBA has , so they are soooo much better than Britney Spears, who is awful". Sort of like how college kids who "hate rap" like the Beastie Boys.

And, quite frankly, either Kate has worked in the dodgiest offices ever or she's only worked one place, because I find that statement about 12 CDs and crap taste to be blatantly, patently untrue. I work in an office, Tom works in an office, Fred Solinger works in an office, so on and so forth, and none of us have crap taste (in my opinion - take it or leave it how you will) and all of us have well over 12 CDs, and judging simply by my current office, we're not an abnormality. One of my coworkers has 8,000 CDs. He's 35 and the corporate controller - talk about stereotypical white collar desk jobs, eh?

Ally, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I don't care about the 70's-kitsch factor , or the fact that they're in every home. For "SOS", "Gimme, Gimmee", "Dancing Queen", "Mamma Mia" - Classic! Let's conveniently ignore "Thank-you for the Music"

Dr. C, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I just started listening to Abba, and I still haven't gotten past the first half of Gold, so obviously at this point I think they're the greatest group ever.

Otis Wheeler, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

dancing queen is just one of the best singles ever. it is just transcendental. i don't understand why its perceived to be emotionless. i mean, yeh, its icy (can i use glacial here please?), but its in this kind of distanced way. because its quite heartbreaking.

is the perception of coldness because abba didn't use traditional signifiers of earthyness and grit (ie 'soulful' voices', rougher feel etc)? is it something to do with europeanness?

i think the idea of 'soul' is often too bound up with a certain way of thinking. i actually dislike the use of the word soul (perhaps because it implies something), much as i dislike 'vibe' etc (although i've been guilty of using that one)

and why is there the perception that abba, or kraftwerk, or autechre, lack 'something', that emotive aspect? because they seem very emotive to me.

anyway abba are classic, just for dancing queen alone...

gareth, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Never paid them any attention at all. I suppose I've intellectually grasped their pleasure, but I've never ever got a song stuck in my head, or felt the need to hear one again, or anything really. Sort of like uh, the Beatles for me, except even less so. You know?

Sterling Clover, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

classic! utterly so.

i actually started on the same side as kate: hated people for their ironic adulation of the band, hated the white-bread sound, the goofy outfits, the slick production, the critical reassessment of the band, so on and so forth, all i'm missing is the psychological scarring. actually, all i knew by them was "dancing queen," but, OH, that was enough.

but it wasn't enough. and then, on a whim, feeling at the end of my rope pop music wise, i TOOK A CHANCE ON THEM (yes!) and downloaded "knowing me, knowing you." which is now one of a handful of my favorite songs ever.

i bet that the less you know about them, and especially the less albums you own by them, the better off you are. i, for example, only own abba gold and have gone very little further, though i've discovered that "the visitors" and "the day before you came" are also glorious songs. so based on abba gold, one of my desert island discs, i have no hesitation in proclaiming them a classic, one for the ages, and all of that. compare them to motown, a singles label if there ever was one: i imagine if i started buying four tops albums and huge boxed sets, i'd realize that probably a good half of their output was shit. as it is, though, based on a best of and a few of the greatest singles ever recorded, they're thoroughly classic. and so too are abba.

fred "dancing queen" solinger, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Oh ABBA are great...I don't think anyone could really admit to not liking at least one of their songs! They are classic.

james edmund L, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Well, after all that, maybe the question should instead be, "Erasure's Abba covers, classic or dud?" ;-)

Nicole raised a very good point that I have to briefly expound upon -- one can, indeed, lurve someone else's diametric opposites, much to said other person's distress/anger/loathing etc. Like Nicole, Abba and Spacemen 3, for instance, nestle in my collection without regret. Viva.

And I have to say that Ally's call of 'Abba as the Beatles of dance-pop' is FUCKING BRILLIANT. Yoo rool.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I went to a '70s theme bar in tha Toon - all the music sucked except for ABBA - everything serves the song - agree with most comments - ill production that reveals new detail when unraveled on each listening - have never bought a record by them but they have followed me from skooldiscos-parties-shops-the film - life affirming.

But I hate ABBA fans - theys the rats knackers !

All the things I could do ......, Thursday, 19 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I do 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.

Andrew, Friday, 20 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

erm, please insert the word 'hate' between the words 'do' and 'the' to make (some) sense of my last posting. thanks.

Andrew, Friday, 20 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Abba: Classic.
The cult of ABBA: Dud.

