Pre-order contributors will get listed in ABBA On Record

Published October 15, 2021

Everyone who pre-orders the hardcover edition of my forthcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed will get it signed "To [your name]" and then my signature. But if you pre-order before 31 October 2021, you will also be listed as a pre-order contributor in the book.

Since the book was first announced, I've published a number of blog posts about its contents. Last week, for instance, there was an account of a typical chapter in the book. As for the "extra material" in ABBA On Record, one of the highlights is an essay over circa 75 pages, detailing the contents of the sensational Michael B. Tretow Tapes (Tretow pictured here). The full list of blog posts about the book is here.

Removing my author cap for a moment, and viewing the project from the outside, as an ABBA fan, I wouldn't want to miss out on ABBA On Record. The book is currently scheduled for publication in the first half of 2022 (May/June rather than January/February).

Pre-order now to secure your name in the list of pre-order contributors. Your support matters!

 

 

Three weeks left to get your name in ABBA On Record

Published October 08, 2021

October 31, 2021, is the deadline if you want your name printed as a pre-order contributor in ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed, so that's just a little over three weeks from today.

But why should you purchase this book in the first place? Well, I've published a number of blog posts about the contents, in both general and specific terms, so if you've read them you should have a pretty firm grasp of what ABBA On Record is about.

But what I haven't done is take you through an entire chapter from start to finish, giving you an idea of what you will typically get from the book. So, let's take a look at the 1976 chapter. Warning: this is pretty long, but it's necessary to paint the full picture.

The chapter starts with the release of the 'Fernando' single, and describes the single sleeve, who took the cover photo, who designed it and some further facts about that, including the typeface chosen. Then there is a discussion about why 'Fernando' in particular was released at this time, followed by the success story of the single.

'Fernando' provides a neat segue into ABBA's famous promotional trip to Australia in March 1976: how and why it happened, what they did when they were there, the making of the television special The Best Of ABBA, and the effect the visit and the special had on ABBA's fortunes in Australia. There are plenty of unknown or long-forgotten details in the story, including a discussion on exactly why ABBA became so popular in Australia.

The Australian adventure is followed by the story of the UK success of 'Fernando' and, in particular, the Greatest Hits album. Interviews I've made with people at CBS/Epic especially for this book, plus plenty of facts gleaned from vintage magazine articles, shed new light on the extraordinary success of Greatest Hits, particularly how it was promoted with a television commercial.

'Fernando' marked the last time ABBA appeared on BBC TV's Top Of The Pops in person, mainly because they didn't like having to re-record their songs for miming purposes. This gives me a reason to discuss these re-recording requirements, how and why they happened, and what tricks the record companies were up to in their efforts to circumvent them. Again, this story is based on information from vintage sources, plus new interviews with people involved, including the Musicians' Union representative who was in charge at the time.

Then follows a section on ABBA's promotional visit to the US later in 1976, which was focused on 'Fernando' and the release of the Greatest Hits album. Many stories, great and small, on how the album was released, what ABBA did during their visit, and what effect their activities had. I've trawled through basically every source I could find on the subject, including some straight from record company archives, and there are new comments from people at Atlantic Records. In particular, there are many interesting insights on what promotion to US radio entailed, and the problems Atlantic faced in trying to make ABBA big.

So, all the above has been told as a story with the release of the 'Fernando' single used as an "excuse". This section of the book is then rounded off with that single's chart success in select countries, plus a number of review extracts to show how it was greeted by the press at the time.

Next up is the 'Dancing Queen' single. Again, a story on the single sleeve - as much as I could find on it - and a discussion on which country may have released it first, and how and when it was first heard in public.

This leads to a detailed section on the performance of 'Dancing Queen' at the televised gala event on the evening before the wedding between Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia Sommerlath in June 1976. I have lots of information about how the gala came about and how it went down, based on extensive research and interviews with people involved.

Then the success of the single is discussed, upon its release in August 1976. I have plenty to say here about its fortunes in the United States, how it may have been regarded in clubs, how it was promoted to radio, and the consequences of it reaching number one on all three major charts. This is followed by Scandinavian, UK and US chart positions for the single, plus a number of review extracts.

The Arrival album is next. Here, I describe the making of the album sleeve in detail, but I also offer a fairly detailed biography of album designer Rune Söderqvist. I've tried to analyse his background in the advertising world and how that would have influenced his thinking when he made album sleeves for ABBA. I also trace Rune's and photographer Ola Lager's journey at Polar Music: which sleeves they did for the record company prior to Arrival, and so on. Naturally, I have a detailed discussion on the creation of the ABBA logo, again with references to Rune's thinking as an art director based in the world of advertising.

