Books about ABBA and related subjects

ABBA biographies, musical examinations and pictorial surveys

Fan reviews

published May 04, 2017

One of the main objectives in doing the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions was to create a book for ABBA fans who are truly interested in the group's recording history. As few compromises as possible, was the motto, and let the text and the information be the "stars" of this volume. I also wanted it to be good-looking, and was more than fortunate to have my ace designer Maria Nicholas offering her services.

That said, you can never be entirely certain how your book's going to be received, so I'm pleased to report that reactions so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Here, for example, is a review by fan Edward Russell that was so detailed and insightful that I felt it deserved to be published in its entirety.

And, throwing modesty completely to the wind, below are extracts from comments made in social media, in email messages to me, and in The Official International ABBA Fan Club magazine. To say that I'm moved and grateful is something of an understatement. Thanks, everyone, for your support during the making of the book and your lovely messages after it's been published!


"I read with great interest the excerpt from your book on icethesite a few days ago. I can honestly say that if this is anything to go by then the book should be a fantastic treat for us fans. I found it, of course, interesting but also very easy to read which I imagine was not easy to achieve as it must, by necessity, contain so much factual information as well as being accessible for the reader."

"I have just read the 1977 chapter. Love it. It's been great to learn more about One Man, One Woman and the lyrics for Hole In Your Soul. Your descriptions: wow. It's like I can hear them."

"I briefly had a look through the 1977 chapter as well but quickly decided to start at the very beginning. It's a great read so far."

"I'm totally engrossed! It really is a joy - I'm reading the essays first (just finished the one about recording the backing tracks), and they're just so informative."

"I had the first edition and it was a treasure trove. Have reached 1973 so far and the revised edition is even better than I had hoped for."

"This forensic, meticulously researched book is essential reading - not just for Abba fans but for anyone who loves pop."

"I'm loving the updated version of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. It's like reading a brand new book about ABBA."

"I just wanted to say congratulations on the new book - I am completely engrossed as I never read the first edition - the detail is fantastic!"

"I feel like Moses taking hold of the Ten Commandments! My holy book has finally arrived - I need no other teachings or words of wisdom for at least the next 12 months!! It's all in this beautiful, beautiful volume of precious words."

"I received my copy yesterday and can't put it down."

"My oh my... I feel like when I first listened to the ARRIVAL Album (at the age of eight) when I read your book."

"I read a lot of 'rock' books. I loved the first edition, but this is quantum leap in quality."

"It is truly a joy both to look at and to read. I am completely engrossed as I write this! I am indeed in ABBA heaven!"

"Last night I felt like a kid in a candy store. I started out reading the foreword (felt like a very precious moment). Then I couldn't hold it together any longer. I threw myself into it. I wanted to read about 'Waterloo', about 'Dancing Queen', about... Suddenly I was reading about the Mellotron! Well, you get the picture. Then I ended up in one of the last entries of the book and made a shocking discovery... Reading this book will be such an amazing experience! You'll get it all, and then some more."

"It's really super. Nice layout (I love Maria's work) and great research."

"Enjoying the book so much!! Although it's tempting to skip ahead I'm reading from the beginning and am currently on the 1972 section. Only a short way into the book but this evening I've already had the answer revealed to something I've often wondered and never thought I would get the answer to. Can't wait for what is yet to come!!"

"I'm dipping into the book, starting with my favourite ABBA songs (which are If It Wasn't For the Nights, Move On, That's Me and I let the Music Speak). Then a particular stage which very much interests me - the difficulties they had creating songs they were happy with for Voulez Vous. I've also read two essays: 'Recording the vocals' and 'Overdubbing and mixing'. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and once again deriving great pleasure from the author's considerable skill with the English language, which is up to the standard of the most skilled native speaker non-fiction writers."

"It is very likely the best ABBA book ever - and your biggest success as a writer."

"The overall look and feel of the book is superb. Great work by all involved and highly recommended."

"It looks great: lovely pictures, etc. And very detailed of course, the bible for every serious ABBA fan. I will be immersing myself in the next few days with this book and every ABBA lp and single on my turntable."

"I know I'm probably echoing what everyone else has already said and you've heard so many times, but I received my ABBA book: well worth the wait!  I've started reading it, much more detail than the original all those years ago which I remember buying and loving then too."