I'm not ashamed to admit that the first album I ever willingly went out to purchase (ie. not the kiddie albums with yer abc's and such) was Waterloo, by ABBA, when I was all of 5, and that I religiously followed them until the end. I picked up each new relase on vinyl as it came out, and always cheered when one of the new singles cracked the Top 10. Sure it was cloying and sweet pop on the surface, but if you go back and re-listen to some of it, it was clear that something else was going on under the surface. From about Arrival on until the end, they were masters at fusing ripping guitar with popmusik and emerging unscathed. (I'd even argue that they started this even earlier, on songs like "Mamma Mia" and "SOS", but it's not so noticeable. And I shouldn't even have to mention that the title track from "The Visitors" was one of the most bent songs ever to be released into the mainstream by a supposedly "sickly sweet pop band": it was brilliantly claustrophobic both lyrically and musically, and the music was more reminiscent of stuff happening on the edges, like Gary Numan almost. The other thing that struck me about ABBA releases at the time: the construction of the album packages was always top- notch, with a glossy and thick sleeve both inside and out...no cheapo paper slipcovers for the vinyl. I realize I was young, but at the time it felt almost like art.

As I mentioned above, the cult of Abba I can do without. There came a point where it became kitsch to like them, and while I don't disagree that most of the fans today no longer listen to it for that reason, the association of kitsch lingers on thanks to films like "Muriel's Wedding" and the stage production of "Mamma Mia". Many people who like to think that they have good taste in music therefore view it as a red flag, and either hide their ABBA collection or say something like, "aahhh, they were gifts" or some other self-deluding thing. I admit that I'm like that, and that while I own a CD copy of The Visitors, I can't bring myself to buy copies of their earlier albums even when I find them in the used bin for cheap...though I really am tempted...just because of fear of losing face in the eyes of the salesclerks. Is that sad or what?

Sean Carruthers, Friday, 20 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

well, i'll really be the ft writer to declare abba an unqualified dud. qualified, maybe, by that i've only heard the greatest hits and the singles. and i tried too, despite my initial instinctive hatred. something about them is just so . . . cloying, was that the word, andrew? a mix of the over-sweet production and the vocal style, i think. i don't remember the beats or melodies doing much for me either.

anyway, when did people start unabashedly liking them again?

sundar subramanian, Friday, 20 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Worth it for SOS alone.

DG, Friday, 20 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Pretty much standard response. The early stuff, and most of their albums, are very patchy, but at their frequent best: untouchably classic.

Robin Carmody, Saturday, 21 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

aw the flying nun tribute record is good. the chug version of 'money' is dud for sure but that death metal version of 'super trooper' by headless chickens is a beautiful thing. also there magick heads doing a wonderful job on 'when i kissed the teacher' and able tasmans on 'sos' and shayne carter and fiona macdonald making 'the name of the game' pretty spooky and bike's 'my love my life' must make one swoon, it's a test of life. more snow tomorrow, sheesh. how can it be 80 three days ago and then 10 inches of snow tomorrow?

is it hard to like spacemen 3? it is bandied about like an attribute on one's resume here.

keith, Saturday, 21 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

is it hard to like spacemen 3? it is bandied about like an attribute on one's resume here.

Nah. I mentioned liking them because I know they are one of Kate's favorite bands, so they were sort of relevant to the discussion at hand. Not meant to be some sort of name dropping exercise at all, because that would be pretty sad...

Nicole, Saturday, 21 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

It's all some people know about me.

it should be on my tombstone.

"Hi, I'm Kate, and I like Spacemen3".

This entire thread was an exercise in futility. You all had your ideas about Abba, and your ideas about people that hate Abba, and I was just there to provide the foil for your gushing. Everybody is satisfied.

kate the saint, Friday, 27 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
On holiday in the UK in the 80’s I saw a Johnathan Ross quiz show, one of the questions was ‘Is Samuel Beckett boring?’ The correct answer in this case was ‘Yes’. ( I wrote to Beckett about this, significantly I waited for a reply, then he died.) Although true, the answer fell short, but it illustrates many of the problems I have with music that I have associations with. Whether or not it's value depends on personal interpretation.
Is Abba Classic? Yes, but not just because of what their music meant to us as individuals, their ubiquity guarantees they mean something to those who grew up in the 70's, but because they're so compatible. It's such a basic formula, two couples in love, (or not.) Abba can survive outside the kitsch, ironic light people tend to hold them in, because of this simplicity. I find myself revisting them from different perspectives, and they still work - soft-porn (soft focus, log cabins and pull-overs), camp (Freida's range and the disco sound) and another I'll get into in a minute. The lyrics are so innocuous, international, almost anything can be read into them (cept Waterloo?) Like great pop, it's adaptable, functions whatever the environment: adapted for the West End, and wasn't it even the sound of utopia to many behind the iron curtain in the 70s. I can't deny that people will have their own judgements about Abba based on personal experience, and maybe their teflon reputation will wear out, but they must go in the classic bag for their moments of shameless optimism or endearing naivity.
On a personal note. For me, Abba are forever bound up with associations from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the image of the clouds swirling behind the homestead, the car lights seperating in the rear-window, toys coming alive. Their music carries the most terrifying connotations: cosmic horror, a space without reference or proportion, where the women's voices are those of 'angels', or people not of this world, here to save me, or take me away, I'm never sure . So you understand what I mean about being able to read anything into them.

