Wednesday 29 October 2008

Dagblad voor Noord-Limburg, 1984: ABBA-album released only in our country

A Dutch newspaper article about the release of a compilation album, designed exclusively for the Dutch market. The record company was eager to release a new ABBA-product and since there were no new recordings available, they opted for a compilation album. The choice of songs was interesting; the album included rare B-sides such as Elaine and Cassandra, as well as the edited single versions of Frida’s To Turn The Stone and Agnetha’s Wrap Your Arms Around Me. The album was also available on CD for a short period of time.
Out of sight, out of mind, is how the old saying goes. As it turns out, this is not always applicable, considering what’s happening with ABBA at the moment. Record company Polydor, apparently tired of the fact that there’s still no ABBA-news, asked and got permission to release a special ABBA-compilation, titled ‘From ABBA With Love’.

And that is rather special, because the ABBA-clan vetoes a lot of initiatives, that don’t originate from themselves. Alas, this compilation-album will exclusively be available in our country. It includes a lot of well-known ABBA-hits, such as ‘One Of Us’, ‘The Day Before You Came’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Head Over Heels’.
To give the album the appearance that it has something new to offer, it also includes two songs – ‘Elaine’ and ‘Cassandra’ – that haven’t been included on an album before. They are, you guessed it, single B-sides. For the time being, we can’t expect something really new from the ABBA-front. An ABBA group-album is on their schedule, but it will definitely not be released this year. As reported, Björn and Benny are working together on a musical double-album. But that won’t be released in our country until next year either. In September, Frida will release a new solo-album, on which several big names from the pop-world will co-operate.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Hitkrant, September 1982: Frida didn't want to sound like ABBA

‘Frida’ is her name now. Simply Frida. Not ‘Anni-Frid Lyngstad’ or ‘ABBA’s Anni-Frid’ or even ‘Anni-Frid’. That’s how she’s in the charts with ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’. That’s her name on the cover of the single and the album ‘Something’s Going On’. And rightfully so, because by doing that, the Swedish singer wants to emphasize that her solo outing has absolutely nothing to do with ABBA, and that she doesn’t want to sound like ABBA either. A completely new experience, as if Frida had committed her voice to tape for the first time.

On page 20 of this issue you’ll find the review of her album and it’s clear that Frida has found new ways. With the help of big names from the international pop-scene: Phil Collins, Russ Ballard, Bryan Ferry, Giorgio Moroder, Rod Argent. Well, for an ABBA-member who wants to pursue a solo career it obviously isn’t very difficult to mobilize the cream of pop.

Frida explains: “When it became known that I wanted to do a solo-album, the songs came pouring in, after I had let the cat out of the bag here and there. Hundreds of lyrics and melodies passed me by, but actually not one of them was suitable for what I had in mind. That’s when we started to approach composers and lyric-writers ourselves.”

No music and lyrics by Björn and Benny this time? “Yes, but very sporadic. I wanted something different to what we had done with ABBA up ‘til now, rock-music instead of pop-music. That’s also the reason why I invited Phil Collins to produce my album. Of course I knew Genesis, but after I had heard Phil’s single ‘In The Air Tonight’, I knew that he and no one else had to produce my album. So I called him and Phil said yes.”

For that matter, this is not Frida’s first solo-album: about six years ago ‘Frida Ensam’ was released, in Swedish by the way, and even before she started to sing with ABBA, she could be heard solo on many occasions as well, albeit with jazzy music. Still, ‘Something’s Going On’ was a very exciting experience, due to the fact that from the beginning, Frida was very closely involved in the composition, preparations, choice of material and recordings. A completely new experience.
But this doesn’t mean that cracks are starting to appear in ABBA, not even now the other ABBA-lady, Agnetha, will start recording a solo-album as well in 1983. ABBA has started recordings already for the new album that should be released next year; this year, a double compilation-album is scheduled to be released, that will include two new songs as well. ABBA is alive, but the 37-year-old Frida has a life besides that as well. ‘Something’s Going On’ is clear proof of that.

