ABBA - The Complete Guide To Their Music - the details

Published March 29, 2010


In the mid-1990s, my publisher in Great Britain, Omnibus Press - who commissioned my ABBA biography, Bright Lights Dark Shadows - started a series of discographies, entitled The Complete Guide To The Music Of.... Since then, they've published volumes on a diverse range of artists, such as The Beatles, The Who, The Smiths, Carpenters, Steely Dan, Leonard Cohen, The Jam, Frank Zappa - you get the picture. Some of you may be familiar with these CD-sized books that offer an album by album, track by track description/critique of each artists's entire recorded output on single, LP, MC and CD.

In the 2000s, Omnibus Press decided to upgrade the series, introduce a few more artists to it, and change the design to a more traditional paperback format. They also changed the title of the series slightly, so that the artist's name now comes first: for instance, The Beatles - The Complete Guide To Their Music.


ABBA were among the new artists Omnibus Press wanted to add to the series. Back in November 2001 I was asked if I wanted to write that particular book, but for some reason the series upgrade was put on hold for another few years. I finally got the go-ahead for the project in the spring of 2004. The manuscript was completed in September of that year. As usual, I owe a great debt to Ian Cole in Sydney, Australia, who has proof-read and fact-checked my text, offering innumerable suggestions and insights. Without his input, the book would have been considerably less authoritative. Many other ABBA fans have also helped out.

ABBA - The Complete Guide To Their Music aligns itself with the format used for the earlier titles in the series, the intention being to describe every track ever recorded and released by ABBA for the purpose of functioning as a consumer guide. The book has been commissioned by a UK publisher, and therefore the actual discographical details (catalogue numbers, release dates, etc) are sometimes slanted towards the UK. However, this is neither here nor there in terms of the subject matter of the book: ABBA's music.

The book begins with a description of the eight studio albums, including the bonus tracks on the current CD versions, then moves on to the Spanish-language Gracias Por La Música/ABBA Oro releases and the ABBA Live album. After that follows a section on the most important compilations, followed by a chapter detailing significant tracks not covered in the previous chapters, such as certain foreign language versions of songs, rare edits and remixes that have never received an international CD release. However, it should be noted that the detailing of edits only includes tracks commercially released by Polar Music and/or ABBA's official licensees (Epic, RCA, Atlantic, Polydor, etc) and not promotional edits, or indeed, tracks where labels such as K-Tel have seen fit to shave off 30 seconds of a recording to fit it onto a compilation album. For details of those edits, visit the Songs section at Ian Cole's ABBA Omnibus site (see link in the More Info menu).

Alas, there were still a few edits that should have had separate entries according to this system, yet somehow slipped through the cracks. And also one full length version that should have been mentioned in the book. Mea culpa! Furthermore, some additional info has come to light since publication of the book. See Updates link in the More Info menu.

The book concludes with a review of the DVD releases (ABBA - The Movie is the only VHS mentioned, since that particular film hadn't been released on DVD when the book was published), and then, finally, brief overviews of the pre- and post-ABBA careers of the four individual members. The book comes with a title index at the end, for easy reference.

Although modest in size and scope, ABBA - The Complete Guide To Their Music contains quite a lot of detail on the group's work and should hopefully be a handy companion for the ardent admirer as well as the casual fan. The book features two eight-page sections of pictures, mostly in colour although one or two may be in black and white. The picture sections contain a number of sleeves - the current CD versions of the eight studio albums, Gracias Por La Música, and a few compilation CDs - but the remaining pictures are photographs of the group and the individual members.

Interested in reading a sample chapter from the book? Just click the link in the More Info menu.

A German version of the book was published on March 20, 2007 (click the link under More Info).

ABBA - The Complete Guide To Their Music. Published by Omnibus Press, late March 2005. English language. 126 pp. 18 x 11 cm. Paperback. ISBN: 1844495051. Out of print, though copies are still available. Try any of the links below.