Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Oor, January 1978: ABBA - The Album album review

A review of ABBA - The Album from Dutch magazine Oor. From the opening lines, you can tell that writers of so-callled serious magazines were slightly embarrassed to review an ABBA-album, as if it was a chore that nobody wanted to do.
Since I was the only reviewer who had the guts to put ‘Arrival’ in my year list – and that takes some courage, you might not be taken seriously any longer as a serious writer – I was given the honour to review ‘The Album’ by Swedish teeny-bopper group ABBA. Like some may have thought, it wasn’t a corny joke, therefore we’re going to review the record seriously.
Everyone in the record industry, from label manager to producer, is drooling like Pavlov’s dog on hearing ABBA’s name, because it’s synonymous with success. As a phenomenon, Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid (that’s ABBA) are more influential and sociologically speaking just as interesting as the whole punk and new wave movement together. Time and time again, ABBA knows how to combine catchy music and lyrics with an exceptionally refined show of the ladies, that gives children glowing hands and moist eyes and dad a hard-on, however without mum realising that this might be caused by the prominently (well) swaying asses of the blonde and the dark one. I mean... what else could you wish for!
The often heard exclamation that the ladies can’t sing isn’t relevant either, because it’s all about the complete package, and apart from that, technically speaking they’re still head and shoulders above a similar singer like Deborah Harry, the empty-headed blonde that seems to have so many hidden qualities.
‘The Album’ has been released almost simultaneously with the feature film (‘The Movie’) and just a little while after the book about ABBA, a case of clever business insight of the man behind the scenes, Stig Anderson. I don’t know if these simultaneous projects are the reason, but it’s a fact that ‘The Album’ will easily exceed the already gigantic sales figures of ‘Arrival’. The lyrics are obviously superficial, but that’s how they should be, to appeal to the masses. Apart from ‘The Name Of The Game’, Stig Anderson is responsible for two other lyrics on this album, that clearly stand out compared to the others. Just like ‘Arrival’, ‘The Album’ is produced to perfection and full of potential hits. The strong aspect of most of the songs is that you can sing along to them effortlessly after playing them twice. Isn’t recognizability the pillar of every commercial product?
The three songs from the mini-musical ‘The Girl With The Golden Hair’ are disappointing, because they are a much too obvious pile of clichés from ‘Tommy’, ‘Hair’, ‘Evita’ and other, more traditional musicals. But that’s not the worst part; especially in songs like ‘Thank You For The Music’ and ‘I Wonder’ they are trying to give the music a profundity that the group doesn’t have. It remains a phenomenon of the biggest common divisor and its qualities are to be found in its broadness. Their so-called deeper feelings are plastic and adolescent, not even Clearasil or DDD will fix that. Luckily, this quasi-sensitivity remains limited to the pretentious musical. The rest is of a standing that will give any hit producer wet dreams every night and in the morning a hangover at the thought that they will have to make do with Guys And Dolls, Teach In, Champagne and Brotherhood Of Man.

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