Arrival liner notes
Published April 05, 2010
Initial sessions for Arrival, ABBA's fourth album, began August 4, 1975 - but the album wasn't completed until over a year later. The late summer and autumn of 1975 was a hectic time for the group. They had just completed a short tour of Sweden, and in between work for the group, Benny was producing tracks for a Swedish-language solo album for Frida, while Agnetha was working on an album of her own. As if that wasn't enough, ABBA had to travel all over Europe, performing on numerous television shows, promoting their current single, 'SOS', as well as other tracks from their previous album, ABBA.
The start of 1976 was no less busy: the group was enjoying a number one hit with 'Mamma Mia' in Great Britain, and appeared on the television show Top Of The Pops. They also taped their very own television special in West Germany.
In March, one of the songs recorded the previous autumn was released as a brand new single. 'Fernando' had started life as a Swedish track for Frida's solo album, but when the group realised that it had hit potential beyond Swedish borders, they decided that ABBA should record their own version of the song. It turned out to be an excellent idea. 'Fernando' topped the charts in a great number of countries, occupying the top position in Australia for 14 weeks - a record only equalled by The Beatles' 'Hey Jude'. This formidable feat was achieved after the group had made their first visit to Australia, taping their television special The Best Of ABBA. This program also broke a record: attracting 54 per cent of the viewers, it was watched by more people than the 1969 moon landing.
On March 23, ABBA finally found the time to start working in earnest on the new album. The first track to be recorded was 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', which turned out to be one of the very strongest tracks on the album. Featuring a melancholy lead vocal by Frida, it was the first of several ABBA titles to depict love troubles within the framework of a collapsed marriage.
The song certainly struck a chord with listeners all over the world when it was released as a single in February 1977. 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', reached the higher regions of the charts in several countries.
Another of Frida's highlights on the album was recorded in mid-May. When the song first was written, it was called 'Money, Money, Money'. But that was just a working title: lyricist Björn felt that this theme had already been used in quite a few other songs. His alternate suggestion was 'Gypsy Girl', but he had to concede that those lyrics didn't work as well as the original money theme. It was back to where he started, and the song was completed and included on the album as 'Money, Money, Money'. It, too, became a hugely successful single, hitting number one in Australia, West Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium and Mexico.
Agnetha also had her shining moments on the album. The ballad 'My Love, My Life' was recorded towards the end of the Arrival sessions, in August 1976. This song also had a somewhat convoluted way to completion. At one point, it was a slightly more uptempo number called 'Monsieur, Monsieur', the lyrics dealing with a nostalgic memory of a romance the protagonist had enjoyed in France. But the song seemed to call for another, slower arrangement, and was re-recorded as 'My Love, My Life'. Incidentally, the soaring backing vocals were inspired by the choir heard on the 10cc classic 'I'm Not In Love'.
The very last song to be completed for Arrival was 'Why Did It Have To Be Me', Björn's lead vocal track on the album. Similar to 'Money, Money, Money', the original working title had actually been 'Why Did It Have To Be Me', which then was turned into a series of alternate titles before reverting back to the original idea.
One of the early attempts at the song was titled 'Happy Hawaii'. The melody was slightly different in places, and it featured Agnetha and Frida on lead vocals instead of Björn. After it was decided that the track was not going to be used on the album, ABBA released it as the B-side of the 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' single. 'Happy Hawaii' has been included as a bonus selection on this CD version of the Arrival album.
It was often when Frida and Agnetha shared the lead vocals that the most magic aspects of the ABBA sound emerged through the speakers. Perhaps no more so than on the song that certainly must rank at the very top of well-known ABBA classics.
The recording of 'Dancing Queen' was started at the same time as 'Fernando', back in August 1975. The original working title of the song was 'Boogaloo', and it was clear from the beginning that there was going to be a dancey feel to the track. George McCrae's 1974 disco classic 'Rock Your Baby' was used as an inspiration for finding the right groove on the recording. Some of the rhythmic feel was also "lifted" from the Dr. John album 'Gumbo', which coloured drummer Roger Palm's work.
Presumably, the group knew they were on the right track when Frida started crying the moment she first heard the backing track. The beauty of the melody and the production had truly struck a chord with her.
The record-buying public may not have been moved to tears when the song was released as a single in August 1976, but they certainly turned it into a big hit. It would be easier to name the countries where 'Dancing Queen' did not reach number one, so we will refrain from detailing chart statistics here. Suffice to say that 'Dancing Queen' is probably ABBA's most well-known song and has continued to fill dance-floors the world over through the decades.
Among the much-loved tracks on Arrival that never became singles is the rocky 'Tiger', which also was a popular opening number on ABBA's tour of Europe and Australia in the beginning of 1977. The title track, 'Arrival', was the last time ABBA had an instrumental recording on an LP (the previous album contained Benny's rock/classical workout 'Intermezzo no. 1'). Incidentally, it was the album title that gave the song its name - not the other way around.
When the Arrival album was released, it quickly became ABBA's biggest international LP success so far, reaching the number one position in most countries. Although 'Fernando' had been recorded during the initial sessions for Arrival, it was not a part of the album in most territories. However, it has been included as a bonus track on this CD.
This bonus selection is perhaps especially welcome for residents of Australia and New Zealand. If they were around at the time of the original release of Arrival their memory of the LP should feature 'Fernando' in the track listing, between 'Why Did It Have To Be Me' and 'Tiger' on side two. Those who wish to hear the album just as it appeared in that part of the world should programme their CD players thus: tracks 1-8, 11, 9, 10.