Is it any wonder, to be able to make a great album like this one, when international pop-icons are waiting in line to help you with it? It’s a bit easier for Frida than for an average artist, but this album proves that she’s a first class singer, with a voice that can sound sharp and chilly, as well as warm and intimate, an almost perfect singing technique and very convincing.
‘Something’s Going On’ is full of musical finds; the masterful production by Phil Collins is clearly perceptible everywhere (and his drum-sound recognizable everywhere), and the guitar-playing by Daryl Stuermer, the melodic bass by Mo Foster and the wide keyboard-playing by Peter Robinson are gorgeous.
Actually, I should review every track of this album separately, unfortunately: no room for that. I’ll settle for the songs that are, in my opinion, the best: ‘Baby, Don’t You Cry No More’ by Rod Argent and ‘Here We’ll Stay’ (duet with Phil Collins). Less heavy than was suggested, but a magnificent album.

Hitkrant, 1983: How I overcame my fear of marriage

By putting small ads in two of Stockholm’s biggest newspapers, Agnetha Fältskog has announced that she’s going to marry Torbjörn Brander. Three years ago, this Swedish security agent was appointed to protect the safety of the ABBA-singer’s two children. He is the man that has made Agnetha happy again and that she feels safe with. Because of Torbjörn she has overcome her fear of marriage.

When Agnetha divorced Björn Ulvaeus five years ago, tough times were ahead of her, despite the many ABBA-millions. The blonde singer was full of doubts because of her failed marriage and withdrew more and more from everyday life. She herself calls it the darkest period of her life. The many handsome men that were spotted in her company since then didn’t make her happy either. Agnetha was living just for her children. But coincidentally, love still sneaked into her life again in the shape of Torbjörn Brander, the police inspector that was responsible for Agnetha’s children.
“At first, there wasn’t talk of love,” Agnetha says. “But, during the time that my children were threatened continuously, I felt secure with Torbjörn. We became friends and he understood my problems. Our love has grown slowly.”

Friends of the police inspector are saying that Torbjörn Brander had set his sights on Agnetha two years before that. But despite his persistence, Agnetha wouldn’t consider a new marriage. She felt guilty about her failing relationship with Björn and was scared to death of a new commitment. Why is she willing to take that big step now?
“A lot can happen in a time span of five years,” Agnetha says. “Björn has happily remarried and I’m entitled to new happiness as well. Apart from that, I’ve never felt so good in the company of a man as I do now with Torbjörn. He also gets along wonderfully with my children, who have known him for three years, trust him and respect him. With Torbjörn, I’m awaiting a secure future.”

Sunday 19 October 2008

Story, 1982: New loves are making the ABBA-girls happy again

Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Annifrid are looking satisfied and happy. The holiday that the ABBA-members have just had, has clearly done them good. It made many problems vanish into thin air...

“Before we took a couple of weeks off, the atmosphere within ABBA was particularly bad,” is what Benny recently told, “but we had used up all of our reserves. Never before did the recordings of an album take up so much time. Never before had there been conflicts in the group about the songs either. All in all, it took us almost eighteen months to complete ‘The Visitors’. So it’s no wonder that, right before the album was finished, we were getting in each other’s way constantly and were easier irritated than usually happens. I believe that especially the girls have experienced the past few months as a true torture. To be honest, Björn and I have neglected them too much during that time. But we had a lot of other things on our minds. All four of us could use a rest. That’s why we were craving for this holiday. We thought it would be wonderful to be able to think about something completely different for a while than the new album and other ABBA-business.”

Benny looked happy. Smilingly, he continued: “Mona and I have gotten married secretly on December 1. No one knew about it. But we didn’t think that was necessary. Now our first baby has finally arrived, we are so happy! There are no words to describe it... We mainly spent these days buying clothes for the baby and furnishing the nursery.”
Just like Benny, Björn was in a good mood as well. The preceding weeks, he had been occupied with homely matters as well. “My wife Lena and I have had a few wonderful weeks,” he revealed. “The children, Linda and Christian, stayed with us for a few days, which gave Agnetha some time off. Lena and I love it when the children come to visit. After all, they are just as much mine as they are Agnetha’s. Luckily, they get along great with Lena and our son...”

