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ABBA (Official Thread)

Discussion in '70's Music' started by METALPRIEST, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. billyporter

    billyporter Senior Member

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    a fantastic version of super trouper by kiwi band headless chickens. can't get that chorus out of my mind.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2012
  2. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Re: The Official ABBA Thread

    At first I didn't understand what you meant BP...but it's 5,000,000 copies sold in the U.K. that puts them with the Beatles Sgt. Pepper and Queen's Greatest Hits.

    I am somewhat surprised, and would have thought many bands had reached that milestone in England...:hm:

    But that also explains why almost every rock band/pop artist on the planet wants to penetrate the U.S. market, if you are popular there then the sales will almost equal your worldwide market.

    I enjoy ABBA once in a while, but like you I consider them a singles band, and they had an actual "formula" they followed when recording their songs. Must have worked they were Sweden's greatest export for a long time.
     
  3. Clash0

    Clash0 Junior Member

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    Not rock but a great group. They have many beautiful songs.
     
  4. silverstar

    silverstar Member

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    Abba ruled the 70s
    .... a bit like the Beatles ruled the 60s ....

    (not sure who ruled the 80s )
     
  5. Hurdy Gurdy Man

    Hurdy Gurdy Man Senior Member

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    Madonna,I guess,if anybody.And yes,many of the Abba hits will probably stand the test of time as successfully as many Beatles tunes.High,well executed production values and,of course,vitally potent material as well as some of the best pop vocal harmonies ever,in league with the Beach Boys and Bee Gees.
     
  6. Womble

    Womble Junior Member

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    I haven't read the full thread yet s apologies if I am repeating what others have said. ABBA were a phenomenal band and my favourite of all time. The songwriting on Ulvaeus and Anderson was incomparable, better than anyone IMO. in fact, one of the reasons I like Judas Priest so much (my fave metal band) is because they seemed to approach songwriting with ABBA's ear for melody.

    Then Anderson - the real genius of the two - took the band to the next level with his production values and arrangements - requiring technology to be advanced just so he can lay down all the tracks he heard in his head (in songs like Take a Chance On Me, where an instrument is heard only once in a verse and for a split second, you understand, as crazy as it sounds, how the song would suffer without it. He didn't just add things for the sake of it). He also wasn't a slave to technology - he could distill the brilliance and melody of those mega-layered tracks into a single piano piece and they slay you, shining with class, as effortlessly as a Dave Gilmour solo. Quick examples would be the little piano motif at the end of One Man, One Woman just after the electronic violins kick in. Another would be the piano demo of Slipping Through My Fingers.

    Finally, throw in the singers who, despite "only" singing what was written for them, had fantastic range and timbre and individuality - complementing each other just as brilliantly as Dave Murray and Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden.

    The thing that really stands out is the melodious wonder of the songs. Before I got into them, I dismissed them as just like the stage-managed pop puppets I grew up with: easy songs, simple melodies, time-honoured chord progressions, playing it safe. Unfortunately, I have read many comments in this thread that echo the same but how wrong I was! They spanned genres - kickstarting more than a few - and spanned keys and chord progressions, and intricate & complex melodies/vocals without batting an eyelid. And despite all this - they still sounded phenomenally catchy. And that was when their brilliance started to dawn on me - that they could write such contrasting, experimental, musically-challenging stuff and yet make it so infectious that it sounded simple. In fact, the main reason for my command of music theory today is ABBA. They were eye-opening and brain-melting at the same time. :D

    Sure, the lyrics weren't great on their first few albums but they were foreigners and they still don't suck as bad as some bands who speak English as a native language, but it's always about the music with me. Eg: YMCA is a great song no matter how frivolous the lyrics. It does it's job perfectly. Music snobs and Dylan fans (not attacking Dylan, BTW) may turn their nose up but music is about melody. Deep, introspective lyrics alone mean nothing (and all too many are just descents into pretentiousness). Yet they still wrote some deeply eloquent and moving lyrics: Knowing Me, Knowing You, My Love, My Life, Dance While the Music Still Goes On, I've Been Waiting For You, The Winner Takes It All.

    Speaking of their first few albums, for those who dismiss ABBA as "naff" and "pop", you'll hear rock-based tracks like So Long, Watch Out and Hey Helen. And wwhilst not giving Motorhead any nightmares, to be on a pop album in the mid 70s, it's damn edgy! In fact, there's a lot of rock guitar underpinning their music - Knowing Me, Knowing You is a great example. Then there's the Bach-esque S.O.S which somehow turns a dark, classical verse into an upbeat pop song. Also throw Benny's piano piece Intermezzo No. 1. Or how about the Beach Boys surf-pop of When I Kissed the Teacher?

