Ten days to complete the complete recording sessions? I think not!

Published April 28, 2015

If you haven't pre-ordered a copy of the revised and expanded ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions yet - or if you'd like to pre-order additional copies of this collector's item - it's not too late. Just click here: igg.me/at/abbatcrs

As I'm going through my research for the book, I stumble across all sorts of articles of varying degrees of interest. I found this little gem in a January 1980 issue of Music Week. It made me smile when I saw it: although part of me would like to speed up the process if it were only possible, I'm afraid it's going to take me a lot longer than 10 days to get ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions finished! I feel confident that it will be worth the wait, though.

Abba hit book completed in just 10 days


40 years of the Man In The Middle - and 70 too!

Published April 25, 2015

This week it's 40 years since ABBA's third album was released in Sweden. Simply entitled ABBA, it boasted major classics such as 'SOS' and 'Mamma Mia', the tracks that would truly put the group on the map as a force to be reckoned with on the international music scene.

I've previously blogged about the 40th anniversaries of the Ring Ring and Waterloo albums, focusing on their success in Sweden, so I thought I should make a few observations on this album as well. My sister had this album, making it the first ABBA LP to enter our household (my Ring Ring single was the first ABBA record). I wasn't a huge ABBA fan back then, as I've mentioned elsewhere, and I don't think anyone in our family bought an ABBA record again until I purchased the single The Winner Takes It All in 1980.

Nevertheless, the ABBA album was one of the few times that the Palm family contributed the group's commercial fortunes. The LP broke the sales record set by the Waterloo album and became the biggest-selling album in Sweden up to that time. It spent 16 weeks at number one on the Kvällstoppen singles-and-albums chart Sweden used until it was cancelled on 19 August 1975 (this was actually a radio show that presented the chart). Then, when the new albums chart was introduced on 14 November 1975 (a chart put together by the record business), ABBA spent a further two weeks at the top.

It should be noted that Sweden did in fact have a sales chart in the three-month interim between those two charts. When Kvällstoppen was cancelled it was replaced by a radio programme entitled Skivspegeln (The Record Mirror). Keeping the singles-and-albums format of its predecessor, it presented a Top Ten only (instead of a Top 20). I'd always assumed that ABBA remained at number one over those three months, but I recently stumbled across a few of the charts from that time, and they reveal that for at least a couple of those weeks ABBA were in fact at number two, with Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits at number one. This obviously needs to be investigated further and the results submitted to Trent Nickson's excellent ABBA Charts site.

At any rate, I have one personal recollection from this time. I was listening to Skivspegeln and they were doing the chart countdown. When they got to the number one album and played a track from it I didn't quite catch the name of the group, but I thought it was a really cool song, performed by a male singer. Lots of clavinet and semi-funky, I guess I would simply have referred to it as "tough" at the time. The ten-year-old me was wondering who this artist might be, that was at number one in Sweden, yet I didn't recognise them at all. My jaw dropped when, after the track had ended, it was revealed that it was ABBA. The song was of course 'Man In The Middle'.

Although this is not one of ABBA's most celebrated tracks, it obviously appealed to me at the time. And its mention here, combined with the fact that this blog is published on 25 April 2015, also gives me an excuse to wish its lead singer, Björn Ulvaeus, happy 70th birthday!


Q&A thingy in Sydney

Published April 19, 2015

Yesterday, while The Official International ABBA Fan Club were busy hosting their yearly ABBA Weekend in Roosendaal, The Netherlands, there was also a fan event taking place in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Billed as "An Afternoon with Carl Magnus Palm in Sydney", it was an informal get-together, hosted by Ian Cole and featuring a Q&A with me.

Naturally, many of the questions were focused on the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, which I'm looking forward to getting to grips with for real as soon as I return from Sydney. If you haven't pre-ordered your copy of the book, it's still possible to do so here: igg.me/at/abbatcrs

After the Q&A, which went on for an hour or so, I signed a few books and then most people stayed around for drinks and general chatting. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would like to thank everyone who showed up for making the event such a success. And special thanks to Ian Cole and his partner, Ian Marks, for taking care of the logistics of the event and generally showing me such a great time in Sydney.

There's a Q&A going on. Me and Ian Cole doing our best, while our audience listens.

There's a Q&A going on. Me and Ian Cole doing our best, while our audience listens.


ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions still available for pre-order

Published April 11, 2015

Although the crowdfunding campaign for ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions reached its goal well over a week ago, it didn't officially end until a few days ago. So now that it's ended, I'd like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to making the campaign such a success! You've all been great!

As you can see in the attached picture, I'm currently in Sydney, NSW, Australia, but as soon as I get home to Stockholm, I will start work on the book for real. I can't wait - and I will keep you all updated through posts here on my website, on the Indiegogo page for the book, on Facebook and on Twitter.

The book is still available for pre-order. Just click here: igg.me/at/abbatcrs

Flashback to 1993

Published April 01, 2015

In case you haven't pre-ordered your copy of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions in the second crowdfunding campaign, the opportunity is still there (or why not order a second copy for yourself or a friend). Just click here: igg.me/at/abbatcrs

In today's blog, I thought we might travel back in time to 29 October 1993, the day when I listened to unreleased music together with Björn, Benny and Michael Tretow in Michael's home studio. Without a doubt, this will forever rank as one of the most exciting days of my life. This was the time when songs like Put On Your White Sombrero and Just A Notion re-emerged, to eventually be released in complete or partial form a year later (on the Thank You For The Music box set).

Barely legible: the notes I made the first time I heard Just A Notion, back in October 1993.
Barely legible: the notes I made the first time I heard Just A Notion, back in October 1993.

Indeed, one of my favourite tracks from that listening session was Just A Notion, the scribbled notes about which you will see in the picture above. In the notes I tried to describe the tempo and general feel of the recording: "Boogie, Why Did It Have (slightly faster) [referring to ABBA's Why Did It Have To Be Me, of course], Waterloo". Then some other keywords: "major key, Beach Boys, lots of harmony singing, Crystals/Ronettes [I was probably thinking of a Crystals track such as Da Doo Ron Ron], Duane Eddy [the twangy guitar riffs]". Then, of course, I also scribbled down a few lines from the lyrics.

Perhaps the biggest revelation of all was Put On Your White Sombrero. When we listened to the tapes that day, sometimes none of us would have the slightest idea what to expect. Michael pushed up the faders for all of the 24 tracks on a particular tape, so that we would hear what was on there. Most recordings were in a slightly unfinished state: still very exciting to listen to, but not complete productions. Put On Your White Sombrero was different. I will never forget the feeling when those angelic backing vocals from Agnetha and Frida came on. As I recall, there were big smiles all across the room. Personally, I had goose-bumps!

I'm sure there will be further revelatory moments ahead as I research the updated edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Pre-order your copy here: igg.me/at/abbatcrs

Thanks for your support!