Thoughts and observations on the Swedish foursome
published October 22, 2015
Last Monday I finished listening to Voulez-Vous-era alternate ABBA mixes, and began moving into the Super Trouper period. There is quite a lot to be said about what I've heard, and indeed I will write a lot about in the book. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of recent listening sessions is the chance to hear all those 'Summer Night City' mixes.
Björn and Benny have talked many times of how problematic it was to make that particular recording work. I believe I personally first read about it in a Swedish interview with Benny from the autumn of 1980. "We did a song not too long ago called 'Summer Night City'," he said. "I don't think that's a good recording." Then he goes on to describe how they spent a week trying to mix it, and so on.
That interview was 35 years ago, and now I've finally listened to all surviving mixes of 'Summer Night City', which almost feels unreal after hearing so much about them over the years. With the knowledge of how much Benny, Björn and Michael struggled with it, it is truly fascinating to trace the development of the song: how they tried various ways of mixing it; how someone - Benny probably - had the idea that an additional keyboard overdub would perhaps help; how they applied compression to the sound to make it come alive. By the way, Benny has recently changed his mind about 'Summer Night City' a little, comparing it to the work of current dance music artists. Well, I've always loved this particular track, despite, or rather because of, its perceived flaws.
Finally, can I just say, for the record, that I f*****g love the Voulez-Vous album? You'd think that listening to mix after mix after mix of 'If It Wasn't For The Nights' and 'Lovers (Live A Little Longer)' might make you a bit fed up. Not me, it just reinforced my passion for those songs as well as most of the other tracks on that album.
Pre-order your copy of the revised and updated edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions at abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com
Frida and Björn in the Summer Night City promo clip.
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