Sunday, 7 March 2010

Story, July 1979: An ultimate intervention has to save ABBA: Björn and Benny are not allowed to sing any longer

Here’s another 1979 article inspired by the rumour that ABBA would continue as a duo.
ABBA is going through difficult times. Manager Stig Anderson thinks that he’ll be able to turn the tide with an ultimate intervention: Benny and Björn will have to make way...

Connoisseurs have been predicting this for a long time: ABBA seems to turn into a successful, almost perfectly oiled music machine, that in the long run will only be able to supply very predictable (and therefore boring) products.
Manager Stig Anderson, the ABBA boss who is ruling with an iron fist, has now acknowledged this danger as well. The group is in desperate need of a new impulse. A meticulously placed load of gunpowder that can inspire the twosome Björn and Benny to more than a string of unimaginative variations on a successful blueprint or an equally uninspired adoption of the disco craze.
In short: ABBA will have to alter their course. Simply because a continuation of their current course will inevitably lead to the loss of connection with other (established or new) top groups. Anderson seems to think that he has found the solution. For that matter, he has the idea to let Björn and Benny keep on writing the ABBA songs, but not have them performing them any longer. No more exhausting performances, no more long days of recording sessions and no more television work. In the future, all of the gentlemen’s attention will be aimed at creating quality products.

In the ABBA studios, they are already working very hard on this new formula. From now on, only Agnetha and Anni-Frid will be on stage or appear on television screens. Musically, they will be accompanied by studio musicians or an orchestra, hired for the specific occasion. It seems like a drastic change, but it isn’t really. No one could or would deny that the girls made up 90 percent of the show, no matter what performance it concerned. Björn and Benny were (at least to the eye) redundant. That’s why Stig Anderson hopes that no one will miss them when they will no longer be present in the flesh.
Not only the (moderate) decline in popularity is a reason for the sudden urge for change. Björn and Agnetha’s divorce is playing a part as well. Just think about it: the former spouses hardly look at each other anymore in everyday life. It can’t be avoided that the image of the group has to suffer from these strained relations. In other words: Björn and Agnetha are having a very hard time to keep on ‘faking it’.

The danger that ABBA will lose their grip on the record-buying public, the decreasing productivity of the composers duo and the mental tensions within the group. All in all, reason enough for Stig Anderson to change his course. Once more, ABBA will present themselves in their well-known line up. At the end of this year, the group will start a tour through America and the Eastern bloc countries. The tour will end with a series of concerts in Scandinavia. You could call it a farewell tour. Not a farewell to ABBA, but to the group that, after winning the Eurovision Song Contest, conquered the world with striking, easy accessible melodies.
The name ABBA will keep existing. And rightfully so, since the four people that donated the first letter of their first name to the group will all remain involved in their creation. Still, ABBA will be a duo from now on. The only one who seems to have a problem with that is Anni-Frid. She expects to be separated from Benny regularly (and for long periods of time).
But when the new approach turns out to be a success, Anni-Frid will probably let go of her reservations as well. Because also for the duo ABBA, private problems will have to take a backseat to the greater, almost sacred cause: maintaining their position at the top of the international hit scene.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that didn't happen as a Bjorn fan I would not have liked it and it would'nt be Abba anymore without him He's the one I notice on their videos and tv shows.
I would have lost interset.

Ivana said...

The content might often be rubbish, but the pictures are first class! Michel, thanks again for all these articles and pictures, especially the one with Agnetha and Frida at the press conference!