Take a chance on this

Published June 18, 2015

This week's tape-listening for the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions has been a little bit Arrival, a little bit The Album.

Thoughts of the week: So far during this project I've heard one or two alternate mixes of a particular track, but not much else. This does not mean that those mixes have been uninteresting - far from it - but it's been a small selection. This week has been different, however. Now I often find myself sitting beside Björn, Benny and Michael Tretow at the mixing desk, figuratively speaking, as they attempt a mix of a certain track, then stop the tape after perhaps only a few seconds - sometimes after a couple of minutes. Something goes wrong: someone forgets to push up a fader, or they realise that they actually don't like it when that particular instrument is that loud in the mix - or whatever else - and so they rewind the tape (and I can hear the sound of it being rewound) and start again. Fascinating.

Another observation. Those ABBA boys liked to edit their recordings. I'm not exactly shocked, but still a little surprised at how many of their songs were edited. Today I discovered a large, previously unheard chunk out of a track on ABBA - The Album. I've also heard edits that were less drastic, but nevertheless something had been taken out of those tracks. And I've heard a preliminary edit of another ABBA - The Album track where they first tried to take one bit out, but then changed their minds and decided to take another bit out. I'd say they made the right choice.

While I'm listening to the tapes, I'm typing away, making notes of my impressions, posing questions to myself, jotting down theories on what ABBA were trying to achieve with a certain mix of a familiar song, and whatever else comes to mind. A random page from my tape-listening document is what you're seeing in the attached picture.

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