    They went from standard pop to country, to rock, to big band, to Spanish-flavoured themes, to blues, to country-rock, to disco, to new wave. You can't define ABBA by a sound or a genre. For every genteel and inoffensive Hasta Manana and Dum Dum Diddle that your gran will love there's an in-yer-face, sexy rock drive of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A man after midnight) (the live '70 version rocks!) and Get On (the Carousel). And for every rocker like that is a dark, brooding track like I'm a Marionette and The Piper (which was a warning against allowing the likes of Hitler to rise again). Throw in the frivolous disco of Voulez Vous, the 50s vibe of Ricky Rockarolla and the totally kickarse mindfuck and misleading intro of [IbSummer Nights City[/b] which did the "we'll start slowly and then surprise everyone by bursting in with driving rock" shtick a good ten years before the thrash bands of the 80s and you have an extremely diverse band. And this is without breaking down their songs to showcase the stunning and varied structures and arrangements. They even re-genred their own music - such as the disco and piano ballad versions of When All Is Said and Done. And I'll never cease to be amazed at Benny effortessly fusing 15th medieval-esque riffery with driving rock as he did with Gimme!

    And if nothing else, there's the impossibly gorgeous Agnetha (and her luscious backside).

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    To listen to ABBA is a journey into music itself - all genres, all styles. Male vocals, female, dual vocals. Light and frothy to dark and mysterious. Simple structure (Why Did it Have To Be Me) to dizzyingly complex (Take A Chance On Me). And to truly appreciate them you have to listen to them on headphones. Only then can you begin to hear the majesty of the production. In fact, it's a crime to listen to them without headphones as you don't get the 3D effect, can't hear the placing of the instrumentation in the mix, and will miss out on so much. There's no direct rock comparison that is so intricate but Appetite for Destruction springs to mind in that only via headphones o you clearly hear two distinct and completely different guitar tracks for each song and it's amazing how these two guitar pieces that sound nothing like the song you know come together to form the brilliant melody that you do recognise.

    You also get to see ABBA reinvent themselves - usually with gutsy, blues-driven rock - as they did with the live versions of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Hole in Your Soul, Tiger and Does Your Mother Know.

    To finish I will suggest a couple of IMP stunning tracks that rarely get a mention that I hope, I hope, will open the eyes and ears for the rockers here who are yet to be convinced (and welcome treats for those who are).


    DANCE (WHILE THE MUSIC STILL GOES ON)


    Not only do I love the ever changing, rolling chorus but the modulation towards the end, along with the ever-increasing orchestration and vocals (sounding like a 100-strong choir) just continuously pushes the song into the stratosphere. It's also notable for it's very adult and poignant lyrics regarding a breakup. Not your usual "I miss you, baby" or "I hate you, baby"


    I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU


    I wanted to post the outstanding live '77 version but all the good versions are just too short. Such a heartfelt and passionate ballad that is catchy yet sweeping and epic in its scale. Would make a dazzling hard rock cover. Probably by Queensryche :D


    SLIPPING THROUGH MY FINGERS (INSTRUMENTAL DEMO)

    Words can't say anymore. Just listen tot he majesty of the arrangement and melody - even though it's mainly just Benny on his organ (fnarr, fnarr).
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  7. Womble

    Womble Junior Member

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    Also, here are some killer metal covers. It should be noted that the best covers are those that play the songs straight and treat them with reverence.

    Also, here are some killer metal covers. It should be noted that the best covers are those that play the songs straight and treat them with reverence.

    EAGLE



    SUPER TROUPER



    THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL
     
  8. Womble

    Womble Junior Member

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    I just caught this:

    In no way did they have a formula, Benny and Bjorn were constantly pushing the boundaries and experimenting and as I explained in my previous posts, covered much ground and man genres, instrumentally and compositionally. To see them as a singles band is to do them a gross disservice. Bjorn and Benny never approached their writing that way. The commercial drive of the cynical pop producer - get hot chicks and follow this formula for success to bash out 5 singles and we'll top the album up with filler - was not theirs. They were one of the few bands to sit atop the pop mountain who were an album band first and foremost with single success being a nice treat. You cannot argue with the sheer brilliance of Dancing Queen and The Winner Takes It All but their singles success often meant many gold nuggets were overlooked (IMO the include Arrival, Another Town Another Train, Move On, Our Last Summer.

    Of course, people think what they want and I've written enough but I urge anyone who thinks they were a singles band with a formula to have a rethink, whether they like the music or not.
     
  9. Womble

    Womble Junior Member

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    Absolute dross. Clearly speaking with no knowledge of their compositions.

    They experimented with them on a few tracks, mainly as the 80s dawned, but were primarily a live instrument band.
     
  10. Hurdy Gurdy Man

    Hurdy Gurdy Man Senior Member

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    Perhaps this states the obvious,but I must say "ABBA GOLD" is absolutely essential to fanatics of seventies(and a bit of early '80's)top forty pop.Marvelous vocal arrangements.I heard that at one time,sales of their music were SO huge,they actually factored significantly into the gross natuional product of Sweden.Amazing...........
     

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