Thank You For The Music - The Making Of A Box Set, part 1 (of 8)

Published September 17, 2011

During the writing of the book ABBA — The Complete Recording Sessions, I got involved in the compilation of the 4-CD box set Thank You For The Music. From obvious inclusions like Dancing Queen to never-before-heard rarities like Put On Your White Sombrero, here is the story of how it all came together.


After PolyGram (since then merged with Universal Music) bought Stig Anderson’s Sweden Music group of companies in 1989 - and the ABBA catalogue with it - it didn’t take long before the powers-that-be started thinking of ways to make good use of their new acquisition. The first few years of the Nineties saw a couple of ideas brought forward: one was a remix album, but this never got any further than a remix of Dancing Queen, made by Benny Andersson in late 1991 or early 1992. Björn and Benny didn’t feel that the remix added anything to the song, so the project was shelved.

By 1992, the sights had instead been set on a box set. Ever since PolyGram released their groundbreaking, multi-million-selling Eric Clapton box set, Crossroads, in 1988, record companies have been eager to exploit the commercial potential of such releases. The usual format for box sets is the inclusion of the act’s hits, familiar album tracks plus rare and previously unreleased material.

The ABBA box set was originally set for release towards the end of 1992, according to a report in Billboard magazine in July of that year, but the plans were ultimately shelved. Instead, energies were focused on creating a single-disc compilation album. That, of course, turned out to be ABBA Gold, released in September 1992.

The multi-million selling ABBA Gold, released in 1992.

It soon became clear that the album was a bigger success than anyone had counted on, topping the charts in several countries and selling several million copies. At this point it was decided to release a follow-up volume, More ABBA Gold. This meant the first foray into the archives, and two previously unreleased tracks were up for consideration: ’Just Like That’ and ’I Am The City’, both dating back to ABBA’s final sessions in 1982.

More ABBA Gold collected hits and nother notable tracks that didn't fit on ABBA Gold.

Björn and Benny vetoed the inclusion of ’Just Like That’, a song that had already been rewritten by the pair and then released as a recording with the duo Gemini in 1985. But ’I Am The City’ was included on More ABBA Gold, which was released in June 1993. This CD also became a success - especially considering that it was a companion disc with few of the truly familiar hits - selling more than one million copies. In the autumn of 1993, it was clear to everyone involved that the ABBA revival was in full swing, and the thought of a box set was awakened again.

Part 2: Discovering the unreleased tracks


Thank You For The Music. Released October 31, 1994; catalogue number: Polydor 523 472-2. Revised version released August 13, 2008; catalogue number: Polar 060251743234. Four discs. 66 page booklet with essays and discographical notes.