ABBA Voyage - my media appearances

Published September 06, 2021

Thursday 2 and Friday 3 September will go down in history as two of the most insane days I have ever experienced. TV, radio and press interviews from morning to night, new requests coming in all the time - so many that I had to turn some of them down, simply because I couldn't fit them all in. A friend of mine joked that I should get a media representative to handle all the requests, and in fact, for those two days I would have needed one.

It was exhausting, but above all a lot of fun, as I tried my best to speculate on what we would be getting on the night of 2 September, when ABBA would unveil some big news. Afterwards, I scrambled to convey my first impressions of the two new songs - I Still Have Faith In You and Don't Shut Me Down - and the revelation that we would get an entire studio album. Plus, of course, the digital avatar concert experience.

Here's a list of my 40 ABBA Voyage-related media appearances in roughly chronological order - the ones I'm aware of and that can be accessed online, that is! At the time of writing, all items should be accessible for everyone (except where otherwise noted).

A few items are not directly related to ABBA Voyage, but their publication happened as a result of the renewed interest in ABBA in the Voyage announcement time-frame.

Are the stories from online newspapers etc. not in your language? Then please use Google Translate.

27 AUGUST


30 AUGUST

The ABC Evening Show with Sarah Macdonald [Australia]

2 SEPTEMBER

UK BBC Radio, local radio stations - clips made available thanks to the efforts of Trevor Barker:


3 SEPTEMBER


4 SEPTEMBER


6 SEPTEMBER


7 SEPTEMBER


9 SEPTEMBER


10 SEPTEMBER

  • Expressen [Sweden, behind paywall; not actually about ABBA Voyage]

11 SEPTEMBER


13 SEPTEMBER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIC Izvestia

Alex Schulman item about ABBA

Published September 06, 2021

Alex Schulman item about ABBA, Dagens Nyheter, 6 September 2021.

Two hours of local BBC Radio interviews

Published September 01, 2021

Various media want to talk to me about ABBA Voyage, and who am I to turn them down? Exact times etc. aren't clear yet, but I will post as soon as I have them.

What I can tell you is that tomorrow, Thursday, I will spend two hours talking to a number of local BBC Radio stations (in the UK). This is the schedule, technology allowing:

08:00-10:00am

0808 TEES
0815 WILTSHIRE
0822 CUMBRIA
0830 JERSEY
0838 DEVON
0845 H&W|
0852 BERKSHIRE
0915 SHROPSHIRE
0922 LANCASHIRE
0930 CAMBRIDGESHIRE
0938 KENT
0945 NEWCASTLE

During those two hours I will also be pre-recording LINCOLNSHIRE, SOLENT and DERBY for later broadcast (unclear exactly when).

 

ABBA On Record - have your name printed in the book

Published August 31, 2021

In the midst of the ABBA Voyage storm, work on my forthcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed is ongoing. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to writing about the new ABBA songs in the book.

Those who pre-order the book, get the following perks:

1. Your name printed in the book in a list of pre-order contributors.

2. A signed copy of the book: "To [your name]" and my autograph.

Since I hope to publish the book sometime in the first half of 2022, I need to get some practical things in order within the next few months. Therefore, if you want your name printed in the book as a contributor, you will have to place your pre-order no later than 31 October 2021. So that's within two months from now.

Pre-orders will still be open after that date, but after 31 October 2021 you won't get your name printed in ABBA On Record.

ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed is more than a companion volume to ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions. It takes a look at what happened with ABBA’s music once it had left the recording studio: single by single, album by album. It presents the stories behind the iconic album sleeves, explores how the record companies worked with ABBA releases in presenting them to the record-buying public, shows what kind of success – or lack thereof – they enjoyed, and presents a selection of review excerpts to give a flavour of how the singles and albums were received by the media at the time.

There are also exciting appendices, the most enticing of which will be the revelations of The Michael B. Tretow Tapes (on-the-side recordings made in the studio) and the story behind the new ABBA songs.

Read more and place your pre order at abbaonrecord.com. Your support matters!

 

Fab Dutch ABBA TV series - you can watch it!

