In 1980, a reporter from Dutch magazine Hitkrant travelled to Stockholm to present ABBA with the Group of the Year award, awarded to them by readers of the magazine. At the time, ABBA was busy in the studio, working on their Super Trouper album.
In January this year, it was announced: in the competition ‘Artist/Group of the Month’, ABBA was proclaimed ‘Group of the Year 1979’, four points ahead of the runner-up, The Police. Obviously, this deserves a Hitkrant-award and Hitkrant’s Ton Vingerhoets and photographer Aad Spanjaard grabbed ABBA’s invitation to come to Stockholm to hand over the award and at the same time find out how the recordings for the new album are coming along, with both hands.
A new album is not a piece of cake. Composing, writing lyrics, making arrangements, recording, mixing: this means months of hard work for Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. Therefore, it’s quite understandable that a group doesn’t want to be disturbed during these hectic months.
That’s why it was a big honour that ABBA invited us, by way of exception, to come to Stockholm, right in the middle of the recording sessions. A broiling Stockholm by the way, where we were perspiring already at half past ten in the morning, while standing in front of the door of the splendid ABBA studio at Sankt Eriksgatan. Thankfully, the building has air-conditioning and inside it was perfectly cooled.
Benny was already working hard, the other three hadn’t arrived yet. From the open door of the studio, the unmistakable sounds of an ABBA-song were floating towards the hall. New, very new. It sounded a bit like ‘Thank You For The Music’, but it was a lot heavier: we were met with a roaring guitar solo. Together with Benny.
Is this going to be the new single, is what we wanted to know after the friendly welcome. “It’s almost sure,” Benny confirms. “We just don’t have a title for it yet, but it will be released at the end of June. The album is progressing nicely as well. Eight tracks are now completely finished, out of the fifteen that we are going to record. Probably twelve of them will make it onto the album.”
In the meantime, three other sumptuous BMW’s had parked behind Benny’s grey BMW at the studio’s parking-lot: Agnetha’s red one, Björn’s equally red one and Frida’s green one. The company was complete and welcomed us most cordially.
“Just a little while longer and then we are off for a holiday,” Frida sighed, dressed in an orange trouser suite. “It rarely happens that the weather is this nice in Sweden,” Benny adds. “As soon as those eight tracks have been mixed, we will quit and withdraw on Lidingö (the island in the bay of Stockholm, where ABBA lives). Then we will do absolutely nothing for a couple of months, not even composing, like we do otherwise. After that, we will go into the studio again. I reckon that we will need two to three weeks to complete the album, so you can expect it to be released at the end of September or the beginning of October.”
For the time being, a new tour is not on their schedule; ABBA still has to recover from the last one, no matter how successful it was. The album is more important at the moment. “We hope that you’ll understand that we don’t have time for you all day,” Benny said. “Usually, we don’t do these kinds of things, but the Hitkrant-award...” Laughter.
Indeed, the award. This time it’s made of gold coloured metal and it’s received gratefully, after Benny had quickly put on a jacket and Agnetha had run a comb through her hair and put on some make-up. For the pictures.
We decided not to bother the quartet any longer and said goodbye. “Say hello to Holland!” Agnetha called on our way out. Hereby, we are doing just that, together with ABBA’s thanks to you, Hitkrant-readers, for the election of ‘Group of the Year 1979’ of a group that once again showed that they are still on top. More to come!