Both singers seemed to look at the future in a brighter mood as well. A few weeks before, the situation had been completely different: at that time, they were rather down-hearted. “We have made a few clear arrangements after our holiday,” Annifrid explained. “This enables me to spend more time with my children, Hans and Liselotte. They’re right in the middle of puberty and they need me more than ever. Apart from that, this year I would love to record a solo-album. In my spare time, I will remain singing with ABBA, just like Agnetha. You have to keep on looking at this singing as a kind of relaxation. I’ve gotten attached to it and I can’t live without it, so this seems to be the best solution. My boyfriend, Bertil Hjert, a 37-year-old vice-president of a textile company in Uppsala, agrees completely. That’s why I have a wonderful year ahead of me. I can just feel it!”

Agnetha was looking equally happy. “At a recent meeting, indeed a lot of problems have been solved,” she smiled, apparently relieved. “We’ve reached the conclusion that we don’t have to keep on recording music for the money. But all four of us enjoy it tremendously, providing that there’s a pleasant atmosphere. It’s almost impossible for Annifrid and me to continue without Benny and Björn. After all, Benny and Björn are the best songwriters in the world. We can’t write such good songs ourselves. Indeed, Benny and Björn wouldn’t like it at all if we would pursue a solo-career, because they want to continue with ABBA as well. We just don’t want to tour any longer, but in the future just record an album every now and then. Whenever we feel like it, and not because the fans want it so badly. Because all four of us started to lead separate private lives, we have neglected each other just a little bit. Because we wanted to be happy for ourselves again. That’s why we think our private lives are the most important thing right now and we will spend as much time as possible on that. I want to build a new life with my boyfriend Torbjörn Brander, who’s a detective at the Stockholm police. A life, in which he and my two children come first, and ABBA comes second. That’s why my children won’t have to miss me that often anymore. Although all of a sudden I’ve been asked to play Bobby Ewing’s new wife on the American series Dallas. As you might know, Victoria Principal will leave the show in the near future. But if I take that part, I will take Torbjörn, Linda and Christian with me to America.”

Sunday 12 October 2008

Weekend, November 1978: ABBA conquered the world through the backdoor

In the early sixties, four English guys with, for those days, extremely long hair, dressed in tight suits with small ties, stepped into the ruthless light of the international spotlights from nowhere. The Beatles conquered the world by storm and paved the way for a completely new approach to pop-music. The Beatles went on to become a pop-phenomenon like history had never seen before. After that, actually nothing happened. When the Beatles separated, all eyes were on England and America, awaiting the arrival of their successors. But they came from a totally unexpected corner. From Sweden. Through the backdoor actually. They were called ABBA. And this unique Weekend-special is deservedly dedicated to them.

Anni-Frid was born on November the 15th 1945, as a result of a relationship between her mother and a German officer. Anni-Frid has had a very unfortunate childhood. She has never known her father and her mother died when she was still very young. The hatred and contempt that mother Lyngstad experienced in her neighbourhood became fatal. Anni-Frid left for Sweden with her grandmother, married a jazz-musician and became a mother of two children. To further her career, she divorced and singing as a jazz-singer provided her with a shabby existence. ABBA gave her peace, happiness and a home. After nine years of living together with Benny, she married him in October ’78.

Björn was born on April the 25th 1945 in Gothenburg. He is ABBA’s goodwill-man and, together with Benny Andersson, responsible for the enormous string of hits. With his Hootenanny Singers, Björn Ulvaeus was one of Sweden’s top groups until he came in contact with Benny, with the help of Stig Anderson. It turned out that he could express his passion for music to the max, together with him.

Benny Andersson saw the light of day in the Swedish capital on December the 16th 1946. He is ABBA’s bearded piano-player and a former Swedish rock-idol, for whom screaming teenagers flocked together in the mid sixties and fell into a fainting-fit of pure adulation. When it comes to musical origin, Benny is the complete opposite of colleague Björn. Benny was the untamed rock-star who left his wife and children to devote himself completely to the music. ABBA has calmed him down and polished his talents.

Agnetha was born on April the 5th 1950 in the Swedish match-city Jönköping. She is ABBA’s blonde beauty, married to guitarist Björn Ulvaeus since 1971 and mother of two children. Agnetha was a fairly successful solo-singer who turned her naive image into her trademark. And she continues to do so in ABBA.

