Sunday, 12 April 2009

De Telegraaf, November 1982: Ten years of ABBA!

A recap of ten years of ABBA's success in Holland, published in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf in November 1982. The advert for the The Singles album is from Dutch magazine Hitkrant.
No one thought it would be possible but the group ABBA is still alive and kicking. Last year, it seemed as if the (except for the Beatles) most famous group ever had gotten the worst of it: both couples that had formed ABBA had separated, Frida as well as Agnetha cautiously started a solo career – and in Frida’s case not without success – and the guys offered their composing services to Sir Tim Rice, creator of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Evita’, to collaborate on a new world-class masterpiece.
But no worries. The phenomenal success of the single ‘The Day Before You Came’, perhaps also caused by the promotional film in which a master’s hand has evenly mixed sadness and pathos, and the meanwhile in the bubbling under lists charting ‘Under Attack’, prove that ABBA is alive and kicking. This weekend, German television even managed to persuade the foursome to take their own plane from Stockholm to Saarbrücken to perform three new songs live in the studio, in front of a completely ecstatic audience. We might even call that a historical performance.
ABBA’s record company didn’t sit still either. They have calculated that it’s exactly ten years ago that Björn, Benny, Anna and Frida, like they were called at the time, started their intense career and on that occasion, the album ‘ABBA – The Singles (The First Ten Years)’ has been released recently, which includes all the hits from 1973 up to the present, including ‘The Day Before You Came’ and ‘Under Attack’. A total of twenty-two hits!

How it all started with ABBA is fairly known by now. The single ‘Ring Ring’ was the first one that could be seen on our, if I remember correctly NCRV, screen and the television viewer was taken by surprise. Although the song peaked at number five in the charts, Holland would soon let go of its illustrious attitude of ‘let’s wait and see which way the cat jumps’ and after that rewarded the young Swedes generously by sending virtually every single to the top of the charts. And not only our country was conquered: after the appearance of the foursome, by that time renamed ABBA, at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, they were unstoppable. With ease, ‘Waterloo’ scored off the songs by competitors such as Gigliola Cinquetti, Olivia Newton-John and Mouth & McNeal, and all European doors opened, including the ones behind the Iron Curtain. The successor ‘Honey, Honey’ sold more than two million copies, in 1975 followed by ‘I Do, I Do, I Do’, ‘So Long’, ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’, each selling four million (!) copies.
At that stage, their biggest hits were yet to come. In the second half of the seventies, ABBA seemed to have found the definitive recipe for making hits, including promoting them with the help of an own director. In 1976, this resulted in the monster hits ‘Fernando’, ‘Money, Money, Money’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ (all of them number one in our country).
Especially ‘Fernando’, that would later be used as a blueprint for the Unicef-present ‘Chiquitita’, turned out be a bull’s eye. It sold six million copies around the world.
And we could continue like this for a while longer: ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’, ‘The Name Of The Game’, ‘Take A Chance On Me’, ‘Summer Night City’, ‘Chiquitita’, ‘Does Your Mother Know’, ‘Voulez-Vous’ and ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’, all of them strongly influenced by disco, followed by the more melodic ‘I Have A Dream’, the severely autobiographical ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Super Trouper’.
It wasn’t until a year later that ‘One Of Us’ appeared (just like the previous three good for a number one spot in the charts), simultaneously with the release of the (eleventh) album ‘The Visitors’.
ABBA’s twelfth album – we already mentioned its title – is now in the shops and as it seems it won’t be the last one.

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