ABBA On Record report - Tretow Tapes and more

Published July 11, 2019

I thought it would be timely with an update on how I'm doing with my forthcoming book, ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed (abbaonrecord.com). Work is progressing, and these are the issues I'd like to address:

THE MICHAEL B. TRETOW TAPES

I'm happy to report that I've completed the essay about The Michael B. Tretow Tapes: a treasure trove of on-the-side session recordings and previously unheard tunes. The essay will need to be fine-tuned, of course, but it currently stands at 38,500 words.

I recently sent the text to one of my proofreaders, Ian Cole, who, judging by his spontaneous comment to me, enjoyed it very much. "The Michael B. Tretow Tapes piece is fascinating!" Ian wrote. "It’s so much more detailed and so much longer than I was expecting. This is outstanding stuff. The fans are going to love it."

I hope and believe that Ian's right: never mind my wonderful prose - the information contained in the essay will certainly give us so much more insight into ABBA's musical universe.

PUBLICATION DATE

It's now clear that ABBA On Record will not be published before the end of 2019. Partly because I just won't be ready in time for that, but also because I want to include the recording history of the new ABBA songs in the book, and the latest we've heard about that is that at least one song will be released in November, probably two. We don't know for certain that this date will hold, though, so we'll see what happens.

Another factor to take into account is Benny's recent comments about the much-delayed avatar concert project, for which these songs were originally recorded. "If it happens, it will happen in 2021," he told a Swedish reporter a few weeks ago. Earlier in the year he also said that he felt ABBA should record at least one more song to have something that was truly fresh for the avatar concerts.

What this all adds up to is that a) the two songs we already know about - 'I Still Have Faith In You' and 'Don't Shut Me Down' - will probably/maybe be released in November 2019, and b) there may be one or more new song(s) that possibly won't be heard until sometime in 2021.

I can't wait until 2021 to publish ABBA On Record - I expect to publish sometime during the first half of 2020 - so, maybe, if there are further songs, some kind of addendum will be made available to those who purchase ABBA On Record. Probably something like a free PDF.

I would also like to take this opportunity to make it clear that I have not heard the new ABBA songs, and I don't have any inside information about them at this stage: I know only what's been reported in the media.

In the meantime, I will keep on working on ABBA On Record, which I feel confident will be a thoroughly enjoyable book. If you haven't already done so, I urge you to place a pre-order: everyone who pre-orders will have their name listed in the book, plus get their copy personally signed by the author.

Pre-order your copy here: abbaonrecord.com. Your support matters!

 

10% off ABBA On Record pre-orders - only ONE WEEK left!

Published May 29, 2019

ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed is currently scheduled for publication circa late 2019/early 2020. Everyone who pre-orders will have their name listed in the book and also get their book signed with a personal dedication from the author.

If you place your order for the book no later than 5 June 2019 you will also get 10% off the regular price.

Read more and pre-order your copy at abbaonrecord.com.

Many thanks for pre-ordering: your support matters!

ABBA played the Paramount Theatre, not the Portland Opera House

Published May 10, 2019

Every now and then it is suggested to me that, surely, we know everything there is to know about ABBA by now. My reply is always that the ABBA story is still under-researched. Here's an example why.

As I was preparing to go to Portland, Oregon, to attend the ARSC conference, I decided to look up the venue ABBA played there on their 1979 tour of North America. It's a little hobby I have to look up these buildings and take a few pictures.

In the official tour programme, the venue was listed as Portland Opera House, and that's indeed what I had in my files as well. However, I noticed that many years ago I'd made a note that "some sources say Paramount Theatre". Investigating it a little further, I noticed that the reviews of the concert mentioned the Paramount Theatre, so clearly, the venue was changed after the programmes had been printed.

I haven't had time to track down any ads from Oregon papers, but for now I'm fairly convinced ABBA never performed at the Opera House. I don't recall this venue switch being mentioned in the fan community, so I can only assume Oregonian ABBA fans from back in the day aren't very active in fan circles these days.

Today, the Paramount Theatre is known as The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (see picture).

So: still learning new things about ABBA, even after 25 years of researching their story.

 

Picking up my book award next week

Published May 04, 2019

May 8-11, 2019, I will attend the ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections) conference in Portland, Oregon. Last year, my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions won the award for Best Popular Music Discography, and on Saturday, May 11, I will be presented with the actual award at a ceremonial dinner.

While I'm there I will also give a lecture about the book and ABBA's recording philosophies, this will take place on Thursday, May 9.

I'm really looking forward to attending the conference, hanging out with likeminded people and listening to a number of interesting lectures. It's my first time at an event such as this, so I'm curious what it might be like. And, of course, I still have to pinch my arm that my book has won an award!

Read more about the conference here. #ARSCaudio2019

If you feel like buying an award-winning book, ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions can be ordered here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

 

ABBA On Record contents - 06 The new songs (plus Book prices)

Published April 04, 2019

This is the sixth and final instalment describing the contents of the upcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed. Tomorrow, Friday 5 April, is when pre-ordering starts (read more here).

In addition to the discography, which constitutes the main part of the book (detailed in Saturday's blog post), there will also be five further sections. This is the fifth of these appendices:

06 THE NEW SONGS

Unless you're the kind of ABBA fan who's been living under a rock for the past year or so, you will be well aware that the group has recorded two new songs. The songs, 'I Still Have Faith In You' and 'Don't Shut Me Down', were conceived as a result of ABBA's forthcoming avatar project, where digital replicas of the four members will perform their songs in a concert environment.