The private problems that the four of them were experiencing before their time with ABBA were enlarged upon after their breakthrough.
ABBA combines cool Swedish solidity with American show-perfection, South European passion and utopian joy and happiness. When, on top of that, two out of the three directors not only provide the hits but interpret them as well, is it any wonder that the ABBA-machine is running so smoothly?
ABBA has always been exposed to criticism and has had to clear up scandals and gossip on numerous occasions. Most of the time, it happens with a smile, like the time when a marriage announcement for Anni-Frid and Benny had to be invalidated or when Anni-Frid was being accused of using ABBA as a tool to enhance the sales of her solo-records. But every now and then, the accusations become too much, even for the ever smiling ABBA-members. With the sincere anger of a mother, the fiery, red-haired Anni-Frid snapped, when rumours were circulating that she had abandoned her children from her broken marriage to rush into a musical adventure. “My ex-husband and I got divorced in mutual agreement. The children are most happy with him and it would have been pretty selfish to take them with me to Stockholm.” This was basically Anni-Frid’s answer to the accusations in the Swedish tabloids.

Luckily, nasty experiences like this are just exceptions; ABBA has more ups than downs. With much fondness, the foursome obviously thinks back to their international breakthrough with ‘Waterloo’ at the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974. They still laugh their heads off when they think of Björn and Benny being halted at the stage-entrance, not even being able to collect their fairly deserved award. And they’re still grateful to that Dutch TV-producer, who was the only one to contract ABBA for a performance before their breakthrough. After ABBA, and especially Agnetha in her almost indecently tight stage-costume, had won over Brighton and the judges of the Contest with their new sound, the world was at their feet. Apart from Volvo, ABBA rapidly became Sweden’s biggest export article.

ABBA’s sense for public relations continues in their private lives as well. Björn and Agnetha’s wedding in 1971 was planned in the summer because the media would have their off-season then and they would publish a wedding like this as important news. Like so many times before, Stig Anderson was proven right. The wedding turned into the main occasion of the summer of 1971. The moment that Björn and Benny were appointed as co-directors of Polar Music was front page news as well. This happened after Stig Anderson’s co-founder of the company, Bengt Bernhag, had passed away. Anderson’s innate aversion to strangers brought him yet another lucky hit.
Together with Benny and Björn, he turned Polar Music into one of the world´s largest music publishing companies and together with the twosome he produced the string of ABBA-hits that his co-directors interpret themselves to the max. A formula like that can hardly be beaten.

Saturday 11 October 2008

Dagblad De Limburger, February 2002: Abused ABBA got tired of world fame

An article from a Dutch newspaper about the book Bright Lights, Dark Shadows by Carl Magnus Palm.
It took a long time before ABBA was being recognized by pop-musicians. By that time, ABBA had long become tired of the fame. This is what Carl Magnus Palm writes in a voluminous book about the popular Swedish band’s history.

After winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, the big success was waiting to happen. But things weren’t going well for the Swedish pop-group ABBA for a long time. The first concert-tour throughout Europe became a disaster; it left the members of the group with an aversion for outings like this. Apart from that, the punk-movement was claiming its territory. Punk was hip and from that corner, ABBA’s musical achievements were judged devastatingly.
It wasn’t until much later that punk-musicians admitted to having used ideas from ABBA’s work occasionally. Among them, The Sex Pistols. Things were probably even more difficult in their home country. The cultural elite was being commanded by the socialists. According to them, making money was a dirty industry at the time.
The progressive music-movement Progg nagged the group on many occasions. Musicians who wanted to work with ABBA, were being made clear that they could forget about the rest of their career. According to Progg, any amateur-musician was far superior to professional artists who wanted to make a living with solid music-productions. Despite all this, ABBA broke one sales-record after the other in Sweden. In the end, Progg was proven wrong. A group of Progg-musicians was visiting Cuba, in the hopes of getting revolutionary ideas about leftwing-oriented music. But the first thing they heard were enthusiastic questions about... ABBA.