"An excellent layout job! (And the writing is good, too, and the research is impressively well done!)"

"Received the book on Monday. Been absorbing it since, great read. Thank you so much. Love the images from recording Waterloo in January 1974."

"I only want to let you know how HAPPY I am. Your long-awaited book arrived today and I already love it! It looks and feels like a masterpiece. And after having had a few glimpses into a few chapters, I already think that the contents are also a true masterpiece. Thank you for having created this wonderful jewel!  I already know that your book will be amongst the top 5 most loved and treasured books of my life."

"You have - again - done a wonderful job my friend!"

"I've been glued to the new book since I got home yesterday and found it on my doorstep. I think Carl Magnus Palm has always done more to rehabilitate the group's reputation than anyone else, ever. The deadly serious analysis, the indepth research and the intricate and intimate details make this a technical manual for detractors or anyone curious about ABBA's contribution to popular music. This new encyclopedia, gorgeously crafted by Carl Magnus and enriched by Maria Nicholas's vision has real gravitas, and I've never been more sure of the band's genius than I am at present."

"A work of art on every level. Thank you Carl Magnus Palm and Maria Nicholas."

"Thank you Carl Magnus Palm: at just a glance of this musical Abba tome, I can see how much thought and research has gone into it. It's appreciated so much by all of us."

"I'm just e-mailing you to let you know how much I'm enjoying reading ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions. I find the detail fascinating. I'm trying to limit my reading time each day in order to prolong the enjoyment. It's also fun to Google and Spotify songs that the Abba members have added backing vocals to."

"Thank you for this book; reading it feels like diving into an ocean of music and emotion. If ABBA was a religion, this definitely is the bible."

"Like many others, I'm enjoying my copy of The Complete Recording Sessions! It really is marvelous! I love back-stories on anything (especially ABBA!) and so this book has been a joy to read thus far. Congratulations on a wonderful publication!!"

"A huge thank you!!! Although I only read a few things here and there, I fully understand why it took so much time to write because there is REALLY a lot of information and I can only imagine how much time and patience was necessary to make the book the way it is now! So, my sincere congratulations go directly to you and I will wait for your next project with the same impatience."

"Your book is fantastic, what incredible research! I can't stop reading."

"I read your book in just 24 hours - the level of detail is absolutely amazing, and every ABBA fan should own it!"

"As we say here in Australia: it's a great book, mate!"

"Thank you for your many hours of work, Maria. It’s a beautiful book as well as a fascinating read. Together, you and Carl Magnus Palm have created an important and in-depth reference work on the subject that will be read and re-read by me for years to come. You’re clearly a very gifted and talented designer and I wish you every success with you future projects."

"I received the book yesterday and I can't put it down. I'm learning so much about this band that has given me so much pleasure. I'm looking forward to many more hours of reading. Thank you for writing this wonderful book."

"I want to say thank you for your new book, Abba - The Complete Recording Sessions. You have done wonderful work, that will bring a lot of joy to Abba fans. I know I will enjoy immensely reading this book. As it says on the back cover of the book, this is no doubt a dream book for all Abba fans. Thank you to your designer Maria Nicholas, too."

"Halfway through the new edition and I am amazed at the details and charming anecdotes. Well done, Carl Magnus."

"The book is fantastic. You've really created something very special. 435 pages of details of recording sessions could easily have been rather dry, but your writing really prevents this from happening. It feels as if you are experiencing a journey reading the book, learning how the music develops. It's really interesting seeing the timeline of when the songs were started and finished and this adds, for me, so much to an appreciation and understanding of the finished albums. The essays are great. They really add to the technical, factual material filling in the gaps so that as a reader I am able to appreciate just how much work went into the the creation and recording of the songs and how those wonderful songs were made. I hope Björn is pleased too (finally have something honest, balanced and sensible written about the lyrics!)."

"I am so happy to hold this book in my hand now. It is a very grand piece of work and I thank you so much, Maria!"

"I am in awe with the depth of detail in the book."

"It really is a beautiful book, love the typography, very well done."

"Although I'm not finished reading it yet, I'm getting more and more impressed by the job you've done, Carl Magnus Palm! It's simply huge! The hours you must have spent! And, you've mailed and/or spoken to everyone involved, including the ABBAs themselves!"

