Imagine getting THAT as a prize - ABBA's Greatest Hits remembered

Published November 26, 2015

This month it's 40 years since ABBA's Greatest Hits was first released in Sweden. In the Scandinavian countries, ABBA's first three albums had already been very popular, but in the rest of the world Greatest Hits, and similar collections entitled The Best Of ABBA, constituted the first truly successful ABBA albums. Greatest Hits did go to number one in Sweden on 11 December 1975 and remained there until 2 February 1976, when it was replaced by Frida's solo album Frida ensam. However, compilation albums weren't very huge in Sweden at the time, and although the album certainly sold well, the ABBA album from earlier in the year sold much better - a marked contrast to most other countries.

A personal memory: When I was studying English at Stockholm university back in 1990, we had a sort of show-and-tell exercise, where we were supposed to bring along a picture and talk about it in front of the class. One of the girls in the group brought along Greatest Hits, the sleeve of which meant a lot to her when she was younger, but she didn't know the back story. Fortunately, I was there and could tell the assembly that ABBA had won the drawing by artist Hans Arnold as a prize when they were voted Artists of the Year by readers of the weekly Vecko-Revyn in 1975. They liked the drawing so much that they decided to put it on the sleeve of their Greatest Hits album. Our teacher, who was from England and apparently oblivious of the central place Hans Arnold's work had in post-war Sweden, was silent for a few seconds. And then he said: "Imagine getting that as a prize..." You can't please everyone, I guess.

Greatest Hits and all of ABBA's other albums and recordings will be discussed in detail in the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Pre-order your copy here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com