Carl Magnus Palm has written about ABBA before. For his ‘Bright Lights, Dark Shadows’, he completed all his accumulated knowledge with stories of people who were actively involved in the ABBA phenomenon in one way or the other. ABBA was going against the grain, is the point that Palm gets across. The commercial success was highly at odds with the conscience of the leftwing cultural elite. It caused a permanent, severe criticism on the group in their own country. It wasn’t until the eighties, when ABBA had long disbanded, that the group was being recognized for their musical achievements.
In other parts of the world, the group was being butchered as well, despite the sales-successes. Anyone who claimed to have any serious pretensions in pop-music, clashed with everything ABBA stood for. Still, all major stars were following the Swedish quartet’s productions closely. It all sounded so simple, but ABBA’s catalog is full of ingenious harmonies, extraordinary chord changes and groundbreaking studio techniques.
In the early nineties, U2’s Bono was one of the first rock-stars who openly declared his admiration for ABBA’s work. Kurt Cobain was an ardent fan of the group. R.E.M. has played ABBA-repertoire, The Lemonheads and The Fugees gave their own interpretations of ABBA-songs or sampled characteristic hooks from the arrangements. ABBA has definitely had its influence on pop-music, is what Palm reasons. Not so much because of the unbelievable sales-figures, but more because of their musical approach and achievements in production. “ABBA have taken their place as a classic act, although this immediately causes big problems for rock-historians,” according to Palm. “They still don’t manage to grant ABBA their rightful place in pop-history, because American or English roots are absent.”

Palm’s voluminous biography is exploring the lives of the four ABBA-members Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad extensively. All of them had been active in the Swedish music-industry for a considerable amount of time, albeit with varying success. In the early seventies, slowly but surely, ABBA started to evolve from that. It wasn’t a concept that was thought out in advance, the author makes clear. But the road to commercial success was planned carefully.
Manager and music-publisher Stig Anderson took care of that. He had made his way from poor slob to successful music-publisher and he wanted to show the rest of the world that a country like Sweden was capable of producing a world class act. With the help of the Eurovision Song Contest, he rocketed his group to the top.
Anderson was a controversial character in the Swedish music-business. He liked to see himself as the man at the top of what was to become a prominent business-empire. But the alcoholic manager made one mistake after the other and became the laughing-stock of the Swedish business-world. He died in 1997, stripped of all illusions he once cherished. Palm accurately describes the interferences of the man who was, according to him, undeservedly called the fifth ABBA-member. It’s an intriguing picture, just like he’s portraying the four group-members as ordinary people. Stripped of all the madness of their glory days, they turn out to be four vulnerable people with hot-tempered personalities, doubts and fears.

If there’s one thing that becomes clear from this biography, it’s that ABBA has lasted so long, against all odds. The enormous success was a big burden on the shoulders of the foursome. It resulted in intense confrontations. Not so much between the two singers, although this often has been claimed with firmness. But more between the two couples.
The four ABBA-members get to have their extensive say in this biography as well. Twenty years on, they’re looking back on that turbulent time with a refreshing insight. They elaborate on the reasons for the, for the fans unexpected, end in the early eighties. Anni-Frid Lyngstad doesn’t beat around the bush: “We were tired of each other. We had gone through so much with each other that the fun had disappeared.”

Friday 10 October 2008

Hitkrant, February 1981: Frida and Benny are getting a divorce

They had been living together for years, ABBA’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, when they decided to get married after all. That happened in 1978, secretly, but the marriage wouldn’t last for long: last week the couple decided to separate. ABBA consists of four singles again, instead of two couples.

According to reports from Stockholm, the decision to get divorced has been taken in all composure and agreement: “After serious consideration and with mutual agreement, we’ve decided to separate,” it is said. It was assured with emphasis that the decision will have no effect whatsoever on ABBA’s continued existence.

Already in 1979, we saw that ABBA’s activities don’t need to suffer because of the divorce of two group-members, when Björn and Agnetha went their separate ways. Besides, all plans are proceeding as usual: ABBA is busy with the recordings of a brand-new single that should be released at the end of March or the beginning of April. There will be no more singles lifted off the ‘Super Trouper’ album, except for ‘On And On And On’ that might be released as a single in Holland; March 3 is named as a possible date. Apart from that, Swedish and German television will produce an ABBA anniversary-TV-show together. After all, ABBA has now existed for 10 years and that’s going to be celebrated with a solid TV-special that will probably be hosted by the well-known American television-personality Dick Cavett. The special will be filled with live-recordings, films and interviews and recordings will start in April.