"There is so much detail in there, and I love the essays on the writing, the vocals, Polar Music Studio, etc. CMP has a done a great job, and the thing is, you know his work is reliable and well informed. I'm really enjoying reading it - I would have paid double without a thought. Great book!"

"I hesitated to order the book, because I thought it would be too detailed about the recordings themselves, not the circumstances in which they were made. But my God, soooooo glad I ordered it. I just love it! I'm taking my time, I read about a song, listen to it (wherever I can find it, some are not available anywhere of course), reading the lyrics of the song. It is a real pleasure to understand the songs better now with all the explanations! Reached the year '75 at the moment: what a joy, even reading about songs that are completely new to me: it's a revelation!"

"It's a real page turner. I am once again discovering things I never knew about their recordings both issued and (currently) unissued."

"I'm up to the start of 1974 so far. Fascinating reading all the information. I had no idea Benny no longer contributed lyrically after 1974."

"Back in 1994 I bought the first edition, and then it was great to see that someone write SERIOUS things about ABBA. Over the years I thought that everything was then written seriously about them. Your new revised book has now corrected my thought. It is such a pleasure, that there are so many new details, and, as you said, snippets that form a new and complete story."

"I have just finished reading the new book, all I can say is OMG!! It is better than I could have ever hoped and every ABBA fan worldwide are mad if they do not get this book."

"It was a pleasure to receive and start reading your masterpiece. Can't stop doing so and also re-reading some facts really unknown for most of us all along these enjoyable pages."

"I have just finished reading the revised edition of The Complete Recording Sessions. A huge and heartfelt thank you. What a great read. Your contribution to the Abba legacy is unparalleled."

"It is simply amazing and engrossing, you should be deservedly and enormously proud."

"There is so much detail and information contained in the book that I know it will keep me entertained and enthralled for many years to come!"

"I can only join in the cheers for your new book - a huge work and a great result."

"I'm enjoying your book immensely! I will never know how you manage to unearth so many amazing facts that I have never heard before!"

"Well done on your book, the sections I've read so far are great!"

"The book is fantastic, I'm just knocked out by how much you have uncovered and shared. It's also gorgeous. I've always been a sucker for session sheets, industry trade ads, picture sleeves, and you have included gems that I've never seen before. Spectacular job my friend, thank you for all your dedication to this project. The results are truly dazzling."

"Congratulations on the new book, which I find super interesting and detailed. It has become the new Abba bible."

"I don't want to give any spoilers but all I can say is that if you are a fan of ABBA's recordings, then this book is a must read. It's an A+ book."

"People who own this bible of music history are the only ones who get a secret inside look into something how this songs were created and recorded."

"I have finished reading the ebook a few days ago and am still totally amazed how great this book is! The biggest surprise to me was how your descriptions of the alternative mixes really made them come alive - I could almost hear them inside my head."

"The book is beyond awesome.... there are so many unreleased mixes!"

"Just wanted to say a big thank you and well done for your work on ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions Revised Edition! It is so comprehensive and informative!! Well worth the money and the read!"

"Thank you for the fantastic enjoyment that comes from reading your book!"

"Congratulations on the book, it is fantastic. I love it - you have done a wonderful job."

"One of the details I like very much in your book is that you write about people and places that were a part of the ABBA history, but which one hasn't read so much about in other books. Thanks again for the great book."

"A fantastic book - the music acquires an entirely new dimension! It's well-written, entertaining, honest, straightforward - and yet I've only read up until the 1973 chapter."

"I would just like to say how much I enjoyed reading your book; it was fantastic. Well-written and very informative."

"A masterpiece of research. excellently written, well designed, high quality. I have spent a lot of time in bookstores and libraries in my life, this book is first class in every way. Thanks Carl!"

"I'm genuinely at a loss to how this book could be made better. There is physically nothing else to add to it. It is 'complete' - THE definitive ABBA book."

"I just finished reading the book and it amazing! The last year's sessions were fascinating."

"When I got the book I decided to read it chronologically. But that took time! Because it’s almost impossible to read the book, from beginning till end, without relistening to many songs again. Songs you have been listening to for decades and you think you know by heart. But the descriptions in the book are so amazingly detailed that it makes you discover new things after all those years. The fact that it’s so detailed does not only show your hard and thorough work, but also the incredible craftsmanship of Björn and Benny and the high standards set by the group."

