"We wish you the best of luck with your book" – Benny and Björn's original foreword

Published November 16, 2018

Recently, I had reason to revisit my original 1993 interviews with Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus for my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com). I was reminded what a privilege and what an extraordinary situation that was, sitting with them individually for hours on several different occasions, discussing this, that and the other from ABBA's recording career.

As if that in itself wasn't enough, they also wrote a great foreword to the book. They certainly didn't have to do that, but they did. What a thing to happen.

In case you haven't seen the foreword before, I thought I should post it here. It still makes me very happy read it, and takes me back to a very special time in my life.

Click here to read the foreword.

The revised and expanded edition of the book is available here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com


Yes, it's for real! Proudly presenting my book award

Published November 14, 2018

As previously announced, my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions has won an Award for Excellence In Historical Recorded Sound Research. The award, 2018 Best Discography in Popular Music, has been bestowed upon me by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections in the United States. I hope to travel to Portland, Oregon in May 2019 to attend the awards ceremony.

In the meantime, the association has sent me the actual award certificate. I am of course immensely proud of this award, but I also feel that a part of it belongs to everyone who has bought the book, perhaps especially those who pre-ordered it: without your faith in me, the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions wouldn't exist. Simple as that.

You haven't purchased the book yet? Wondering what all the fuss is about? More info and convenient ordering links are available here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com


Björn Ulvaeus' new book - a review

Published October 13, 2018

Update December 7, 2018: The book is now available from the ABBA The Museum shop, see link in the menu to the right.

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ABBA and autobiographies are a strange, or at least a bit unusual, story. Agnetha's 1996 book As I Am seems to have come about at the suggestion of co-writer, Brita Åhman, rather than a pressing need on Agnetha's part to share her story. Frida is currently working on a sort of fairy-tale version of her life, where she, and presumably everybody else, will be depicted as animals. And if I recall correctly, Benny said not too long ago that he's never going to write his memoirs.

Which leaves us with Björn, who has said that he has tried writing his autobiography, but found the excercise too lonely, plus he feels he has a hard time remembering things. But rather than ditch the idea completely, he has now published something of a memoir. In collaboration with London based artist Patrick Vale, who has provided illustrations, Björn has published the book You Are Who You Meet. It takes the form of chronologically presented meetings with people throughout his life: family, love interests, professional collaborators, etc.

I think this approach works really well. Instead of forcing himself to go through every itty bitty detail of his 70+ years on the planet, he provides the reader with glimpses of events that have been important to him. Björn is a good writer and he conveys these memories in a way that engages the reader. Those of us who are into those itty bitty details will notice that he's got several of the dates wrong, but I guess that's neither here nor there when the stories themselves are so interesting. There are a number of anecdotes in the book that I certainly can't recall having read anywhere before. In other words, You Are Who You Meet, modest though it may be in its scope, is essential reading for the dedicated ABBA fan.

Now, this being an ABBA member book project, there is, of course, a catch: originally you could only buy it at Björn's Slottsholmen complex in his hometown of Västervik on Sweden's east coast. The ABBA Fan Club Shop made a number of copies available to those who aren't able to travel to Västervik to buy a copy, but it is now (December 2018) available from the ABBA The Museum shop.

 

Dine (While The Music Still Goes On)

Published October 02, 2018

In 1993, when I interviewed ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus for the original edition of my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com), he told me the story of writing the lyrics for the Waterloo album's Dance (While The Music Still Goes On).

"I wrote the lyrics in a small Stockholm flat that Polar or someone working at Polar owned," he told me. "Agnetha and I had [our daughter] Linda by then, so I probably needed somewhere to be where I could concentrate properly. I remember that I had some canned food with me, called Mat för en (“Food For One”): there were two cans and then you were supposed to just heat the contents." I was eight years old in 1973, when those lyrics were written, and I had no memory of Mat för en, but ever since Björn told me the story I've tried to picture it.

A while ago I found this ad, and according to the copy there weren't two cans but just one glass jar, the contents of which you heated up by putting it in boiling water. At least this was how it worked back in 1969, when this ad was published: the Dance (While The Music Still Goes On) lyrics were written four years later. A typical product for its times: home cooking was out, time-saving ready-made dishes were in.

Such delicacies were Björn's fuel when he wrote the words for one of the best songs on the Waterloo album.

This is where Agnetha and Björn met for the first time

Published September 24, 2018

On 23 May 1968, Agnetha and Björn met for the first time when both performed at Idrottsparken in Målilla, Sweden. I believe this is the stage where they performed, picture snapped by me a few days ago.

The stage looks tiny and unglamorous? That's how they looked in many Swedish folkparks at the time. It didn't matter if you were among the biggest stars in the country or a local act - everyone had to do their shows under the same circumstances.

Here is an excerpt about that first meeting between Agnetha and Björn from my book Bright Lights Dark Shadows - The Real Story Of ABBA.

ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions wins an award

Published September 13, 2018

What an extraordinary journey my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com) has been. Latest news: I'm so proud and happy to announce that, after being nominated in January, the book has won the Association for Recorded Sound Collections award for Best Popular Music Discography. I don't even know who nominated my book, but whoever you are: thank you!

The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) was formed in 1966 and is, according to their website, “a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings—in all genres of music and speech, in all formats, and from all periods.” As part of their activities, since 1991 the ARSC Awards for Excellence has also been recognising outstanding published research. The full title of the award bestowed upon ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions is: Best Discography in the 2018 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in the category Best Historical Research in Recorded Popular Music. Phew! (The ARSC press release is here.)