So there’s no need to be concerned: ABBA is very busy. The foursome has just returned from New York, where they oriented themselves on musicals and concerts (yet again, musical-plans?), and Benny and Björn are busy writing new musical material.
The results are excellent as well: the album ‘Super Trouper’ is breaking all sales-records. 1.700.000 copies in England, 800.000 in Germany, 400.000 in Canada, 550.000 in the USA. The single of the same name is not doing any less: one million copies sold in England, 450.000 in Germany, and the list goes on. ABBA goes on as well.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Pop Foto, May 1979: Finally, Agnetha could get things off her chest

A good friend is invaluable. That’s what ABBA’s Agnetha found out the past few, hectic, weeks. Her divorce from Björn, and the enormous publicity surrounding it, was causing problems for Agnetha, that she would love to talk over with a true, honest friend. But who? The solution came from an unexpected place...

Rattling telexes, shrill telephones ringing, stressed reporters, unexpected photographers showing up with their cameras ready, vicious rumours, false newspaper reports and sleepless nights. That’s what Agnetha’s life looked like, after everyone had been able to read everything about the ABBA-divorce. This was also the life that Agnetha hated, that sometimes clutched her throat and that she desperately tried to escape, of course to no avail.
Imagine that the whole world knows everything about your private life, and has more opinions about your personal thoughts than you. That your insecurities, your marital problems, yes, even your very own tears are being captured by cameras in a cold and ruthless way, while you are still full of problems, insecurities and questions, that you want to discuss with a woman. Not with your new boyfriend, or your ex-husband, and not even your mother, because she doesn’t know the music-business, that you are living in. Just a woman who wants to understand you, who wants to give you advice.
You hardly have girlfriends, when you’re way on top like Agnetha, and you’d rather bite your tongue than to confide in a journalist because then you’ll never know what you might read about yourself in the newspapers the next day...

That’s pretty much how Agnetha felt when Annifrid came by Agnetha’s new house in Stockholm, to talk about the outfits that had to be worn in the upcoming promotional films. Completely exhausted and her nerves worn to shreds, Agnetha tried to concentrate on her job, that had to continue, no matter how big her own problems were. Hopeless of course. Just as hopeless as trying to sort out her confused thoughts. Agnetha didn’t notice the fresh cup of coffee that Annifrid had put on the table for her, until the spicy aroma got through to her, and she discovered that friend whom she had longed for all this time, when Annifrid put her arm around Agnetha’s shoulder and quietly said that she understood perfectly well how lonely Agnetha felt. Hadn’t she, Annifrid, experienced such a painful divorce as well? Hadn’t she had as much worries about her two children, about what the newspapers were writing, and what their friends said?
The photographs of the outfits were tossed aside, the kettle was put on for more coffee, the children were sent to their playroom... and Agnetha found out that the lively, always a little distant Annifrid, was exactly the friend that she needed. Just to talk to, to find understanding with someone who knew her life like no other, to be able to discuss women’s issues, that Annifrid understood much better than Agnetha had thought. It was an enormous relief for Agnetha and it gave her new confidence in her future and ABBA’s future, that obviously doesn’t thrive on contracts alone, but above all on people!

Sunday 5 October 2008

Hitkrant, 1982: Frida's divorce doesn't endanger ABBA

“Sweden had become a real madhouse for me,” ABBA’s red-haired singer Frida sighs. “Everything I did was being closely watched by everyone. A real private life had become impossible for me. You could say that I escaped from Sweden to England. Fortunately, among others, my good friend Phil Collins accommodated me understandingly.”