"So many astonishing facts I've never heard or knew before. The book is the best ABBA-bible  ever written and immensely important!"

"I'm incredibly happy over your hard work with this fantastic book. Words fail me, but I can only say that this is a masterpiece for us ABBA fans."

"Thank you for the Complete Recording Sessions book. It's just wonderful to read... really."

"Thank you for your book. To me it is a real masterpiece!"

"It is an awesome book, Carl."

"Mighty piece of work, just finished reading it!!"

"It really is an excellent book. I'm reading it for the second time just to make sure I didn't miss anything."

"Just to say your recent ABBA book was SUPERB!"

"I'm halfway through the book and have to stop myself so I can digest it all. I don't want it to end!"

"Thanks again, for such an enlightening book."

"Just finished reading it - it's wonderful. Although I call myself a Professor of ABBA, you teach me new things and to understand them in a new way."

"I am thoroughly enjoying the book, and taking my time reading it so I can take it all in. Congratulations on your amazing work. I loved the original book, but this one is mind blowing! Thank you for doing it, it is truly THE definitive book on ABBA and it will be most treasured."

"Just wanted to say this is a great piece of work and a wonderful addition to the collection for superfans like me. I can only imagine the amount of work that has gone into producing this book."

"I just wanted to say congratulations on a fantastic job. And thank you for writing this beautiful book."

"Thank you for your wonderful book. It made me feel as excited as I was in the '70s picking up a new single release."

"Halfway through the book and I'm enjoying it very, very much."

"You did a real great job!! Thanks for all the work you have done!"

"Like everyone else, I've loved reading (and poring over) Carl Magnus' extraordinary book. I wasn't surprised that some of the revelations and observations made listening to various tracks fascinating - knowledge about the thought-processes and work-processes, as well as the gold nuggets of tiny details, is so revealing. I've even heard new things I've never heard before. I've regretted over the years that repeated listening has meant there would never again be that feeling of exhilaration of experiencing the albums as new. However, listening poolside to the albums as I have been lately, I find that, having read ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, I'm listening with fresh ears, and just a bit of that original thrill has returned. Most of all, I've rediscovered the thing of extraordinary beauty that is Arrival. I'd rather dismissed it as the last pre-sophistication album, but it really isn't! Thanks CMP!"

"I’ve been meaning to write for some time to thank you, most genuinely and sincerely, for the magnificent tome that is the updated ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions. I am truly thrilled to have a copy, and so happy to see you realise your long-held dream. The sheer scope of it is breathtaking, and it must surely be the most comprehensive work of its kind in the world. So much to read, so much to enjoy, so much to learn ... it doesn’t get any better than that."

"Fantastic work, Carl. I can't say enough about how good this book is. A 'must have' for any Abba fan!"

"If you have not read this book you have missed something. I've never read any music book that's so detailed and gives so much insight into the songwriting process as this one. A must for any ABBA-fan. Simply a masterpiece!!!"

"In a word: WOW! This is the ABBA book I've longed for. Thank you!"

"In addition to the praise I'll have to give you some criticism. I got into some serious domestic problems because of your book, my wife started nagging me as I spent nearly all my free time at home reading your book. Now that I have read the book in its entirety, I can say that it was worth every euro. There's so much more information and new stuff compared to the first version."

"I just loved this book. All the detailed information about the development of the songs is very well written indeed. You can almost hear what is happening."

"The book is amazing. How CMP managed to unearth so many facts, I will never know. The outside world might think ABBA were a simple hit factory following a recipe, but the book tells a different story."

"I often think about a recording and its structure and think, I must see what the book says about that track when I get home from work tonight, and I do just that. It may be that I will read the book more in chunks and use it as more of an encyclopaedia than a biography even though this book is far more biographical than the first edition. I love finding intricate details about recordings that I did not know before. I hear differences in versions of ABBA songs and wonder how that happened. It is almost the first edition times 100, mixed with elements of Bright Lights, Dark Shadows. Carl Magnus has excelled himself."