Published June 11, 2021

As announced earlier this year I was interviewed for a Dutch TV series and documentary, Take A Chance On Me, all about ABBA. The set-up is that musical duo Nick & Simon and their friend Kees travel to Sweden to meet up with people who had some connection to ABBA, plus also do a few musical performances. The story of ABBA is intervowen into this format.

First, six episodes were broadcast, showing the making of the documentary, followed by the finished documentary. The series concluded recently and I am in the final "making-of" episode and then in the actual documentary.

As of this writing, both that episode and the documentary are available to watch online. Since I could watch them in Sweden, I guess the programmes are available in many other countries as well - hopefully including yours. You will have to sit through a couple of Dutch commercials, but it's worth the effort, as both the series and the documentary are quite ambitious.

Contrary to many other European countries, The Netherlands don't use dubbing on television, so when people speak English in the interviews, that's what you will hear as well.

Watch the making-of episode, where I'm interviewed about ABBA's album sleeves, here.

Watch the finished documentary here.

 

A proofreader has his say on ABBA On Record

Published June 10, 2021

For an incredible 22 years, fellow ABBA fan and author of the fab book ABBA: Song by Song, Ian Cole, has proofread virtually everything I've written in the English language. Right now I'm keeping him busy with my forthcoming book ABBA On Record, which I currently hope to publish in the first half of 2022.

Since Ian will have more of an outside fan perspective as a reader than I have as a writer, I asked him to share his thoughts on the book and what he's read so far. So, without further ado, heeeere's Ian:

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As readers of this blog will be aware, ABBA On Record grew out of the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, published in 2017. Additional details about the release, promotion, and reaction to ABBA's records that didn't fit into that book due to space.

Carl Magnus has been busy researching and writing the new book for quite a while now, finding more information that will make ABBA On Record just as interesting and essential as The Complete Recording Sessions.

Again I've been honoured to help Carl Magnus with proof reading the manuscript of the work in progress. So far we've worked through chapters covering 1972 to 1976, from the first single People Need Love, through to the Arrival album and Money, Money, Money single.

What's been included so far is fascinating, and expands so much about what we've known for decades about ABBA's records and promotion. On top of the research that Carl Magnus has already collected over the past 30 years for various projects which has come in handy for this book, he has tenaciously trawled through archives to find long-lost details from the various record companies that released ABBA's records around the world (including, of course, Polar Music in Sweden), contemporary reviews and advertisements, actual sales figures, and single and album charts in several of ABBA's major markets. He has interviewed people who were involved in the release and promotion of ABBA in Scandinavia, the UK, USA, Australia, and more. He has delved into promotion on TV and radio, ABBA’s classic TV specials, and pivotal performances.

The book is a fascinating journey. We read about the early days when packaging and promotion seemed almost an afterthought, such as the Ring Ring album sleeve being cobbled together with existing publicity photos (the one on the front being many months old); developing coordinated concepts for ABBA's image, such as the costumes worn for Eurovision-winner Waterloo in performance, publicity photos, and album cover; the lack of control of ABBA's record releases around the world with a wild variety of record sleeves; the unfettered promotion of ABBA on TV that led to massive overexposure in Australia; and attempts by Polar to reign in and standardise the look of ABBA's releases that started with the creation of the classic ABBA logo. These topics and more in the book have been covered before, but never with so much detail or analysis.

In addition, I was thrilled to read the chapter on the so-called Michael B. Tretow tapes, which ABBA's recording engineer surreptitiously recorded on the side during some of ABBA's studio sessions. These tapes have revealed many amazing discoveries, which add to or in some cases contradict previously known details about some songs, plus fascinating glimpses of music that never advanced beyond tryouts that weren't committed to proper studio recordings, and thus were not reported in The Complete Recording Sessions. Intriguingly there are songs that until now no one has heard since those studio sessions, while there are other snatches of melodies that have popped up many years later in other songs created by Benny and Björn in post-ABBA projects.

Recent discussions between us hint that there is even more exciting information to be revealed. Carl Magnus tells me he has tracked down several people who were present for the Super Trouper album sleeve shoot. I'm looking forward to reading what will come in future chapters. I'm sure you'll be as excited as I am when the book is published and you all get to read what I've been lucky enough to view so far.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ian!