Here follows a detailed story of ABBA's promotional visit to Poland in October 1976. There were many, many reports written about this trip at the time, which has enabled me to write extensively about this and also a bit about ABBA's relationship to the Eastern Bloc countries.

The visit to the UK in November 1976 is next, focused on the promotional stunt with ABBA arriving via helicopter to attend a press reception onboard a boat. This story has been pieced together from vintage articles, but also from eyewitness accounts from those involved. There are also discussions on ABBA's other promotional efforts during their UK visit, plus a story on the promotion of the Arrival album, including the commercial that was produced.

Then I take a look at the release of Arrival in Australia and its success there, followed by a discussion of its fortunes elsewhere. The Arrival section is rounded off with chart positions and review extracts - the good as well as the bad.

The chapter ends with the release of the 'Money, Money, Money' single: a discussion about the sleeve and the reason why this was chosen as the follow-up to 'Dancing Queen'. I use the release of this single as a starting point to discuss the exaggerated exposure of ABBA in Australia at the time, and what long-term consequences this may have had. Chart positions and review extracts round it all off.

The above account barely scratches the surface of the many fascinating stories and details in the 1976 chapter. I've worked very hard on this and the other chapters in book, and, if I may be so bold, I feel pretty certain that you will find it all as engrossing and interesting as I have when writing ABBA On Record. In other words: if you want to learn something new about ABBA, then this book is definitely for you.

Pre-order ABBA On Record here. Your support matters!

 

King Carl XVI Gustaf

ABBA On Record - deadline for name-inclusion fast approaching

Published September 28, 2021

The deadline for having your name printed as a pre-order contributor in my forthcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed is 31 October 2021. That's a little over a month from now, so pre-order soon to avoid disappointment.

Well, what is this book about anyway? In simple terms, if ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions tells the story about ABBA creating their music, ABBA On Record will let you know what happened to the music once it had left the recording studio. By this I mean how it was packaged (the background stories of the album sleeves), promoted (what ABBA themselves, their manager Stig Anderson, and the record company people did to make their music heard), and reviewed (what the critics wrote about the singles and albums).

In other words, I'm trying to paint a larger picture of ABBA's universe, what it took to sell their music to the world, the context within which they operated, and what they were up against along the way. It is also important to remember that the book is story-driven: it's not just a bunch of a dry facts - I've endeavoured to keep it interesting to the reader.

There are so many different aspects that are covered in the book that I struggle to find a way to summarise them neatly here. But a random selection of features are:

What was the significance of crediting the US People Need Love single to Björn & Benny with Svenska flicka? How did that sexist label fit in with the music business at the time?

What kind of manager was Stig Anderson? There are many different types of managers in the music business, but how did the Stig/ABBA set-up work in particular?

ABBA – how did they get that name? I have a 5,700 word essay on that subject.

What did it mean to promote records to radio back in the 1970s? 1,800 words on that, including a detailed eyewitness account of how CBS/Epic promoted I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do in the UK by dressing up as a wedding party.

The intricate story behind the releases of 1975 albums entitled either The Best Of ABBA or Greatest Hits, and their success.

The Super Trouper album sleeve photo session: I've tried to identify as many as possible of those who were there, not least with the help of former Polar Music employees. I've also interviewed around 15-20 of those present, many of which have very vivid and enlightening memories of that photo session, so the story of this sleeve is now getting more three-dimensional. This is what I've endeavoured to do with all the album sleeves: to make them come alive and, symbolically speaking, let the reader know what was going on outside the outer edges of the sleeves.

The above is just a fraction of all the content in ABBA On Record. If you are an ABBA fan, I find it hard to believe that you will not thoroughly enjoy the book and learn a lot of things that you didn't know along the way - even if I say so myself.

Learn more and pre-order here. Your support matters!

 

ABBA Voyage - my media appearances

Published September 06, 2021

Thursday 2 and Friday 3 September will go down in history as two of the most insane days I have ever experienced. TV, radio and press interviews from morning to night, new requests coming in all the time - so many that I had to turn some of them down, simply because I couldn't fit them all in. A friend of mine joked that I should get a media representative to handle all the requests, and in fact, for those two days I would have needed one.

It was exhausting, but above all a lot of fun, as I tried my best to speculate on what we would be getting on the night of 2 September, when ABBA would unveil some big news. Afterwards, I scrambled to convey my first impressions of the two new songs - I Still Have Faith In You and Don't Shut Me Down - and the revelation that we would get an entire studio album. Plus, of course, the digital avatar concert experience.

