Part 10 (of 12): Listening to rare tracks & finding a publisher

Published March 30, 2010

One dream related to the project was of course to get to hear some of the unreleased ABBA recordings. Naturally, I would have wanted to listen to every single tape in the archives, if possible, but I knew that this was likely to remain a dream. Indeed, at one point it seemed as if I wouldn't be able to hear one single tape. Björn and Benny didn't appear to be especially anxious to revisit the songs they had already junked, and if I was to arrange this myself I would have to hire a studio that could play 24-track tapes. Given the financial implications, this was simply not an option.

However, eventually, during my talks with Björn and Benny, they seemed to get more keen to hear some of those tracks themselves. I remember Benny and me discussing one of the unreleased tracks and he said, "Well, you can hear for yourself when you listen to the tape." When I replied, somewhat glumly, that it didn't look as if I would have the opportunity to do that, Benny said, "Oh, but we have to do that!" And the opportunity did indeed arise, when the Thank You For The Music box set project was set in motion. (Read more about this most exciting day with Björn, Benny, Michael Tretow and the forgotten ABBA tapes in the "Box set story", accessed from the page for the Thank You For The Music box set.)

Eventually, towards the end of 1993, the English-language manuscript for the book was more or less completed. Björn and Benny both read through the entire text, offering comments and corrections. However, their input was hardly a matter of censorship: there were only one or two things they ever asked me to take out, and those were simply things that they felt might be hurtful to other people. And, needless to say, they certainly didn't try to stop me from mentioning the existence of any of the unreleased recordings.

Agnetha and her voice coach Inga Sundström. One of the rare and unusual pictures I found during my picture research and which were included in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions.But now that the book had been written, how to have it published? Fortunately, I had already signed with my agent, Bengt Nordin, as early as February 1993. Without his efforts I doubt that the book would have been published to this day. It soon transpired that despite the ABBA revival - which was in full swing by this time, following the release of ABBA Gold in 1992 - interest in a book that specialised in the details of ABBA's recorded work was pretty slim. We only ever had interest from two different publishers, and as it turned out, in April 1994, we finally signed with Century 22. This company was run by the same people who had once published the ABBA Magazine (1977-1983). Recently, they had also published John Tobler's ABBA Gold book.

One main advantage with going with Century 22 was that their association with ABBA meant that they had a large archive of pictures which they could use. I had also done some additional research, trying to find photographs that were as closely related as possible to the subject of the book: recording and creating the music. Anders Hanser's photo archive came in very handy, since he is probably the one photographer who has taken most pictures of the group working in the studio. But I also found the odd picture by other photographers. A few examples are the picture on page 43 of Björn and Benny with Janne Schaffer and the photograph of Agnetha with her voice coach on page 84.