K-reg, Monday, 14 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

rubbish not even dud just bland.....

cockney red, Sunday, 20 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
I became an Abba fan from their "Waterloo" hit in 1974. I was 8 then, and that was at the first "rock" music I had listened to. I followed their career for some time, having then no idea that they would ever be regarded as "classics" .

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 back then...

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 "upbeat".

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 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

four months pass...
A bit late to join the debate I know, but Abba clearly and unequivocally rule.

Chris, Friday, 18 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Abba are definitely one of my favorite bands. Funny that I still say "are", they not being around the last twenty years or so. I don't recall being aware of them when they were around, but now they seem as real a current favorite as any Boredoms album I can think of (well, maybe not VCN).

I think for any of you aspiring pop writers (and by writers, I don't mean journalists, I mean musicians), I can't think of a better, more consistently perfec group of people to follow than Abba. Their music (the songs, the arrangements, the singing, the production) was so wonderfully, precisely pop and transient, and yet if I wanted to find music more studied and academic (in a good way), I'd have to go to Bach.

I can conceivably find two flaws for which to fault Abba (on pop music grounds): 1) sometimes the lyrics came out slightly awkward, and given their utterly airtight songwriting, I can only attest this to the fact that English wasn't their first language; 2) most of their albums were comprised of singles surrounded by what could be construed as "filler". Generally, if I like a band this much, I'm inclined to just buy their studio LPs, but Abba is the exception that proves my rule, and I could probably live with Gold and More Gold -- even though I ended buying the albums anyway!

And if that wasn't enough: they got better as they went along. The last studio record (The Visitors) is their best, even when both couples were divorced, and the band was on the verge of collapse. That's professionalism, with intimidatingly good songwriting to boot.

dleone, Friday, 18 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

five months pass...
Although 60% of their work could be considered "filler" (super truoper and his bad attempts at disco, i.e.), the remaining 40% is *so* good that I have to say classic. "Arrival" is my favorite.

And yes, they do sound better when you're in an office.

fernando, Friday, 21 June 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Self promotion.

dleone, Friday, 21 June 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

This is a nice thread because it would never occur to me to compare ABBA to space rock outfits. The flaw here is that you're comparing one group to thousands.

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
Dumb, vacuous, cynical, hangbag waving, glitter and spandex schlock, party music without possessing the understanding of how to party, gimmick-heavy, mindless, and flithy, filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy, souless, artless, irrelevant, marshmallow mind-rot, with no edge, no passion, no skill, bad instrumentation, lazy hooks, and boring to the point of necessitating a government health warning. An essential but nonetheless deeply shocking indictment of to just what desperately pisspoor levels mankind's musical tastes and interests may degenerate to.

I love it.

I don't love it. Dud.

Roger Fascist, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Rockist.

Sterling Clover, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Roger, for god's sake - this is *NOT* a nu-garage-rock thread.

Clarke B., Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I don't love it. Dud.

Not mindless, and no lack of skill. Everything else is debatable.

dleone, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oh thank GOD, another chance to express my HATRED for ABBA.

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 cake stand.

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.

Oh, and RF - now that was a seriously enjoyable post...