Here's a list of my 40 ABBA Voyage-related media appearances in roughly chronological order - the ones I'm aware of and that can be accessed online, that is! At the time of writing, all items should be accessible for everyone (except where otherwise noted).

A few items are not directly related to ABBA Voyage, but their publication happened as a result of the renewed interest in ABBA in the Voyage announcement time-frame.

Are the stories from online newspapers etc. not in your language? Then please use Google Translate.

27 AUGUST


30 AUGUST

The ABC Evening Show with Sarah Macdonald [Australia]

2 SEPTEMBER

UK BBC Radio, local radio stations - clips made available thanks to the efforts of Trevor Barker:


3 SEPTEMBER


4 SEPTEMBER


6 SEPTEMBER


7 SEPTEMBER


9 SEPTEMBER


10 SEPTEMBER

  • Expressen [Sweden, behind paywall; not actually about ABBA Voyage]

11 SEPTEMBER


13 SEPTEMBER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIC Izvestia

Alex Schulman item about ABBA

Published September 06, 2021

Alex Schulman item about ABBA, Dagens Nyheter, 6 September 2021.

Two hours of local BBC Radio interviews

Published September 01, 2021

Various media want to talk to me about ABBA Voyage, and who am I to turn them down? Exact times etc. aren't clear yet, but I will post as soon as I have them.

What I can tell you is that tomorrow, Thursday, I will spend two hours talking to a number of local BBC Radio stations (in the UK). This is the schedule, technology allowing:

08:00-10:00am

0808 TEES
0815 WILTSHIRE
0822 CUMBRIA
0830 JERSEY
0838 DEVON
0845 H&W|
0852 BERKSHIRE
0915 SHROPSHIRE
0922 LANCASHIRE
0930 CAMBRIDGESHIRE
0938 KENT
0945 NEWCASTLE

During those two hours I will also be pre-recording LINCOLNSHIRE, SOLENT and DERBY for later broadcast (unclear exactly when).

 

ABBA On Record - have your name printed in the book

Published August 31, 2021

In the midst of the ABBA Voyage storm, work on my forthcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed is ongoing. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to writing about the new ABBA songs in the book.

Those who pre-order the book, get the following perks:

1. Your name printed in the book in a list of pre-order contributors.

2. A signed copy of the book: "To [your name]" and my autograph. (This, obviously, only applies to hardcover copies, not the ebook version.)

Since I hope to publish the book sometime in the first half of 2022, I need to get some practical things in order within the next few months. Therefore, if you want your name printed in the book as a contributor, you will have to place your pre-order no later than 31 October 2021. So that's within two months from now.

Pre-orders will still be open after that date, but after 31 October 2021 you won't get your name printed in ABBA On Record.

ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed is more than a companion volume to ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions. It takes a look at what happened with ABBA’s music once it had left the recording studio: single by single, album by album. It presents the stories behind the iconic album sleeves, explores how the record companies worked with ABBA releases in presenting them to the record-buying public, shows what kind of success – or lack thereof – they enjoyed, and presents a selection of review excerpts to give a flavour of how the singles and albums were received by the media at the time.

There are also exciting appendices, the most enticing of which will be the revelations of The Michael B. Tretow Tapes (on-the-side recordings made in the studio) and the story behind the new ABBA songs.

Read more and place your pre order at abbaonrecord.com. Your support matters!

 

Fab Dutch ABBA TV series - you can watch it!

Published June 11, 2021

As announced earlier this year I was interviewed for a Dutch TV series and documentary, Take A Chance On Me, all about ABBA. The set-up is that musical duo Nick & Simon and their friend Kees travel to Sweden to meet up with people who had some connection to ABBA, plus also do a few musical performances. The story of ABBA is intervowen into this format.

First, six episodes were broadcast, showing the making of the documentary, followed by the finished documentary. The series concluded recently and I am in the final "making-of" episode and then in the actual documentary.

As of this writing, both that episode and the documentary are available to watch online. Since I could watch them in Sweden, I guess the programmes are available in many other countries as well - hopefully including yours. You will have to sit through a couple of Dutch commercials, but it's worth the effort, as both the series and the documentary are quite ambitious.

Contrary to many other European countries, The Netherlands don't use dubbing on television, so when people speak English in the interviews, that's what you will hear as well.

Watch the making-of episode, where I'm interviewed about ABBA's album sleeves, here.

Watch the finished documentary here.

 

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