ABBA Wood - Björn & Benny's hall of shame

Published December 17, 2015

As I'm researching facts and anecdotes for the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, I'm reminded of how Björn and Benny will sometimes express quite negative opinions on some of ABBA's songs, retrospectively. Now and then they even joke that these songs could be collected on a compilation of its own. "I've told the record company that instead of releasing Abba Gold, they should put out Abba Wood. . .but, you know, they're not so keen on it," said Benny in a 2002 interview by Pete Paphides, published in the Guardian. A few years later Björn told the Sun that, "We could probably fill at least one CD with the not-so-good stuff."

So, what would the two songwriters put on such a disc? Four songs that they've actually named are 'King Kong Song', 'Watch Out', 'Hey, Hey Helen' and 'Dum Dum Diddle'. Sick individual that I am I will admit that I wouldn't put any of those tracks on a "worst of ABBA" compilation. OK, so the 'King Kong Song' lyrics are pretty mindless, but the recording itself is super-catchy, tightly arranged and much everything you'd want from mid-Seventies pop. If that's considered "wood", then give me a whole forest-worth of it. Most of the tracks that mean a little less to me personally come from ABBA's later years, but that's more about connecting with them emotionally rather than a reflection on their worth in terms of songwriting and production: 'Head Over Heels', for instance, is not "bad", it's just that it doesn't mean very much to me.

If we were to speculate on other tracks to put on that CD, I guess most of them would come from the first two or three years of recordings: 'Rock'n Roll Band', 'Santa Rosa' and 'Åh, vilka tider' come to mind as songs Björn and Benny have made clear that they'd rather forget; from the later years, 'You Owe Me One' seems not to be a favourite. Beyond those tracks, however, I'm stumped as to what they would want to include.

What do you think? Are there really enough "wooden" ABBA tracks to fill an entire CD?

ABBA's music - golden, wooden or otherwise - will be discussed in-depth in the revised version of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, which can be pre-ordered here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com