When you are, like Agnetha Fältskog, a member of a supergroup like ABBA, it puts a heavy pressure on you. On the one hand, it’s obviously very enjoyable to be a part of one of the most successful groups in the world, on the other hand, it puts heavy obligations on you. Like making a solo album: of course, you have a lot of contacts and producers, writers/composers, arrangers and musicians are waiting in line to be part of the expected success. But everyone also expects that a solo album like that is going to be good. After all, you are a part of ABBA, aren’t you? Agnetha had to make a difficult decision, but she cut the knot and her album ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’ is finished.
Mike Chapman is the name of her producer and with the hits that he – mostly together with partner Mickey Chinn - produced for artists like Sweet, Mud, Suzi Quatro, Racey and Smokie, you could fill a book. Agnetha met him last summer in America, asked if Mike wanted to produce her solo album and got an enthusiastic ‘yes’ as a reply.
This is how it happened that in the Polar Studios in Stockholm, the blonde singer was assisted by Smokie-members Chris Norman, Terry Uttley and Alan Silson, because Mike had brought ‘his boys’ along. “We definitely needed good backing vocals and that gave me the idea to ask the Smokie-guys for the job.”
Chris, Terry and Alan have been steady ABBA-fans for years and didn’t have to think twice. For five days, the three Brits sang the backing vocals for seven songs on the album and on one song, the only song composed entirely by Agnetha, Alan plays a guitar part.
Without a doubt, Mike is counting on a worldwide success: “I’m positive that we will at least sell five million copies around the world. That’s why we’ve already chosen four tracks that will be released as a single. Four hits, I would say!”
And what about ABBA’s regular composers/lyric writers, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson?
Mike Chapman: “Björn and Benny haven’t contributed to Agnetha’s album, just like they haven’t to Frida’s solo album. This is a product that’s completely her own and that has been the intention from the very beginning.”
So, ABBA has nothing to do with Agnetha’s solo album; only studio musicians were used that usually play on the ABBA-albums as well, but that was only a matter of convenience: they were around anyway. And that’s how all ABBA- and especially the Agnetha-fans are waiting anxiously for ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’. The album should be released at the end of May, according to ABBA’s record company and, as usual, it will be released around the world simultaneously.
A risky venture? A new album always is, even if your name is Agnetha and you are a member of ABBA...