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

The Jackpots and future ABBA engineer Michael B. Tretow made some great recordings together.

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