Things are not looking up for ABBA at the moment. Although you immediately wonder what could possibly dampen the festive spirit in the Swedish superstar camp. Because for starters, there is the increasing success of their newly released single ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’. Apart from that, a very mysterious remix of that very same track, originating from Canada, is currently a top favourite in all the trendy discotheques. Meanwhile, the ‘Stars On 45’ part 2 medley of all the ABBA hits seems to become a guaranteed number one hit in virtually every country in the world at the moment. Reason enough for a telephone conversation with the quartet’s big boss, Stig Anderson.
The fifth ABBA, as Stig is often called, is actually not surprised at all when we ask him why an umpteenth single was culled from the ‘Super Trouper’ album instead of the announced new composition. Allegedly, four brand new tracks for the upcoming album have been completed.
“That’s true, but in the end we decided to pass on them,” he admits honestly. “We listened to them for days but our unanimous decision remained the same, we don’t think they are strong enough to release as a single. Oh, all of these songs would probably be able to occupy a position on the charts but our reputation has become more important to us than a hit that we’re not completely satisfied with. We don’t want to mislead the fans in any way.”
Likewise, the album that was initially scheduled for a September release has been postponed for six weeks and it probably won’t be available in the shops before Christmas and the holiday season. Artistic and technical problems, is what we understand.
“As you know, Benny and Björn are adamant about coming up with new compositions that are not a copy of something they have already done before,” according to Stig. “After everything they’ve done already, that’s definitely not an easy task. And it becomes more difficult with every album. Björn and Benny are worried about that too. They were even prepared to postpone their holiday so that they wouldn’t fall behind. But I objected to that. As a matter of fact, I’ve ordered them to take a holiday. They were living so stressfully that they wouldn’t have lasted for a couple more weeks. On top of that, there are the private problems that all four of them have been suffering from and that they may not have digested yet. Apart from that, ABBA now consists of four members, who don’t have anything to do with each other privately any longer, which doesn’t make it easier to plan things and work together. But, believe me, we will manage.”
Where popularity is concerned, the four Swedish superstars don’t have anything to worry about for the time being. Their market value is enormous, even to the extent that there are always clever guys lurking around to get a piece of the ABBA fever. That’s how an illegal version of ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ made its way to Europe from Canada and is now a very popular track in our discotheques. The 12-inch mix is several minutes longer than the single version because the disco-flavoured intro of the song is repeated indefinitely at the start of the song and it’s also sequenced in between the verses.
“These are things that you have to deal with when you are successful,” says Stig. “The Beatles have experienced this as well, so has Elvis. In a way, you have to take it as a compliment. But I do intend to try and take legal actions. After all, we don’t get any royalties from an illegal record like that, and we are entitled to that. No, I much prefer the creator of the ‘Stars On 45’ ABBA compilation. For a change, we are making some money without having to work very hard for it. But what’s even more important is that a compilation like that could provide a complete breakthrough in the few countries where we haven’t managed that yet. The first ‘Stars On 45’ reached the number one spot in the United States. Just imagine that the second one with ABBA songs will follow the same path. This could mean a complete breakthrough in that territory for us. Although some of our records did chart in America, we haven’t reached the absolute top yet. Well, if ‘Stars On 45’ can get us there now, we can only thank the man who is the creator of it all.”