The basic facts about ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions

Published November 29, 2016

Attention, class! Stop singing, the four of you - this is important! Today I'm going to teach you the basic facts, not of life, but about the upcoming book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com). The facts are as follows:

Fact 01: ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions is a revised and expanded edition of a book originally published in 1994. The book details how ABBA's music was written and recorded and has been re-written from the ground up. The original book encompassed 128 pages - the new edition will land at 448 pages. The book will be published 31 March 2017.

Fact 02: The author has been granted permission to listen to every surviving alternate mix tape of ABBA's classic recordings, stored in the Polar Music archives in Stockholm. The mixes have revealed many hitherto unknown aspects of how ABBA's songs evolved in the recording studio: overdubs that were tried out only to be dismissed; integral parts of the arrangement that were only added at the last minute - and much more.

Fact 03: New research and new interviews have been conducted with engineers, musicians and other people involved in ABBA's recordings. Plenty of new or long-forgotten stories are included in the book as a result. There has also been some input from ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Fact 04: The book is text-based, but will feature illustrations in the shape of recording documents, record sleeves and vintage ads, as well as a number of photographs, including some that are never-before published.

Fact 05: Everyone who pre-orders before 1 December will be acknowledged in the book, so only two days left before the deadline. (If you've already pre-ordered your name will be listed automatically, you won't have to do anything else.)

Pre-order here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

Thanks for listening. Class dismissed!

 

Rare photographs in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions

Published November 24, 2016

Exciting times in the long-running story of the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, as my ace designer, Maria Nicholas in New York City, is hard at work turning my manuscript into an actual book. I'm more than happy with what I've seen so far, and I think you will like it too.

This book is about the text, first and foremost: the information about the making of ABBA's music is the priority, so there will not be an abundance of photographs. However, there will be photos here and there throughout the book, and also illustrations in the shape of record sleeves, vintage ads, and rare newspaper cuttings. Of course, there will also be plenty of original recording sheets: many of these were in the original edition of the book, but several have not been published before. Also, in the 1994 edition, those sheets were reproduced in quite small sizes, but they will be larger and more legible in this book.

I'm well aware that many ABBA fans are keenly interested in previously unpublished photographs, so I'm pleased to report that I have unearthed rare pictures from two different recording sessions. I got wind of the first batch of pictures through a friend. The guy who took them had almost forgotten that he had them, and they've never been published anywhere - a handful of pictures from this recording session have been cleared for publication in the book.

I have known about the second batch of recording session photos for quite a long time. As far as I'm aware, they have never been published - certainly not all of them - and at this point I can say with 90 % certainty that a selection of them will be included in ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions.

New and long-forgotten stories about ABBA's music plus previously unpublished photographs - sounds like the dedicated ABBA fan's dream book! 

Pre-orders of signed copies of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions are still accepted. If you want your name listed in the book as a supporter of the project, please pre-order no later than 1 December 2016 (if you've already pre-ordered, your name will be listed automatically; you don't have to do anything else).

Pre-order here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

Crying over a drum loop

Published November 21, 2016

The revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions will cover major creative decisions made by ABBA in the recording studio - but also minor details bordering on the trivial. Here's an example of the latter.

In 1978 Björn and Benny recorded a demo of a song entitled Crying Over You, using a drum loop, extracted from another recording, as their rhythm track. Essentially, it was an early example of sampling. Back in 1994, when Michael Tretow was putting together the ABBA Undeleted medley of outtakes, he included an excerpt from Crying Over You. I remember talking to him on the phone about this recording, and he said the drum loop "probably wasn't from an ABBA song" and that "maybe it was something by Svenne & Lotta". I thought it could be something from their most recent album at the time (1978), Bring It On Home.

Well, it only took me 22 years to get around to acquiring a copy of the album and see if there was any drumming on it that sounded like the Crying Over You drums. Bingo! The opening track on the album is a cover version of The Box Tops' The Letter, and it is from this track that the drum loop was put together.

Michael said at the time he had a hunch it was Roger Palm (of Dancing Queen drumming fame, among other ABBA recordings) who was the drummer here. He is indeed one of four featured drummers on the Svenne & Lotta album, but there is no track-by-track info to confirm who plays on The Letter.

Click here to listen to The Letter.

Pre-order your copy of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

 

Recording the vocals - exclusive book extract

Published November 17, 2016

The revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions will chronicle, in diary format, how ABBA's songs were written and recorded. So much new information have been added to the original 1994 edition of the book, that the number of pages have expanded from 128 to 448. If I've done my job properly, when this book is published in March 2017, it will truly be the go-to place for anyone who wants to learn about ABBA's creativity.

Pre-orders of signed copies of the book are still accepted. If you want your name listed in the book as a supporter of the project, please pre-order no later than 1 December 2016 (if you've already pre-ordered, your name will be listed automatically; you don't have to do anything else).

Pre-order here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

In addition to the chronicle of ABBA's recording sessions, the book will also feature five extensive essays, detailing ABBA's methods in creating their music. They are as follows:

Writing the tunes

Writing the lyrics

Recording the backing tracks

Recording the vocals

Overdubbing and mixing

These essays have been extremely challenging to write, but I have to say I'm pretty pleased with how they've turned out, and so I'd like to share an excerpt of the "Recording the vocals" essay with you. This is roughly how the text will look in the book, which is just now being designed by the lovely Maria Nicholas in New York City.  I hope you will enjoy it!

Click here to read.

Pre-order the book here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

 

ABBA recorded at the Rivoli cinema...or did they?

Published November 11, 2016

At first glance, the picture to the left in the attached montage looks very familiar, doesn't it? Of course, it's ABBA's Polar Music Studio on a wintry Stockholm day. But hang on... there's something not quite right... Why does it say RIVOLI above the entrance, and those posters on either side of it, what are they doing there?

This picture was actually taken in late 1934 or early 1935 and shows us what the premises were originally used for. The building was known as Sportpalatset ("The Sports Palace"), a large complex of which the Rivoli cinema was a part (this cinema belonged to a chain known as the Ri cinemas: you guessed it: the cinema/stage area in Benny Andersson's Rival complex was once also a part of that chain). On this winter's day back in the mid-1930s, the cinema was showing the Katharine Hepburn movie Christopher Strong. The picture of ABBA was taken almost exactly 44 years later, in December 1978, as part of promotion for the studio. So until the studio finally closed on 1 January 2005, there was always something connected to show business and entertainment going on there.

It's been fascinating putting together the story of Polar Music Studio for the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. It's got a quite interesting back story, which I don't think I've fully grasped until now. The wonderful Lennart Östlund - employed as engineer shortly before the studio opened in 1978, and today literally the person that is Polar Studios - gave me an extensive interview that filled in many blanks for me and made the story come alive. Can't wait to share it with you all!

The Polar Music Studio story is just one of many revelatory aspects of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, which you can pre-order here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

And remember: everyone who pre-orders before 1 December will have their names automatically listed as a contributor in the book!