Thoughts and observations on the Swedish foursome
published June 10, 2021
For an incredible 22 years, fellow ABBA fan and author of the fab book ABBA: Song by Song, Ian Cole, has proofread virtually everything I've written in the English language. Right now I'm keeping him busy with my forthcoming book ABBA On Record, which I currently hope to publish in the first half of 2022.
Since Ian will have more of an outside fan perspective as a reader than I have as a writer, I asked him to share his thoughts on the book and what he's read so far. So, without further ado, heeeere's Ian:
As readers of this blog will be aware, ABBA On Record grew out of the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, published in 2017. Additional details about the release, promotion, and reaction to ABBA's records that didn't fit into that book due to space.
Carl Magnus has been busy researching and writing the new book for quite a while now, finding more information that will make ABBA On Record just as interesting and essential as The Complete Recording Sessions.
Again I've been honoured to help Carl Magnus with proof reading the manuscript of the work in progress. So far we've worked through chapters covering 1972 to 1976, from the first single People Need Love, through to the Arrival album and Money, Money, Money single.
What's been included so far is fascinating, and expands so much about what we've known for decades about ABBA's records and promotion. On top of the research that Carl Magnus has already collected over the past 30 years for various projects which has come in handy for this book, he has tenaciously trawled through archives to find long-lost details from the various record companies that released ABBA's records around the world (including, of course, Polar Music in Sweden), contemporary reviews and advertisements, actual sales figures, and single and album charts in several of ABBA's major markets. He has interviewed people who were involved in the release and promotion of ABBA in Scandinavia, the UK, USA, Australia, and more. He has delved into promotion on TV and radio, ABBA’s classic TV specials, and pivotal performances.
The book is a fascinating journey. We read about the early days when packaging and promotion seemed almost an afterthought, such as the Ring Ring album sleeve being cobbled together with existing publicity photos (the one on the front being many months old); developing coordinated concepts for ABBA's image, such as the costumes worn for Eurovision-winner Waterloo in performance, publicity photos, and album cover; the lack of control of ABBA's record releases around the world with a wild variety of record sleeves; the unfettered promotion of ABBA on TV that led to massive overexposure in Australia; and attempts by Polar to reign in and standardise the look of ABBA's releases that started with the creation of the classic ABBA logo. These topics and more in the book have been covered before, but never with so much detail or analysis.
In addition, I was thrilled to read the chapter on the so-called Michael B. Tretow tapes, which ABBA's recording engineer surreptitiously recorded on the side during some of ABBA's studio sessions. These tapes have revealed many amazing discoveries, which add to or in some cases contradict previously known details about some songs, plus fascinating glimpses of music that never advanced beyond tryouts that weren't committed to proper studio recordings, and thus were not reported in The Complete Recording Sessions. Intriguingly there are songs that until now no one has heard since those studio sessions, while there are other snatches of melodies that have popped up many years later in other songs created by Benny and Björn in post-ABBA projects.
Recent discussions between us hint that there is even more exciting information to be revealed. Carl Magnus tells me he has tracked down several people who were present for the Super Trouper album sleeve shoot. I'm looking forward to reading what will come in future chapters. I'm sure you'll be as excited as I am when the book is published and you all get to read what I've been lucky enough to view so far.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ian!
Learn more and pre-order your copy here.
Ian Cole has proofread virtually everything I've written for the past 22 years. He's still going strong with ABBA On Record.
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