As a young, male, red-blooded rock music fan I absolutely hated ABBA when I was younger. I may have not know what they sounded like outside of their biggest hits, but I knew I hated them, because their songs were so damn catchy, girls like them, and didn’t they win Eurovision?
So I must say I am kind of surprise at how much rock muscle there is being (some of) this record. That’s not to say that it’s rock music – it’s still very, very poppy – but there’s an actual band which sometimes employs electric guitars and even the odd guitar solo! Colour me surprised. (I guess I had never actually listened to ABBA with any kind of concentration.)
But I do find that ABBA, at least on this record, is very much a singles band. The catchiest songs here are the hits and the other material is, well, less catchy and, unless you’re into inoffensive pop rock, not particularly compelling otherwise. I do admire their attempt to write a mini-musical (foreshadowing!) but the problem with its partial inclusion on the second side of the record is that there is an entirely different vibe to those last few songs – they do indeed sound as if they belong in an American musical (not a great one) rather than on a very ’70s pop album. The change is kind of jarring and, though it might have worked with better songs or a little more idiosyncrasy, it is not a strength of the record.
But I must say that I don’t hate this and I was really, really expecting to.
All tracks written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, except where noted.
- “Eagle” 5:51
- “Take a Chance on Me” 4:05
- “One Man, One Woman” 4:33
- “The Name of the Game” Andersson, Stig Anderson, Ulvaeus 4:54
- “Move On” Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus 4:42
- “Hole in Your Soul” 3:41
- The Girl With the Golden Hair: Three Scenes From a Mini-Musical:
- “Thank You for the Music” 3:48
- “I Wonder (Departure)” Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus 4:33
- “I’m a Marionette”
- Agnetha Fältskog – vocals
- Anni-Frid Lyngstad – vocals
- Björn Ulvaeus – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals, backing vocals
- Benny Andersson – keyboards, synthesizers, vocals, backing vocals
- Ola Brunkert – drums
- Lars O. Carlsson – flute, saxophone
- Malando Gassama – percussion
- Rutger Gunnarsson – bass
- Roger Palm – drums (on “Take a Chance on Me”, “One Man, One Woman”, and “Thank You For the Music”)
- Janne Schaffer – lead guitar (on “Eagle”)