About the Deluxe Editions
Published August 20, 2010
The Deluxe Editions of ABBA's original studio albums have mostly been very well-received by critics and fans alike. A CD of the full album plus bonus tracks, along with a DVD of rare and previously unreleased TV performances, plus a booklet featuring an essay detailing the making of the album - all for a comparatively reasonable price - should be quite irresistible for anyone interested in ABBA's music beyond owning a compilation album. For me personally, the Deluxe Editions are a joy to work on, and certainly among the most meaningful ABBA projects I have ever been involved in.
However, some questions arise regularly about the Deluxe Editions, and here is an attempt to answer the most freqeuent ones.
How did the ABBA Deluxe Editions come about?
Around 2003, I had the idea that it would be great to release a Deluxe Edition of the Arrival album at some point. I had become quite enamoured with the series of Deluxe Editions recently begun by Universal Music and had bought the expanded 2-CD reissues of Marvin Gaye's classic What's Going On, Let's Get It On and I Want You albums. At the time I wasn't certain whether Polar Music International/Universal Music would want to release more than one ABBA album as a Deluxe Edition, but I felt that Arrival was a sure-fire candidate for such a release: It was the group's most iconic album, catching them at the peak of their breakthrough and containing the most famous ABBA track of them all, 'Dancing Queen'.
Since the former ABBA members will not allow the release of previously unissued material, I thought that the second disc on an Arrival Deluxe Edition could be a DVD of television material from the era. Perhaps a release in 2006 would be appropriate, since that would mark the 30th anniversary of the original issue. I brought this up with my associates at Universal Music, and they seemed to like the idea. But since we had just reissued all eight original ABBA studio albums in 2001, we all agreed that we should indeed wait for the 30th anniversary.
Later in 2003 I mentioned this idea to Karin Häggblom, who was temporarily the Label Manager for Polar Music International, when we were casually discussing various ideas for future ABBA releases. Karin suggested that we could do something similar for the Waterloo album, the 30th Anniversary of which would occur a few months later, in the spring of 2004. We had no "celebratory" release scheduled for the actual 30th Anniversary date, so we felt a Deluxe Edition of Waterloo would be perfect. However, since the Deluxe Editions released by other artists had been 2-disc audio packages, and we were planning a CD+DVD package, it was decided to call it something other than Deluxe Edition. Thus, Waterloo was marketed as a 30th Anniversary Edition.
Two years later we finally got to grips with Arrival, which was formally the first ABBA Deluxe Edition. Certainly, with the inclusion of a DVD jam-packed with television performances, it more than justified the "deluxe" label.
Most Deluxe Editions by other artists have two CDs, one of which usually offer rarities, alternate mixes and previously unreleased recordings. Why don't you issue unreleased recordings instead of television performances?
The answer is simple: the former ABBA members won't let us. After the previously unreleased recordings released in 1993-1994, they felt the book should be closed on that subject. The Visitors Deluxe Edition featured the previously unreleased demos-and-outtakes medley 'From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel', but at the time of writing there is nothing to suggest that this will be followed by more outtakes from the vaults. Read more on this subject here.
There were Deluxe Editions released on the 30th anniversaries of Waterloo, Arrival and ABBA - The Album - but you missed the anniversary for the ABBA album, and Voulez-Vous, Super Trouper and The Visitors were released the year after their 30th anniversaries. Why?
It's important to remember that, with the exception of Waterloo, these albums were all released as Deluxe Editions, not as 30th Anniversary Editions. The point I'm making is that our main goal is to release quality deluxe products, not to mark the anniversary for this or that album. Naturally, it's always nice if we can co-ordinate the release with an anniversary, but at the end of the day the attraction of the Deluxe Editions shouldn't really depend on whether they coincide with an anniversary or not.
Again, you initially skipped the ABBA album - why was there no Deluxe Edition of that album released in 2005?
The year of 2005 was chock-full of other ABBA-and-related releases. We put together the mega-mammoth-box set The Complete Studio Recordings, we released ABBA - The Movie on DVD, and we put out remastered editions of Agnetha and Frida's Polar solo albums. This took up all of our time in 2005 - releasing a Deluxe Edition of the ABBA album was never even discussed. Again, these are Deluxe Editions - the anniversaries are nice, but they are not the main point. However, November 2012 finally saw a Deluxe Edition release of the ABBA album.
So do you intend to release Deluxe Editions of all eight ABBA studio albums?
Speaking for myself, I would of course love to do that. But I'm not the one who makes the final decisions. At the end of the day, it's Polar Music/Universal Music and the former ABBA members who decide what gets released. So I cannot really say if we will do all eight albums. I hope so, but we'll see what the future holds. I can't say that we will, I can't say that we won't. And I will never be the one to reveal any such news, they will always be announced first by Polar Music on ABBA - The Official Site.
The DVDs included with the Deluxe Editions are very nice, but for album X you missed out on several television performances that could have been included. Why?
We have a good grasp of the available television performances, interviews and news items related to each album. However, it all boils down to licensing issues and negotiations with the broadcasting companies who hold the rights. Although from the outside it may look like a straightforward process, it can often be very complicated to license these television performances. Mia Segolsson at Polar Music works very hard at resolving whatever issues may arise, but sometimes it's just impossible. I wish it were otherwise, but that's just how it is.