ABBA In Concert - the details

Published April 14, 2010


ABOUT THE FILM


Between September and November 1979, ABBA went on a concert tour in North America and Europe. This tour was captured on film in a co-production between ABBA's record company, Polar Music Television, and Sveriges Television, the only Swedish television broadcasting company at the time.

The film was produced and directed by Urban Lasson, who was employed at Sveriges Television (SVT). The film consisted of documentary scenes mainly filmed in the United States, and concert scenes filmed at Wembley Arena in London, England. The film was ready for broadcast in March 1980, and because of ABBA's global popularity it quickly became a great export success. SVT do not keep an official "top export sales chart", but over the years ABBA In Concert has remained one of their most popular productions - only productions such as Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute can compete.


PUTTING TOGETHER THE DVD

ABBA In Concert was first released on VHS back in the 1980s. A DVD release has been on the cards for a number of years, but it has taken a while to put all the pieces together. According to my notes, the first real meetings, research efforts and so on, began in October 2002. The tireless project coordinators for ABBA In Concert were Mia Segolsson and Karin Häggblom at Universal Music in Stockholm, Sweden.

One of the first things we started looking into was the possibility of bonus material. Quite early on, we were told by director Urban Lasson that the songs we see in the film are the only songs that were filmed. The reason was simply that ABBA In Concert was conceived as a television special with a running time of less than an hour. Therefore, a number of suitable songs were selected to be filmed, and consequently there was no need to do any further filming.

There were only two exceptions. One was the performance of The Way Old Friends Do, which has received a limited number of broadcasts over the years. However, it was not included in most versions of ABBA In Concert (certainly not on any of the home video releases). The other was Thank You For The Music, which was not even edited when the film was originally made, and thus had never been seen by anyone anywhere. There was also the video clip version of I Have A Dream, an edit without the children's choir rehearsals that "interrupt" the performance in the In Concert film. Those three songs were the only concert performances that could be added to the line-up.

For additional extras, Universal Music arranged to have on-camera interviews made with director Urban Lasson and ABBA's tour producer, Thomas Johansson. These were made in January and February 2004, and should be quite interesting - there are a couple of stories in there that will perhaps raise an eyebrow or two.


THE LINER NOTES

About a year earlier I also interviewed Lasson and Johansson for my extensive essay in the DVD booklet (see links to the right, under "More info"). In fact, the liner notes were completed almost a year before the DVD was ready for release. When I prepared the text, I thought it might be interesting to find out who director Urban Lasson was, what his goals had been when he made the film - and why there are so many roller-skating scenes. Naturally, I was also interested in getting Thomas Johansson's inside views on arranging an ABBA tour, and his thoughts on the group as live performers. Hopefully, the liner notes will give the reader a fresh perspective on both the tour and the ABBA In Concert film.

The essay is presented in a 28-page full colour booklet, illustrated with pictures from the tour and also a few shots from the making of the film. The entire package was designed by Niclas Håkansson at Ogilvy Design in Stockholm (Niclas is also the man behind the artwork for The Definitive Collection 2-CD and DVD, as well as the box set The Complete Studio Recordings). The ABBA In Concert DVD also contains a gallery of pictures from the original Souvenir Tour Programme of the tour (a copy of the programme was provided to us by ABBA fan Thomas Nordin).

I should mention that during the course of this production, I had many fruitful discussions with my friends Ian Cole and Matti Crocker in Australia. They both came up with several suggestions that have helped make ABBA In Concert a better product. Aileen Schafer in the United States spent a lot of time helping out with research.

The main reason it took so long to get the DVD finished was the work required on the soundtrack, mixing it into 5.1 surround sound. On Benny Andersson's suggestion this was done by sound engineer Bernard Löhr, who has worked a lot with Benny over the years. Bernard's schedule was crammed with prior commitments before he could take on ABBA In Concert. But finally, all parts were present and correct - and ABBA In Concert was released on DVD.

 

ABBA In Concert. Released March 29, 2004. Catalogue number: Polar 065 646-9.

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