Sunday 23 March 2014

Hitkrant, 1977: ABBA doesn't get it for free!

So ABBA has made the giant step: from a recording act to a touring group. Their successful concert in Amsterdam was followed by a tour in the United Kingdom and that was the start of a somewhat risky venture. There have been several pop groups that sold millions of records, but that were completely exposed when they took to the stage. But ABBA didn't fail!

Still the British music journalists weren't completely ecstatic about ABBA's London performance: although they didn't have much criticism about the Swedish quartet's musical achievements, the show itself was deemed cold and distant. The audience on the other hand was overwhelmed, not least due to the fact that ABBA proved to be able to recreate their hits note by note on stage. Without any tricks.

Björn and Benny were very nervous before the tour started. Indeed, a lot was depending on it; ABBA wants to achieve a breakthrough in the US and the tour has done a lot of good in that respect. The show had been carefully thought out, whereby the mini-musical 'The Girl With The Golden Hair' was an important segment. Manager Stig Anderson didn't leave anything to chance and once again that meant an organization that seemed to resemble a military operation. Everything that ABBA does, is done with ultimate care.

It's not just the fact that Stig (meanwhile he is called ABBA's fifth member already), Björn and Benny are such excellent composers, lyric writers and producers, or that Agnetha and Frida are looking great and the group as a whole is delivering such perfect records that for instance in the UK every tenth family owns an ABBA record; apart from that there is a complete machine that's running flawlessly behind the scenes.

In the meantime, ABBA is indeed turning into a living legend. But Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha surely don't get it for free: the fact that 'Dancing Queen' stormed into the American top ten a couple of weeks ago is the result of tremendous hard work, endless rehearsals, writing, rewriting and a lot of talking. "We simply want to try to come up with something new every time," says Stig. "Hence that mini-musical, hence the movie that we are working on and for which the first recordings have been made in London already. And furthermore, we think everything is terribly exciting in the music business."

And so ABBA goes on! With making records, writing, performing and coming up with new things. In between all these proceedings Frida still has a complete solo career on the side: she is recording her own records that are unfortunately only released in Sweden and are extremely successful over there. One of them - 'Frida Ensam' - is filled with Swedish-language cover versions of world famous songs like 10CC's 'Wall Street Shuffle' and 'Life On Mars' by David Bowie. In comparison, that album is just as successful in Sweden as the ABBA albums are all over the world!

Once again: the group has to work hard for it. But the quartet doesn't mind that. "Two years ago, no one could have imagined that such a sensation could come from Sweden," says Stig Anderson. "But it turns out that good music is not restricted to a certain country. In this business anything can happen..."