Thank You For The Music - The Making Of A Box Set, part 4 (of 8)

Published September 17, 2011


Towards the end of 1993 I was contacted by Chris Griffin, who had assembled a preliminary track listing for the proposed box set. Chris requested a meeting at the PolyGram offices in Stockholm with himself and George McManus at Polydor, who was also heavily involved in the handling of the ABBA catalogue.

I suggested a couple of changes in the track listing: for instance, since at least all the non-album single B-sides were supposed to be included on the box set, I felt that That’s Me - the B-side of Dancing Queen - was a more natural choice than Arrival, which was slated for inclusion. Later on in the process, two live tracks from the Dick Cavett Meets ABBA television special had been included in the track listing, one of which was Knowing Me, Knowing You. I suggested that Me And I might be a more interesting choice: the studio version of Knowing Me, Knowing You was already going to be on disc 2, whereas Me And I wasn’t represented at all.

Then began the long and hard process of convincing Björn and Benny to allow for some of the previously unreleased tracks to be included in the box set. From the start, Björn was slightly more in favour of this prospect than Benny. Björn and I discussed the possibility of including a disc of unreleased material together with my upcoming book. He seemed to like the multimedia aspect of it, and agreed that it would be the right context for these recordings.

But as Chris Griffin recalled in his liner notes, both Björn and Benny "would repeat the comment ’that they were not good enough then, so they are not good enough now!’" I remember sending a fax to Benny, pointing out that the concept would be the same as the recently released Beach Boys box set, which contained a fair amount of unreleased material. Since Benny is such a huge Beach Boys fan, I thought that might be a good argument: if his "heroes" could do it, perhaps so could he.

My fax to Benny.The part of my fax to Benny where I was trying to explain that ABBA fans would get the same kick out of hearing unreleased ABBA recordings as Beach Boys fans - like himself, presumably - got out of hearing the rare material in the recently issued Good Vibrations box set. "No one is naïve enough to expect an album of Super Trouper calibre," I wrote, "but they would still find it highly interesting to hear these tracks." However, I doubt that Benny is the kind of person who listens very much to previously unreleased recordings by his favourite acts.

I don’t know if my little plea made any difference, however. Björn and Benny seemed to be very uncomfortable with the thought that unfinished, often very barely arranged material would be made available to the general public - and that was that. According to Chris Griffin, Michael Tretow was the one who provided the two vital breakthroughs. At one meeting Benny asked who would be buying this box set. An ardent Elvis fan, Michael suggested that if it had been The King, he would buy it. Perhaps this was the point when fairly finished recordings such as Dream World and Put On Your White Sombrero came a little closer to a release.

Part 5: ABBA Undeleted is born


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.