Abba: The Album is a career-high curio'


It was also Abba's most successful studio album in the US.

by Allen Therisa in Pet Sounds

Welcome aboard Abba Airways.
Welcome aboard Abba Airways.

Abba: The Album




Abba albums usually fall into one of two categories; those that are the result of the group locking themselves away for months on end, polishing their latest collection of songs within a millimetre of their life and which then go on to sell by the skipload (Arrival, Super Trouper), and the brasher, of the moment, "concept" albums, which even the fans aren't that keen on (Voulez Vous - the disco album! - and The Album - their sometime folk-rock effort).

You can almost see the record executives toe-tapping their way through their first listening of this; Eagle - strong beat, atmospheric, single material; Take A Chance On Me - like the good old days; One Man, One Woman - reliable filler; The Name Of The Game - could be a hit, but don't quote me on that; Move On - trusty side one closer, nothing to worry about here; Hole In Your Soul - groovy; and then, finally; The Girl With The Golden Hair.

Which is, er, "interesting".

On the back of 1977's colourful and effortlessly entertaining Abba: The Movie, Abba: The Album (do you see what they did there?) accompanies the group's big-screen record of their recent hysterical Australian tour with a big, blousy long-player of multi-layers and stately tunes. At times The Album hits the mark (The Name Of The Game will forever be a pop masterpiece), while at others it floats off under its own steam, leaving the punters gazing up at the aural balloon as it slips into the clouds.

Perhaps it is bloody-mindedness on the part of our Scandinavian pop parents, or simply their need to blow off their version of creative steam (this was after all at the height of punk), but The Album is a curious affair - and that's before you get to their "mini-musical" (their words) The Girl With The Golden Hair which closes the album.

Comprising three (apparently related) tracks, the cutesy Thank You For The Music, more cutesy I Wonder (Departure) and hysterical I'm A Marionette, The Girl With The Golden Hair was, apparently, a work in progress at the time of the album's recording, and a matter of some discussion on the part of the group and the men in suits back at the record company.

Whether The Girl With The Golden Hair actually adds anything of value to the album, or simply kidnaps it and yanks it off into a bizarre direction all of its own is something for the Abbamanicas to argue about when not arguing about the merits of the most recent release Voyage, but one thing is for certain - it remains an enigmatic album, whatever its curios'.

The Album: It's a little messy, jingly-jangly and dripping in vocal tricks and teases; it cuddles The Name Of The Game and Take A Chance On Me, has some musical candy at the end, and was Abba's most successful album release in America.

Which is a curiosity in itself.

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