"Carl Magnus Palm's book is the bible for all true ABBA fans. It shows how the group worked, telling us in detail what ABBA's life was like during the ABBA years without adding personal comments found in many other books. As a result, this is ABBAs most complete and impartial biography."

"Carl Magnus has written some wonderful books about our favourite group. The icing on the cake, however, is indeed this newly written and expanded edition. Listening to ABBA's numerous digitized studio tapes gave him much more information than we could ever have dreamed of, revealing hours and hours, days and months of work on ABBAs songs, in many styles. The book reveals so much more about Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Frida's hard work over those ten years."

"When I got the first edition of this book, I was totally hooked - so many interesting facts and exciting information that made me discover ABBA's music again from a different angle. I was in heaven when I heard about this new edition and, again, it made me discover even more; I am still learning new things. CMP's books certainly add an extra dimension to ABBA's music."

"I am very impressed by the new edition. CMP has come up with a huge amount of new information and insight into how ABBAs recordings were produced. The level of detail is astonishing given that unlike [The Beatles's recording sessions for EMI], where everything was documented, Polar was not massively bureaucratic. As a result, he did not have access to the type of paperwork available for the Beatles' sessions. He has also managed to structure the narrative so that it is very accessible for a general reader - it is far from a dry technical volume."

"This book is a wonderful fact-filled epic that will satisfy every ABBA fan. The time and effort that Carl Magnus invested is evident, and I have found it to be a fascinating read, in particular discovering how the songs evolved during the recording process. I thoroughly recommend it."

"I have to tell you how impressed I am by your work. I have never read any book detailing recording work in such a forensical way. The hours invested in your research were worth it. Your work could be a blueprint for other authors in musical research work."

"I write to express my appreciation of the new edition of your splendid ABBA: The Complete Recording Sessions. The original edition quickly established itself in my mind as the most useful of all of the new ABBA books. It was certainly the book I consulted most frequently. Imagine my joy, then, when I recently learnt that you had just completed a revised edition. I’ve now bought a copy and must congratulate you on your efforts. The new version is an outstanding piece of work, Sir, altogether richer and more detailed than the first edition. Its ability to transport me back to such a happy time of my life, when ABBA ruled the radio waves, is almost magical. I am sure that, in years to come, ABBA fans the world over will regard your book as the definitive work on the subject."

"I wanted to say the new edition of your book is fantastic. I'm so glad someone like you had the determination and passion to create such an important reference work."

"Your book is a testament to your hard work and research. A fantastic read which I couldn’t put down once I’d started reading. My eyes were quite sore by the end but I was very happy to have read it and I look forward to seeing what you are up to next."

"Your book is amazing!! I enjoyed every word of it."

"A truly brilliantly researched and written book that was very, very easy and enjoyable to read! I read it over a period of some weeks so I could think about and digest the section I’d just read.  Importantly – and this is a great skill - I felt like I was IN the studio for each recording session! Also, the presentation of the whole book – font, design, layout, paper and print quality was exceptional, too."

"Started reading ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, and I couldn't be more excited. Carl Magnus Palm, I salute you for the fine work you did, this book is a must read not just for ABBA fans, but for music lovers in general. Next best thing of being a fly on the wall during the ABBA recording sessions. Magical!"

"It's a great read. Very well written. Your English is spot-on and the book is written in a way that keeps you interested and isn't just a list of facts. You've done a great job and obviously put a lot of work into it."

"It is very rare in these years that both content and "packing/wrapping" are outstanding, brilliant and match. You have it all. Thanks for your work and the wonderful result in all respects."

"A masterpiece!"

"I read The Complete Recording Sessions all the way through. I tried to slow it down, but I couldn’t. I think it’s a fantastic book, and years and years after the rest of the world read it, it’s now joined my essential pop music books alongside Mark Lewisohn and very few others."

"What a fantastic piece of work. It is such a well written, researched and crafted document, shot through with your clear love for the band and their creations, but – crucially – never afraid to say so when something falls short of the mark. I really loved every minute of it, and have returned to the recordings with an all-new appreciation."

Learn more and order your copy here:

ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (revised and expanded edition)

ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (revised and expanded edition). Published March 31, 2017. English language. 448 pp. Hardback. CMP Text. ISBN: 978-91-639-2656-3 (or 9789163926563). Sold out (but ebook still available).