Ray M, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

But they have a GOOD BEAT and you can DANCE TO THEM! A bit of Dick Clark rationale that actually holds up in my admittedly biased case.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 31 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

But they have a GOOD BEAT and you can DANCE TO THEM!
That is true for Boney M which were the most embarrassing act ever as well. In my first dancing lesson we danced to Rasputin. What a load of shite. If Boney M hadn't existed Abba would have been the worst band of the 70s. Actually thinking about my hate of Abba, I am sure it has to do with Abba's overexposure when I grew up. In the beginning (at age 10 or something, I was born in 1963) I liked Waterloo and Ring Ring Ring. There was nothing like it at that time. One or two years later all the music was like it. And after five million unwanted radio listens of this stuff it was over. They are so dud that it is not funny anymore.

alex in mainhattan, Thursday, 1 August 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

And didn't like schlager, I assume.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 15:06 (six months ago) Permalink

I didn't but I did grow up with ABBA Gold and More ABBA Gold on near-constant repeat and they were clearly the lowlights of the compilation

(More ABBA Gold is the better compilation, anyway)

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 15:08 (six months ago) Permalink

I'm kinda fine with schlager at this point but I'm also fine with Chas & Dave and I bring this up because the journey to be able to enjoy that stuff if you're from the continent* is what I imagine the journey to being able to enjoy Chas & Dave would be like for Brits.

* don't want to lump all of Europe together but in my experience every nation I've been to has an equivalent

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 15:20 (six months ago) Permalink

song is mitigated by the fact everyone and EVERYONE sings 'chicken tikka you and I know' when it comes on

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:16 (six months ago) Permalink

is this worse i dunno

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGoWbJbgjbY

piscesx, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:17 (six months ago) Permalink

I'm kinda fine with schlager at this point but I'm also fine with Chas & Dave and I bring this up because the journey to be able to enjoy that stuff if you're from the continent* is what I imagine the journey to being able to enjoy Chas & Dave would be like for Brits.

* don't want to lump all of Europe together but in my experience every nation I've been to has an equivalent

― Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:20 PM (fifty-five minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Had some very similar thoughts a while ago when I realised that the UK west country still celebrates The Wurzels as part of their regional identity, getting played at weddings and birthday parties. More than just 'Combine Harvester' too. Wouldn't mind a thread about regional novelty acts - the Proclaimers, Chas'n'Dave, the Wurzels, maybe even someone like Sleaford Mods could even count..

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:19 (six months ago) Permalink

(xp) Of course, that is garbage. Anyway, if an ABBA album has "I Have a Dream" on it then it's simply not possible for any other track to be any dudder, duddlier.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:21 (six months ago) Permalink

(xp) Uh, I'm no fan of theirs but do you really want to label the Proclaimers as a regional novelty act to sit alongside the Wurzels?

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:22 (six months ago) Permalink

*holds hand up slightly and murmurs* 'I Have A Dream' makes me a bit weepy when I hear it. I know it's sentimental dreck but it's a killer 'ambushed by unexpected emotion' song for me.

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:24 (six months ago) Permalink

xp - maybe? is there that much in it?

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:24 (six months ago) Permalink

If the Proclaimers are regional novelty act then I'd nominate the Pogues as the same, London Irish.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:25 (six months ago) Permalink

i guess The Wurzels are seen much more as a comedy act than the Proclaimers so maybe they're not part of it but 500 Miles is like a standard now and synonymous with Leith/Edinburgh to the rest of the country.

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:26 (six months ago) Permalink

They're not from Edinburgh or Leith though.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:27 (six months ago) Permalink

But, no-one south of the Tweed can pronounce Auchtermuchty tbf.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:28 (six months ago) Permalink

it's synonymous with rugby lads on the piss to the rest of the country

as the crows around me grows (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:29 (six months ago) Permalink

well sure.

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:30 (six months ago) Permalink

maybe "Thank You For the Music" is worse than "Chiquitita" but I ain't gonna find out.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:33 (six months ago) Permalink

Have you not heard "I Have A Dream"?

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:39 (six months ago) Permalink

The 'Doris Day' version of Thank You For The Music is quite a fun little genre exercise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7pb1R1mXFw

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:44 (six months ago) Permalink

Combine Harvester was massive compared to Brand New Key, i think many people back then (maybe even now?) were unaware it was a parody.

piscesx, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 18:39 (six months ago) Permalink

Exactly like Angelo and Fernando then.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 18:53 (six months ago) Permalink

hot take: "Chiquitita" and "Fernando" are both among their worst singles

― aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Tuesday, March 13, 2018 2:12 PM (four hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

OTM.

Fwiw, I don't think ABBA ever made a studio album that doesn't have at least one track that's far too corny for me. Even the last two LP's. Take the 1975 self-titled record, for instance: 'Mamma Mia', 'Hey Hey Helen', 'S.O.S.', even 'Tropical Loveland' and 'Intermezzo No. 1' are all superb, but then you've got unbearable crap like 'Bang a Boomerang' ...

Arrival has 'When I Kissed the Teacher' and 'Dum Dum Diddle' on it, both cringeworthy as fuck.