Frida managed to sell her shares in the ABBA-empire, just before they started to go down spectacularly on the stock market. As a matter of fact, she’s now the richest member of the famous quartet, although the other members still don’t have anything to complain either. So, she’s a shrewd business-woman?
“I’ve been asked that question more often,” Frida smiles, “but that’s not how it is at all. I just left Sweden head-over-heels because life had become unbearable for me over there. After my divorce from Benny, I haven’t had one minute of peace and quiet. That’s when I decided to sell my shares in the ABBA-company as well, because otherwise I would have been forced to travel back and forth. So that’s it, I was just lucky!”
She’s now clearly avoiding public attention and has gone into hiding in England on a secret address. Why?
“For the past few years I’ve lived in a house of glass,” she says. “Especially during the time of my divorce from Benny, it was awful. We had enough problems as it was, also because we stayed together as long as possible because we didn’t want to damage ABBA’s image. When a lot of people started to interfere with our business as well, it obviously turned into a hell. At my new residence I’ve finally found peace.”
Phil Collins has divorced his wife recently as well, and he accommodated Frida especially well when she arrived in England. Could Phil be more than just a friend?
“Certainly not,” Frida answers. “He helped me a great deal with the recordings of ‘Something’s Going On’, but he’s definitely not more than a good friend and a respected colleague. I can tell you that my new love is a French business-man, who I’ve met in Paris. But I really can’t reveal his name. He wouldn’t have a moment of peace if I did!”
Doesn’t Frida think that ABBA is slowly falling apart, now the members of the group have grown apart artistically, emotionally, as well as financially?
“Up ‘til now we’ve been sufficiently professional to overcome all problems, and I think that will remain this way in the future. We will probably not tour again together, but records of the complete ABBA are a definite possibility. The fact that I’m divorced from Benny or have my money in a different bank doesn’t mean that I couldn’t work with him any longer.”

Saturday 4 October 2008

Veronica, 1983: Agnetha wraps her arms around you

This Sunday, Veronica is paying special attention to Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA’s charming blonde. Not without success, she has released a valuable solo album. With only one self-written track: the title-track ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’, a request that won’t be easily denied.

Frida chose a rock-producer, Phil Collins; Agnetha went for pop-producer Michael Chapman for her solo album.
Veronica: Why?
Agnetha: “I had two producers at the top of my wish list: Barry Gibb and Chapman. Gibb is fully booked for at least two more years. So I went for Chapman. I know and admire his work. Indeed, Collins is more rock-oriented. I think he’s more suitable for Frida than for me.”
Veronica: Why a solo project? You hate to travel and you’ve only contributed one, albeit very lovely, song.
Agnetha: “This is my first own project since I’m with ABBA. Before that, I recorded a lot of albums as a solo artist. All of those were very successful in Scandinavia. This time, I didn’t feel the need to compose. There were sufficient good songs as it was. There was no urge to compose myself. I hate to travel because I don’t want to leave my children for too long. I did indeed do some promotion, but not much. This time, I don’t have to follow the rules of the group. I can decide for myself how long I want to be away from home. And how often.”
Veronica: Do you have the feeling that you sacrificed a lot for ABBA?
Agnetha: “Of course, but that’s not meant to be a complaint. With ABBA, the interest of the group always comes first. As an individual, you have to put up with that. And that’s not always easy. But I’ve made that decision consciously and I owe my wealth to the group.”
Veronica: You’re still Europe’s most desired blonde. What do you think about that?
Agnetha: “On the one hand, it’s a compliment, on the other hand, I don’t understand much of it. I get marriage proposals from men who know me only from pictures. I suppose they project their dreams on me. They know the exterior, but make up the personality themselves.”
Veronica: Does that personality disappoint in reality?
Agnetha: “I think I’m an average woman. I’m more homely than mundane. I don’t care much for being a star. I don’t feel like a star or sex-symbol. I’m also a little insecure. That’s why I often come across as being distant. When I really get to know someone, I’m much more spontaneous.”
Veronica: What aspect of your success is the least appealing?
Agnetha: “The intrusion on my private life by the media. I often feel threatened by that. And my children have to be protected to a greater extent.”
Veronica: How is your relationship with your ex-husband at the moment?
Agnetha: “As well as can be expected, considering the circumstances. We treat each other with respect.”
Veronica: We were once afraid that your divorce would mean the end of ABBA.
Agnetha: “A lot has been written about that, yes. But the group didn’t have to suffer because of our private problems.”
Veronica: Do the solo projects delay a new ABBA-album?
Agnetha: “No, absolutely not. We’ve decided to work separately for a year. Björn and Benny are involved in a lot of projects. Frida and I didn’t want to sit still.”
Veronica: And after that, solo albums again? Or do you have other goals?
Agnetha: “I like to act. I’ve made a movie in Sweden. A nice experience.”
Veronica: Are you going to appear on Dallas?
Agnetha: “Not that I know of. By the way, I don’t want to go to America either.”
Veronica: Did you have someone special in mind when you wrote ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’. Or does a simple journalist stand a chance as well?
Agnetha: “Comedian.”