ABBA is the eponymously-titled third studio album by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was originally released on 21 April 1975 through Polar Music.
Following the Eurovision success of "Waterloo", ABBA saw the band gaining worldwide recognition. "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" topped the charts in Australia, as did "Mamma Mia" shortly after. "SOS" and "Mamma Mia" became hits in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and two of its most famous songs. The album saw ABBA dabble into reggae with "Tropical Loveland" and includes a grand pseudo-classical keyboard instrumental in the traditions of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman with "Intermezzo No. 1" (originally entitled "Mama").
ABBA was first released on CD in Japan in 1986, with an alternative mix of "Man in the Middle" not found on any subsequent CD pressing. " ABBA was then released on CD in West Germany in 1987 (later released internationally), with five bonus tracks of songs from Waterloo and Ring Ring, which had not been released on CD at that time. ABBA was released on CD in Sweden in 1988 featuring the original 11 tracks only. The album has been reissued in digitally remastered form three times; first in 1997, then in 2001 and again in 2005 as part of The Complete Studio Recordings box set.
In April 1975, ABBA were worried that the heady days were over. Waterloo, their song about one girl's surrender in the battle of love, had won the Eurovision Contest 12 long months earlier. Reviews of the group had been positive – even Rolling Stone had said they were putting “new life into... cartoon pop” – but recent UK singles had flopped, and tours were not selling out.
Time then, for a difficult third album featuring reggae, prog, rock and funk, and somewhere in the middle, a giddy SOS. “Here I go again,” the first track begins. How could we resist them?
At first, it's odd to think that this was the album that broke Sweden's biggest band. ABBA dashes from genre to genre, but has a few massive hits in the middle. Mamma Mia is now so familiar it's like a nursery rhyme. That chirpy marimba and that chorus – the hooks keeping coming and coming – are now a vital part of pop's DNA.
Inside them, we find one of ABBA's trademark sad, layered stories, bubbly and joyous to the ear, but full of darker details about “slammed doors”, and an “angry and sad” woman that's “not that strong”. Lyrical depth and shiny surfaces: here are ABBA, early on, refining their magical formula.
This gets repeated elsewhere, with mixed results. Hey, Hey Helen begins with crunchy guitars before shocking with the tale of a woman that's left her husband and children. Bang-A-Boomerang and I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do stick to bouncier pop, the former brimming with advice about compromise within marriage, the latter using the wedding declaration to mask lyrics teeming with insecurity.
Then they play with sound. Tropical Loveland's pop-reggae crossover shows forward-thinking but little in way of fabulousness; Intermezzo No 1's Yes-style synth-opus is ridiculous, but occasionally rewarding. Rock Me's late entry into the glam canon suits the band better, Björn's screechin'-and-a-squealin' providing particular pleasures.
ABBA-doubters will be pleasantly surprised to find the band's desire to experiment here. If that's you, breathe deep and plunge into their back catalogue – there's plenty more depth to explore. Long-term fans will enjoy the accompanying DVD, and be reminded of an interesting juncture in the quartet's career. As they tilted between failure and success, they threw everything into the mix. Before long, they would have the whole world in front of them. User Comments