Learn more and pre-order your copy here.

 

Interviews for ABBA On Record - a tangled web

Published May 25, 2021

First things first: I'm still working on my forthcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed virtually every day. It has taken much, much longer than expected, and for that I'm truly sorry. But it's all for a good reason: more work on the book will give the reader better value for money, as the extra time goes into doing more research and conducting more interviews. Another obstacle is, of course, the new ABBA songs, which I've promised to cover in ABBA On Record. The songs have been delayed several years, which no-one anticipated when they were first announced in April 2018. And until they have been released - according to ABBA themselves, one or more will definitely be issued before the end of 2021 - I won't be able to write about them in the book.

Meanwhile, of course, I concentrate on the main parts of ABBA On Record. I'm not one of those writers who do all the research and interviews first, then go on to write. For me, it's a parallel process. However, you will be pleased to learn that I'm currently in the process of wrapping up most of the interviews. There may be one or two later in the year, but I'm trying to reach an end in that process. This is an indication that I'm starting to see the end of the project.

Securing interviews is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you. While you can track down some people easily, and they agree to be interviewed equally easily, with other potential interviewees it may be a long, arduous journey. Social media has made it easier to find people, but then actually connecting with them is another kettle of fish. Unless you're friends on Facebook, for instance, they won't necessarily notice that you've sent them a message. And if you send a friend request, they may not even be aware of it: not everyone's on Facebook regularly, nor, consequently, observant of all the alerts they might be getting.

Sometimes you have an actual email address, but that's no guarantee that you will receive a reply. Because the person isn't interested and they reason that "if I don't reply, this guy will know that I haven't got anything to contribute"? Or is it because your message has been classified as spam or somehow been lost in cyberspace? You can never know.

You might phone them up and be met by voicemail; with so many unwanted "Hello Sir, do you have Windows?" calls these days, people tend to screen their calls. You might leave a message, but that's no guarantee they will call you back or answer your call the next time you try the number. In one case, where I had the feeling that "this might be a person with valuable insights, if I could just get hold of them", I even resorted to sending a good old-fashioned snail mail letter. It led to an initial contact, but, for whatever reason, fizzled out just as quickly again. No-one's obliged to be interviewed by me, of course, but it's just so much easier when you get a firm "no". Then you can move on.

The above may sound as I'm complaining - and maybe I am, a bit - but the setbacks are more than balanced by the many friendly people I've talked to in the course of this book project. Some of them have been patient beyond anything I had the right to expect, and even put me in touch with other people they feel I should talk to, and so on. And it's all going into the book, making it so much better.

Recently, I've been concentrating a lot on the Super Trouper sleeve story, and I've already secured a number of "I was there" stories that will add colour and depth to my re-telling of that photo shoot. Can't wait to share it with you all. At the moment it looks like I will be able to publish the book in the first half of 2022 - if ABBA do indeed release some new music in 2021, like they've promised.

You can learn more about ABBA On Record here and, if you should feel so inclined, support the project with a pre-order. Your support matters!

 

New ABBA series starts airing in The Netherlands

Published April 29, 2021

I am one of many Swedes interviewed for the new ABBA series "Nick, Simon & Kees: Take a chance on me", which starts airing on Dutch TV tomorrow, Friday 30 April 2021. If I recall correctly, it's a six-part series.

Applying the format from a previous series about Simon & Garfunkel (one of the duo Nick & Simon's inspirations), this time the team has travelled to Sweden to trace the history of ABBA: out of the three, it's Kees who's the major ABBA fan.

Apart from myself (interviewed at Julius Kronberg's studio, where The Visitors sleeve was photographed), ABBA-related people appearing in the series include guitarist Janne Schaffer, costume designer Owe Sandström, and tour sound engineer and ABBA pal Claes af Geijerstam. I believe Tonny Roth of the Hootenanny Singers may also have been interviewed for it, along with lots of other people.

The production team was quite ambitious, so there's every chance this might be a good series.

Read more here (in Dutch).

Thanks to Jan van den Berg for the alert.

 

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