There will be an awards dinner in Portland, Oregon in May 2019, which I hope to attend.

I would like to thank everyone who supported the crowdfunding campaign for the book and everyone who pre-ordered it – the book wouldn't exist if it weren't for your faith in my ability to deliver on my promise.

The extraordinary generosity and support shown by so many people when the book was written and produced also deserve special mention. It's been about 18 months since the book was published, but I'm still marvelling at the fact that everything turned out exactly as I'd hoped it would – and even better!

There are still copies left of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, but it's selling steadily, so if you're interested in a copy there's no time like the present.

Learn more and order your copy here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

How did ABBA create their music? The full story in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions

Published August 31, 2018

ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com) is a book exploring in detail how ABBA's music was written and recorded, based on extensive archive research and interviews with all four ABBA members plus many of their associates.

The book encompasses 448 pages and is a beautifully produced artefact. In a diary format, the book explores the writing and recording of ABBA's music - it's got the factual details, but also the human element: anecdotes, stories and opinions about the music from those involved in creating it. There are a number of essays taking a closer look at how an ABBA song would be created, from A–Z. And much more!

ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus calls ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions "a fantastic work", while reviewers have said that it "stands as an enlightening study of a pop phenomenon", and that it's "the ultimate ABBA artefact". More reviews here.

Read an excerpt from the book here.

Order your copy at abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com.


All about the Voulez-Vous album in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions

Published August 24, 2018

Forty years ago, ABBA were struggling with the sessions for what was to become the Voulez-Vous album, a story detailed across 56 pages in my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com). Around this time, back in August 1978, the group would have been working on 'The King Has Lost His Crown' and 'Just A Notion', the latter being one of many unreleased recordings from the Voulez-Vous sessions. Although they'd hoped to have the album finished in time for Christmas, that was not to happen - in fact, they admitted defeat as early as October. This is how I describe it in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions:

--- What had they accomplished so far? There had been plenty of recordings made, certainly, but most of them had been abandoned in various stages of completion: ‘Dr. Claus von Hamlet’, ‘Free As A Bumble Bee’, ‘Just A Notion’, ‘Hamlet III’, ‘Dream World’ and ‘Crying Over You’. ‘Lovelight’, which Björn and Benny had professed being so happy with earlier in September, had probably been deemed suitable B-side material at this stage, or would be very soon. Left for inclusion on the album, then, were ‘Lovers (Live A Little Longer)’, the full-length version of ‘Summer Night City’, and ‘The King Has Lost His Crown’; it wasn’t even enough tracks for an EP. “The prospects are not good. It’s worse than ever,” sighed Benny to a reporter. “We have no idea when we’ll be finished.” ---

Of course, Voulez-Vous was ultimately released in April 1979 and was well worth the wait, but it was certainly ABBA's most difficult album. The full story of how it and every other ABBA album came to be is in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Learn more and order your copy here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com


Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! the background story

Published August 17, 2018

Just recently, Cher's version of ABBA's Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) was released as the first single from Dancing Queen, her upcoming album of ABBA covers, the news of which made quite a splash in the world's media. But let's not forget about ABBA's original version, recorded around this time 39 years ago.

As detailed in my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com), the first version of the song was a rock number entitled Been And Gone And Done It, captured on tape during the rehearsals for ABBA's 1979 tour of North America & Europe. At that time, the lyrics dealt with a woman who finds herself at the altar even though she feels marriage is a bit old-fashioned. Then, when ABBA had finally settled on the night-time anguish theme of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, the finished recording was still subject to quite extensive editing before it was finally released as a hit single in October 1979. As with most ABBA songs, there was plenty of hard work before this tune could be unleashed on the world.

Björn and Benny have spoken in recent interviews about how impressed they were with having Cher onboard for the film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - in their eyes, although they're about the same age, she's a legend, having been internationally successful since her mid-1960s breakthrough as part of Sonny & Cher. Reportedly, they are also quite thrilled with her covers album.

Nevertheless - don't disregard ABBA's fab original versions! The full stories about Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) and every other ABBA song recorded 1972-1982 are featured in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Learn more and order your copy here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com


Obscure Björn and Benny song available digitally

Published August 10, 2018

As detailed in my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com), in July and August 1971 Björn and Benny were recording tracks for their ultimately unreleased second duo album. Agnetha and Frida joined them on backing vocals for some of the tracks. Out of the five songs recorded during those sessions, only two were ultimately released: 'Tänk om jorden vore ung' and 'Träskofolket', which made up the two sides of the next Björn & Benny single.

One of the tunes recorded that day had the working title 'O-Be-Doop', but later acquired proper lyrics. 'Ska du hänga me'', as the song was ultimately titled, was recorded by two CBS recording acts, both of which were dance bands. I have yet to locate the version by The Beatmakers (was it actually released?), but I managed to grab a copy of the album featuring the recording made by The Saints in 1975.

Just now, while I was searching for something else, I discovered that The Saints' version has been made available as a digital download. To the best of my knowledge, this album has never been available on CD, so this marks the first time this Andersson/Ulvaeus tune is available digitally.

You can listen to it on Spotify, or buy it on iTunes or Amazon (see links to the right).

The full story of those difficult second album sessions, and all other stories of ABBA's studio work up to the end of 1982, are detailed in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Learn more and order your copy here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com


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