Thoughts and observations on the Swedish foursome
DJ Niklas Strömstedt (on the far left) was the first person to play the title track of ABBA's Voulez-Vous album in public.
published August 18, 2022
In the composite image that accompanies this text you will see ABBA's classic Voulez-Vous album, which you've no doubt seen many times before. But to the left of the album are two young, long-haired men, circa 1978/79, the one on the far left being of particular interest to us here. For he is Niklas Strömstedt, today mainly known in Sweden as a successful singer-songwriter and, for ABBA fans, the Swedish lyricist for the Mamma Mia! musical. But back in the late 1970s he was about 20 years old and sharing duties as a DJ at the newly opened Atlantic night club in central Stockholm. This was one of the ABBA members' regular haunts, particularly Benny and Frida. In February 1979, Björn and Benny came to the club late one night and asked Niklas to play a test pressing of a brand new track: 'Voulez-Vous'. The reaction was very favourable indeed.
I've told this story before, in the Voulez-Vous Deluxe Edition liner notes, but as I'm writing ABBA On Record, and researching the story of the Voulez-Vous album sleeve, I'm really going in-depth and trying to expand the story of the ABBA members' nightlife as it was at the time. Because the club culture of the day not only fed into the music of the album, it also fed into the sleeve, which was photographed at ABBA's other favourite Stockholm night club, Alexandra's. I've really enjoyed piecing this story together, as one of the goals of my book is to make the sleeves "three-dimensional". Naturally, I've also collected every piece of information I've been able to find about the photo session itself. Speaking for myself, I now see so much more when I look at the sleeve than I did before, because now I have all the facts and stories and insights in front of me. And if I feel that way, then there's a chance you will, too.
I can't wait to share all this with you - although unfortunately I will have to wait, since writing this book takes a very loooong time. It takes that long precisely because I'm spending so much time researching and thinking about virtually everything that goes into this book: the album sleeves; the reasons why certain singles and albums succeeded commercially or not; details of ABBA and their manager Stig Anderson's promotional efforts; and so much more. But ABBA On Record will be finished and sent out to everyone who pre-ordered it sometime in 2023. It really is jam-packed with stories that all of us will feel are new and/or more detailed than before.
Read more about the book and pre-order your copy at abbaonrecord.com.
P.S. The other guy in the black-and-white picture is Hasse Huss, who later co-wrote the song 'Yeah Yeah' with Mikael Rickfors; it was subsequently covered by Cyndi Lauper for her 1983 album She's So Unusual. Another little tidbit of a fact for you.
© 2003–2024 Carl Magnus Palm. All rights reserved. Produced by Disco Works