ABBA Wood - Björn & Benny's hall of shame

Published December 17, 2015

As I'm researching facts and anecdotes for the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, I'm reminded of how Björn and Benny will sometimes express quite negative opinions on some of ABBA's songs, retrospectively. Now and then they even joke that these songs could be collected on a compilation of its own. "I've told the record company that instead of releasing Abba Gold, they should put out Abba Wood. . .but, you know, they're not so keen on it," said Benny in a 2002 interview by Pete Paphides, published in the Guardian. A few years later Björn told the Sun that, "We could probably fill at least one CD with the not-so-good stuff."

So, what would the two songwriters put on such a disc? Four songs that they've actually named are 'King Kong Song', 'Watch Out', 'Hey, Hey Helen' and 'Dum Dum Diddle'. Sick individual that I am I will admit that I wouldn't put any of those tracks on a "worst of ABBA" compilation. OK, so the 'King Kong Song' lyrics are pretty mindless, but the recording itself is super-catchy, tightly arranged and much everything you'd want from mid-Seventies pop. If that's considered "wood", then give me a whole forest-worth of it. Most of the tracks that mean a little less to me personally come from ABBA's later years, but that's more about connecting with them emotionally rather than a reflection on their worth in terms of songwriting and production: 'Head Over Heels', for instance, is not "bad", it's just that it doesn't mean very much to me.

If we were to speculate on other tracks to put on that CD, I guess most of them would come from the first two or three years of recordings: 'Rock'n Roll Band', 'Santa Rosa' and 'Åh, vilka tider' come to mind as songs Björn and Benny have made clear that they'd rather forget; from the later years, 'You Owe Me One' seems not to be a favourite. Beyond those tracks, however, I'm stumped as to what they would want to include.

What do you think? Are there really enough "wooden" ABBA tracks to fill an entire CD?

ABBA's music - golden, wooden or otherwise - will be discussed in-depth in the revised version of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, which can be pre-ordered here:

Twelve months into ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions

Published December 10, 2015

In less than a week from now it will be exactly a year since I first announced that I was going to do a revised and expanded version of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. And what a year it's been! As those who have watched this journey will recall, the first crowdfunding campaign didn't quite work out, but, fortunately, a second attempt, ending on 9 April 2015, was successful. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who participated in the crowdfunding and helped support it in various ways, as well as to those who have placed their pre-orders after the campaign ended.

Because of all the research involved in such a project, not to mention all the analysis of facts plus the many details one needs to include, work on a book like this moves forward very slowly. The impatient side of me sometimes wishes that everything could go a little quicker - "I want all ABBA fans to learn about all the interesting stuff I've found now!" - but the more realistic side realises that this is the kind of project that simply cannot be rushed. However, in about a year from now, I do hope that the book will be in everybody's hands; publication will only be postponed in the interest of making a better book.

Today, I've been getting some writing done and what I really find fascinating with this project is how the sheer amount of detail and information amassed means that I'm constantly surprised at things I discover in my notes. For instance, when listening to alternate mixes of ABBA tracks, you'd think I remember everything I hear for the rest of my life, just because it's so exciting. This turns out not to be the case, as I discover when I go back to my notes: "Oh, that's right, there were all these variations on this particular song!" Fortunately, the notes are detailed enough that I do remember what I heard once I read it all again. There's also the factor of a story emerging from the notes, one that you didn't realise was there until you bring all the information together. That's truly exciting.

If you haven't pre-ordered your copy of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions yet, I urge you to do so here: You will not be disappointed, and every single pre-order helps make this book even better. Your support matters!