While the band's most familiar songs are the backbone of this project, the four members felt it would be more valid if the avatars also had something new to sing. Thus they decided to enter the studio for the first time in almost 35 years, in June 2017, to record two new songs. When the news broke in April 2018, it caused headlines all over the planet, so sensational was it that one of the few legendary bands never to have a reunion was actually recording again. There has even been talk of a third song, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

The new songs, the first of which is presently scheduled to be made public in September or October 2019 (subject to change), will, of course, be covered in ABBA On Record. I will present them in the same diary format style used in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. At the time of writing, I don't know exactly what kind of information I will get access to, but I will do my best with whatever facts and stories I can get my hands on.

Note: The above content description is subject to minor changes and adjustments.

BOOK PRICES

Tomorrow, Friday 5 April at 9am CEST, I will start accepting pre-orders for ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed. Your support matters: every pre-order helps the book project and will make it that much better.

If you've followed the daily blog posts presenting the contents of the book, you alredy know that it will feature plenty of exciting stuff across its 448 pages (the same number of pages as ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions). In case you haven't read them, all the blog posts have been collected here

Everyone who pre-orders will get their contribution acknowledged in the book, plus you will get the book signed by me with a personal dedication. After I stop accepting pre-orders, no more copies of this will be signed by the author.

As an extra reward for those who pre-order during the first two months, I have knocked off 10% of the regular prices on the hardback book as well as the hardback + ebook package. These are the prices (including postage), grouped into shipping areas:

EBOOK
EUR 33

HARDBACK BOOK
UK: EUR 84 (regular price EUR 93)
EUROPE: EUR 94 (regular price EUR 104)
REST OF WORLD: EUR 108 (regular price EUR 120)

PACKAGE: EBOOK + HARDBACK BOOK
UK: EUR 93 (regular price EUR 103)
EUROPE: EUR 103 (regular price EUR 114)
REST OF WORLD: EUR 117 (regular price EUR 130)

Thank you for your support: past, present and future!

 

ABBA On Record contents - 05 The Michael B. Tretow Tapes

Published April 03, 2019

This is the fifth of six daily instalments, describing the contents of the upcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed. Day seven, Friday 5 April, is when pre-ordering starts (read more here).

In addition to the discography, which constitutes the main part of the book (detailed in Saturday's blog post), there will also be five further sections. This is the fourth of these appendices:

05 THE MICHAEL B. TRETOW TAPES

If you've read and enjoyed ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, there's every chance that this section of ABBA On Record will be one of the main attractions of the book, if not the main attraction. I've listened through hours upon hours of tapes from the archives of ABBA sound engineer Michael B. Tretow, and, as a result, I've learned so much more about ABBA's music.

The tapes fall into three main categories:

1. Michael’s on-the-side tapes, capturing what was going on during the sessions in real time. He didn't record each and every ABBA session, but what he recorded is enough to deepen our understanding of the group's working methods and how one and the same song would evolve over time. Most interestingly, some of these tapes feature run-throughs of songs that were abandoned at the backing track stage and then never heard from again.

2. Mixes of familiar songs with alternate lyrics and, sometimes, alternate vocal performances. These mixes seem to have been made at the time of the original recording.

3. Mixes of songs that were considered for the Thank You For The Music box set and/or the 'ABBA Undeleted' medley of outtakes, including some recordings that weren’t included, and some that were included but are featured here in more complete form.

So, why, I hear you ask, weren't the findings from these tapes included in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions? Without going into too much detail, at the time of writing the book it didn't seem as if I would get access to them. However, literally two days before ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions went to print, I got word that I would be able to hear them after all.

As you may imagine, my first reaction was: "Nooooooo!" Naturally, the information to be gleaned from these tapes was exactly the kind of thing I would have wanted to feature in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, and now it was too late to include it. However, 30 seconds later my perspective changed. I thought, "Well, isn't it great that I will be able to listen to these tapes at all, and isn't it better that we get this information in some form or fashion?" So, that's been my attitude ever since.

I want to stress that I'm very grateful that I got access to the tapes (in digitised form), and that no-one in particular is to "blame" for the less than ideal timing of permission being granted. Sometimes, this is just how things work out.

The tapes cover the time period of September 1974–October 1981, which doesn't mean that every session during that timespan has been recorded by Michael Tretow; it's rather a case of scattered selections over that seven year period. Moreover, sometimes you get to hear an hour from one and the same session, in other cases it's just a few minutes. Nevertheless, all of these recordings are fascinating and revealing in their own way, providing many new insights into ABBA's creativity.

My mind was blown many, many times during the course of listening to the tapes. Just when I thought I had heard the most fascinating recording, something that absolutely couldn't be surpassed, then another came along to make my jaw drop.

The Michael B. Tretow Tapes will be presented in the same chronological diary format used in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. I am almost finished with this section of the book, and I can tell you that the amount of text roughly equals the 1981 chapter in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions multiplied by three. So, again roughly speaking, the amount of text equals 75 book pages. I cannot wait to share my findings with you all.

Note: The above content description is subject to minor changes and adjustments.

Stay tuned for the next instalment in the "ABBA On Record contents" story, to be published tomorrow.

 

·         Super-exciting stuff that reveals more about the recording sessions and ABBA’s music. The tapes fall into two main categories:

·         01. Michael’s on-the-side tapes, capturing what was going on during the sessions. I don’t think these are the complete on-the-side tapes, though, but simply a selection.

·         02. Rough mixes of songs that were considered for the Thank You For The Music box set and/or ABBA Undeleted, including some recordings that weren’t included, and some that were included but featured here in more complete form.

·         Some of the on-the-side tapes feature tunes that, it seems, were never recorded properly and were never heard from again: they were only run through in the studio with Björn on demo vocals.

·         Some familiar songs with alternate lyrics.

·         Since these tapes shed new light on ABBA’s recorded work, there will be references to pages and entries in the main book so as to aid the reader in getting the full story.

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