Full of bile and Blue Nile denial (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:11 (six months ago) Permalink

'When I Kissed the Teacher' cringeworthy? I think you'd best pack up your things and ride on out of town, stranger.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:17 (six months ago) Permalink

Yes, cringeworthy.

Full of bile and Blue Nile denial (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:22 (six months ago) Permalink

I think you spend too much time listening to lyrics.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:24 (six months ago) Permalink

On that song, they're fucking unavoidable!

Full of bile and Blue Nile denial (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:31 (six months ago) Permalink

Sometimes when I listen to 'Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimme!', I just wish that middle section would go on for a little bit longer. I love that groove.

Full of bile and Blue Nile denial (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:37 (six months ago) Permalink

I’ve always liked “I Have a Dream.” I think it’s a much darker song than the critical consensus suggests. Also, electric sitar (?) on ABBA’s attempt at a country song (??)? Fuckin sign me up.

It's like an Christian pop (thewufs), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:40 (six months ago) Permalink

I don't think it's supposed to be a country song, more like a Hitler Youth anthem.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:42 (six months ago) Permalink

Also electric sitar? Where? You mean the mandolins? (I think there are mandolins on it anyway).

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:43 (six months ago) Permalink

I don't think it's supposed to be a country song, more like a Hitler Youth anthem.

― Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:42 PM (two minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

uh citation very fucking much needed (are you thinking of ace of base or something)

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:45 (six months ago) Permalink

I don't mean they literally wrote it as a Hitler Youth anthem, it just sounds like they did.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:46 (six months ago) Permalink

Always gave off a "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" vibe to me.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Tuesday, 13 March 2018 19:47 (six months ago) Permalink

Originally they had a crack at writing a national anthem type thing, which ultimately ended up in Chess. It was called Nationalsang at one point, then Anthem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEUi1Pptb5c

piscesx, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 21:04 (six months ago) Permalink

Does "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" come from schlager stylistically?

timellison, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 07:20 (six months ago) Permalink

I'd put it in with their rock'n'roll pastiches.

everything, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 07:26 (six months ago) Permalink

I was wondering if that was it, too, with the swing rhythm. It's always sounded European and old fashioned to me, though! Like, really old fashioned.

timellison, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 07:29 (six months ago) Permalink

Why Did It Have To Be Me is pretty similar but maybe more schlager because of the male-female back and forth.

It's hard to say exactly what is and isn't schlager. One level is that it's just pop music and if it works it's broadly popular and that kinda makes it schlager.

The big Abba-as-schlager record is the original Greatest Hits, with He Is Your Brother, Hasta Manyana, Another Town Another Train, Fernando, Dance While the Music Still Goes On...

everything, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 07:37 (six months ago) Permalink

oh look it's a list of all the ABBA songs I can't stand

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 13:50 (six months ago) Permalink

(the fact that the same band is responsible for "The Visitors" and "Nina, Pretty Ballerina" astounds me)

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 13:53 (six months ago) Permalink

There's a good Chuck Eddy quote in Accidental Evolution about ABBA's stylistically underpinnings. I'll try to find it.

timellison, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:08 (six months ago) Permalink

this song is fucking incredible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhr6tUE32YA

tinnitus the night (Ross), Saturday, 17 March 2018 16:32 (six months ago) Permalink

Also electric sitar? Where? You mean the mandolins? (I think there are mandolins on it anyway).

The first sound on the song (and punctuating throughout) is electric sitar (Coral sitar). It is very groovy and of its time (or an earlier time even). It is also kind of awesome for that and other reasons.

Also I have only a vague idea what schlager even is.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 17 March 2018 16:59 (six months ago) Permalink

Eagle tho'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDI7x1nwTUw

MaresNest, Saturday, 17 March 2018 18:09 (six months ago) Permalink

omg what a freeze frame

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 March 2018 18:10 (six months ago) Permalink

Did they do anything quite as Floydian as Eagle?

They could have made a really cool, peripherally prog sounding record.

MaresNest, Saturday, 17 March 2018 18:20 (six months ago) Permalink

They have quite a few progge moments.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Saturday, 17 March 2018 18:26 (six months ago) Permalink

Intermezzo No. 1!

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Saturday, 17 March 2018 18:26 (six months ago) Permalink

'Intermezzo No. 1' fucking rules.

Full of bile and Blue Nile denial (Turrican), Sunday, 18 March 2018 00:58 (six months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92L6balksi8

That bassline...

vmajestic, Monday, 2 July 2018 13:45 (two months ago) Permalink


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