ABBA In Japan - the details

Published September 15, 2011


In November 1978, ABBA travelled to Japan for a 10-day promotional trip, the purpose of which was to "break" the group in a country which had so far resisted ABBA's charms, with the exception of the occasional medium-charting hit. In addition to gazillions of press and radio interviews, and television appearances, the main event of the visit was the taping of a television special devoted entirely to ABBA. The special featured ABBA performing no less than 14 songs, three of which were performed live with a full orchestra backing, resulting in unique arrangements never used before or since. The television special, simply entitled ABBA Special, was subsequently released on VHS and laser-disc.


The release of ABBA Special on DVD was a long time coming. For various reasons it took a long time to sort out the licensing, but in 2009 the project was finally pieced together, and the package acquired the title ABBA In Japan. The Japanese broadcast company, TBS, provided us with the unedited material videotaped for the television special, which enabled us to reassemble it from the ground up. This also meant that we could present more complete performances of certain songs. ‘Fernando’, which featured a couple of verses and a chorus in the original broadcast, is seen in complete form on the DVD, while the performance of ‘Summer Night City’, originally presented in a split-screen format with ABBA only taking up a quarter of the screen, is now focused entirely on ABBA. Also, ‘The Name Of The Game’, which was edited out of the original broadcast, has been reinserted in its rightful place. Every song in the television special was synchronised with the latest stereo remasters, except for the three live numbers: ‘Money, Money, Money’, ‘SOS’ and ‘Thank You For The Music’.


The DVD also features a number of bonus selections. The first is the fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary ABBA In Japan Nov. 1978, which covers the group’s visit at the time of the television special. The second is the performance of ‘If It Wasn’t For The Nights’ from the special, but with the original, slightly different sound mix as featured in the broadcast – at the time, the song hadn’t been released on record yet and it was subject to further mixes by ABBA before finally being issued on the Voulez-Vous album.

These two bonus features can be found on the 1-disc version of ABBA In Japan, with further goodies included in the 2-disc Limited Special Edition - a very rare behind-the-scenes documentary from ABBA’s concert tour of Japan in March 1980 (which appears to have delighted fans and critics alike), plus two galleries: one containing photos from the visit in 1978, and one offering a generous selection of Japanese single and album sleeves. The 2-disc package also contains three ABBA photo cards and the original tour sticker from ABBA’s concert tour of Japan.

Finally, both versions of ABBA In Japan feature a 16-page illustrated booklet for which I contributed an essay detailing ABBA’s adventures in Japan and the making of the television special. The booklet was tastefully designed by Fredrik Hurtig of In Fine Style.


ABBA In Japan


Regular single disc

Limited Special Edition DVD

(featuring additional bonus material)