40 years ago: Ring Ring occupies the Swedish Top Three

Published April 10, 2013

For the past couple of decades or so, it seems the most-cited chart statistics concerning ABBA have been their nine UK number ones, or sometimes their 18 consecutive UK Top Ten hits. That's natural, since the UK chart, along with the US chart, has long been the most influential and important in the international music business. But in Sweden, before those British statistics began cropping up in the media here as well, it used to be that another feat, on the Swedish charts, was held up as a prime example of ABBA's extraordinary success. And today it's exactly 40 years ago since it happened.

Back in 1973, Sweden's official sales chart was Kvällstoppen ("The Evening Chart"). The name of the chart was really the name of the radio programme where it was presented. The programme and the chart started in 1962, at which time it featured only singles and EPs; the album had yet to gain significant enough sales to feature in such charts. Starting in 1966, LPs were also listed, with  The Beatles' Rubber Soul as the first album to enter the chart. Later the same year, The Hep Stars' eponymous album became the first Swedish LP on the chart.

This mix of singles and LPs prevailed until the chart and the radio programme were cancelled in August 1975. The first LP to hit number one was The Beatles' Abbey Road in October 1969, and by 1972 more albums than singles topped the charts, often occupying the Top Three positions and reflecting the general shift to album sales in Sweden.

But on April 10, 1973, there was a single at the top of the charts. It had been there since March 20, and was to remain there for of a total of six weeks. That single was 'Ring Ring (bara du slog en signal)', the Swedish version of 'Ring Ring'. What was unique on that day in April, however, was that the English version of the song was at number two, while the album of the same name was at number three. ABBA actually managed that feat for two weeks in a row, and this was the chart statistic that once was referred to fairly regularly in Swedish media. Click here to see the chart for April 10, and here for the chart for April 17.

My birthday is around this time of the year, and since I got the English 'Ring Ring' single as a present that year, for my 8th birthday, I'm guessing this must have contributed to one of those chart weeks, at least theoretically. This was the first and only ABBA record I owned until I bought 'The Winner Takes It All' seven years later.

My record collection, small as it was at the time, was very important to me, and a few years after getting 'Ring Ring' I decided that sleeves with no pictures on them were BORING! So I set about designing my own picture sleeves for a number of singles, 'Ring Ring' included. The front is okay, although historically inaccurate: I cut a picture from a 1974 issue of a magazine called Go Magazine, and then cut the word ABBA from the headline of the ABBA article and pasted it on the picture. The picture itself was then pasted on top of the black side of the generic Polar sleeve. Click here to see the result.

However, I think you need to brace yourself for the sheer awfulness of the back of the sleeve. It's not my worst "design", I think that prize must go to The Beatles' 'Lady Madonna' single, but it's bad enough. For one thing, the handset looks like a shower head. And when I wrote the title of the B-side I couldn't have paid much attention to what it actually said on the label but rather remembered what they were actually singing. Also, you can clearly see the Polar design underneath it. Click here to experience the full horror of this masterpiece.

Considering how little I had to do with ABBA during the time they existed, I'm glad that I at least contributed to that Top Three event. They did actually manage to repeat it with 'Waterloo' the following year - but that's a blog for 2014.