Lycka - the details

Published August 26, 2010


THE HISTORY OF THE ALBUM

In August 1969, Benny Andersson left The Hep Stars. Around the same time, Björn Ulvaeus band, the Hootenanny Singers, turned into a studio project (more or less). Three years later, in the autumn of 1972, Björn and Benny were busy recording the first ABBA album. So what happened during the years between those two dates? The answer is that Björn and Benny found themselves lost in a sort of musical wilderness, trying to figure out where to head next.

The complete story of the duo's recorded and released work between 1969 and 1972 is told on the remastered and expanded edition of their 1970 album Lycka ("Happiness"), released in May 2006. This album was first released on CD in 1991, at which time the tracklisting mirrored a 1972 reissue of the album, with the 1971 hit 'Tänk om jorden vore ung' added as the opening track.


PUTTING TOGETHER THE REISSUE

The present re-release, which restores the original track listing, has been on the cards for a long while; I seem to recall it was first discussed seriously back in 2002. However, other projects had to take precedence, so it wasn't until the autumn of 2005 that we finally got to grips with the Lycka reissue.

As usual, my first task was to put together a suggested track listing. My goal was to expand the track list so that it included every recording that had ever been released credited to Björn & Benny. There were quite a few non-album recordings released on singles in Sweden, as well as West Germany and Japan - with alternate mixes included, we ended up with 13 bonus tracks. In the archives we also discovered Björn and Benny's simple piano-and-vocals demo of 'To Live With You', the previously unreleased English-language version of the song 'Lycka'. I added this as the final track on my list, crossing my fingers that it would make it through to the final line-up.

Thankfully, the entire proposed tracklist was approved by everybody concerned, meaning that we had a whopping 14 bonus tracks, outnumbering the 11 original tracks on the Lycka album. So with every previously released Björn & Benny track included, I guess a more accurate title for this release would have been The Complete Björn & Benny Recordings! (Note: The only omitted track is the mix of 'Merry-Go-Round' that was released as the B-side of the first ABBA single, 'People Need Love'. Although the label credit on the original Polar Music single reads "Björn & Benny", the sleeve credits "Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid" for both songs. Today, this version of 'Merry-Go-Round' has come to be accepted as an ABBA track. Also, considering the space limitations on the Lycka CD, we felt the previously unreleased 'To Live With You' was a more important inclusion than a recording that is fairly easy to find on various ABBA releases, and which appears on the Lycka CD both in an alternate mix and in its Swedish version, 'En karusell'.)

As usual, however, no project is ever completely without snags and setbacks. It turned out that Polar had not kept any copies of the master tapes for the tracks that were originally released only in West Germany and Japan: 'Hey Musikant', 'Was die Liebe sagt', 'Merry-Go-Round' (the mix used in Japan), 'Love Has Its Ways' and 'Rock'n Roll Band' (the mix used in Japan). Sony Music Japan (formerly CBS) ditched the tapes of the Japanese singles when their licence for the recordings expired in the mid-Eighties, and the German tapes were also unavailable. So these five recordings had to be mastered from vinyl (courtesy of Swedish collectors Frank Axelsson and Thomas Nordin). It was either that or not include them at all, and we thought it would be nicer to have the recordings on the CD even though we had to use vinyl copies. Naturally, these tracks have been cleaned up, de-popped and de-clicked to the best of the engineer's abilities.

This reissue of Lycka also contains a 16-page booklet with my Swedish language 3,000 word essay about the story of the album and the 1969-1972 period in Björn & Benny's careers (click on the link to the right to read an English-language version on the official ABBA site).

A note on the composer credits for 'Love Has Its Ways': The tune for this track was written by Japanese composer Koichi Morita, with lyrics by Björn and Benny. However, when the Lycka CD was put together it turned out that Björn and Benny were listed as the only writers of this song in Universal Music Publishing's database. So, for administrative reasons that are beyond anything I'm able to comprehend, the CD bears a credit to Björn and Benny only.

The booklet is illustrated with single sleeves provided to us by ABBA collector Pepe. The entire package was designed by Fredrik Hurtig/In Fine Style.

 

Lycka. Released May 22, 2006. Catalogue number: Polar 987 682-3. Out of print, but copies may be available.

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