Super Trouper half-speed master released 30 October

Published August 31, 2020

Following on from similar vinyl issues of Arrival, ABBA - The Album and Voulez-Vous, 30 October 2020 sees the release of a half-speed mastered 45 rpm double LP version of Super Trouper.

Three vinyl singles are also issued in tandem:

The Winner Takes It All/Elaine
Super Trouper/The Piper
Lay All Your Love On Me/On And On And On

These singles will be released in two editions:

A box set of coloured 7-inch singles

Separate 7-inch picture singles

My involvement was limited to writing the liner notes for double LP.

More info here.

 

ABBA On Record - A Progress Report

Published August 27, 2020

In April 2020, when Paul McCartney was interviewed on the Howard Stern show about the forthcoming re-edited version of The Beatles' Let It Be movie, he was asked when it would be released. The film had previously been announced for September 2020, but the current pandemic had turned things upside down. As McCartney replied, "Nobody knows when anything is coming out right now".

This is pretty much the situation I'm in at the moment with my book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed. The plan is to publish it in 2021, but there are factors beyond my control that will affect the schedule. The book will be published, no doubt about that, but the publication date is not just dependent on my own input to the project. For instance, I have promised to include information about the new ABBA songs, and at the moment we don't know when they will be made public. There are also other factors related to the production of the book that I have limited control over.

To be perfectly honest, part of the reason for the long delay is also that this book project turned out to be much bigger than I'd expected. In many ways, it's harder to see through than ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, and I'm far from finished at this stage.

However, I've been very gratified by the feedback from my proofreaders on the completed chapters so far: plenty of new information that we never knew. It's so easy to lose perspective on of what you're writing, but I'm confident that I'm doing good work and that going the extra mile will be worth it in the end.

Right now, for instance, I'm trying to make sense of the charts used in a number of countries during ABBA's heyday. In the main part of the book, I'm listing the chart positions for the various record releases, but I thought that I should also have an explanation at the start of the book on how those various charts were compiled. It's so easy to say "number one in Sweden" or "UK number one", but what do these chart positions really mean and what are they worth?

Through researching the charts I've also made a startling discovery from the very beginning of ABBA's career, that could very well have affected the future of the group. Intriguing stuff, and all will be revealed in the book. In short, I haven't lost any of my excitement for this book, and discovering new or long-forgotten facts.

Thank you for reading this and thank you for your patience in waiting for ABBA On Record. If you want to support this project, you may pre-order your copy here.

 

Forthcoming book about Frida's solo career

Published June 17, 2020

A couple of years ago I was contacted by ABBA/Frida fan Remko van Drongelen, asking me if maybe I intended writing a book about Frida's career as a singer before and after ABBA. I had indeed been collecting information about that subject for many years, as I have for all four ABBA members, all with the intention that one day I might write a book about it.

Remko explained to me that he didn't really care who wrote the book, his main concern was that such a book would be written. He told me that he would be willing to do it himself in case no-one else was up for it. And that's when I realised that, actually, I have far too many projects lined up and that it would take forever for me to reach the stage where I would have the time to write a book about Frida's career. Much better that someone like Remko, who was prepared to start research that very second, did this.

I was sitting on quite a lot of publicly unavailable information, and I now decided to share this with Remko for his book, which is entitled Frida Beyond ABBA. I've also tried to help him as much as possible in providing contact info, advising on this, that and the other, and going through my archives to try to straighten out question marks.

But the bulk of the work, of course, is Remko's own. And let me tell you, from what he has told me about the people he's spoken to, the facts he has unearthed, the recordings he has listened to, the lists of Frida's live performances he's shown me, and the extracts of the book that I've read, purely from an information point of view this promises to be one of the most important ABBA-related books ever published.

Like so many similar projects, the passion and dedication on part of the author is not matched by financial resources, which is why Remko has chosen to conduct a crowdfunding campaign to make the book a reality. On Monday 22 June, the crowdfunding campaign kicks off at the Indiegogo crowdfunding site; click here to learn more and place your order. I do urge everyone who can to support it, so that this milestone of a book will see publication.

There is also a Facebook page for the book, where you can learn more about the project. I for one can't wait to read Frida Beyond ABBA.

 

An early artistic jackpot for Michael B. Tretow

Published June 12, 2020

When I interviewed ABBA engineer Michael B. Tretow for ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions in 1993, he reminisced about his early years as a recording engineer, which mostly consisted of capturing what was going on in the studio, with little opportunity for enhancing the sounds. "But," he pointed out, "there was one group called the Jackpots who were more open to experimentation, and I made some interesting recordings with them."

I was reminded of this conversation when I listened to a recent episode of the podcast Popnördspodden ("The Pop Nerd Pod"), co-hosted by my friend Ulf Henningsson. This series is mainly devoted to exploring the history of Swedish pop music acts from the 1960s, from the north to the south. The research done is astounding: when you get to hear unreleased recordings by obscure bands that never released a record in the first place, you know that you're in the company of some truly ambitious people.

The latest episode was almost all about the Jackpots, and one of the songs played was the mindblowing title track from their 1968 album Jack In The Box. The album was produced by the band members themselves, but Tretow was the engineer, and I don't think it's too far-fetched to say that he contributed a lot to the sound of the record - much as he would do on the ABBA records, where he was never credited as a co-producer, even though his input went far beyond just twiddling the knobs.

In a just world, 'Jack In The Box' would have been a global hit single. But is it a just world? No. The recording survives, however, and if you're interested in hearing some great 1960s pop, and get a feel for exactly how accomplished Michael Tretow was at age 24, then I advise you to listen to this:

Spotify

YouTube

ABBA On Record - I'm working on it

Published April 23, 2020

It's been a while since you heard from me on the subject of my forthcoming book,  ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed, so here's a report from CMP headquarters.

The main message is: I'm working on it, and everything's going really well. I try to avoid the dreaded C-word that's on everybody's lips these days, but I can report that the current, depressing state of the planet doesn't affect my work very much. I've been working from home for the best part of three decades, so I just go on as before. In a way, isolation is my natural state of being.

For me, writing books isn't only about imparting whatever knowledge I may have amassed through research, but also about the excitement of my own discoveries. It's often only when I pull all my research together on a certain subject - say, the release of the 'SOS' single, to take a random example - that the full story reveals itself to me. It's such a buzz, and suddenly the almost-mechanical hoarding of information becomes meaningful. It's happening a lot when I'm working on this book, so I'm confident that you will feel the same buzz when you read the finished work.

I'm keeping safe and staying healthy. I've always been a walk-a-holic, and these days, since I avoid public transport altogether, my walks are even longer, which can only be a good thing. I help an elderly lady in my building with the shopping, which feels good: at least I'm doing something for the show (ABBA fans will understand the reference). But otherwise it's work as usual.

The delay of the book - I naïvely had originally expected to publish in the spring of 2020 - has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It would have been disappointing not to be able to do some kind of event when ABBA On Record is published, and I do hope that will be possible when the book is finished in 2021.

In the meantime, thanks again to everyone who has pre-ordered the book so far. Your excitement and faith in the project is what now enables me to concentrate fully on writing the book.

If you want to learn more about the book and perhaps support the project, please visit abbaonrecord.com.

 

BLOG ARCHIVE