Lost ABBA song available on CD - and it's cheap!

Published January 19, 2017

As I was writing the 1981 chapter of the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (which ships 31 March 2017), I was reminded about the song 'I Am The Seeker', which was little more than a backing track recorded during sessions for The Visitors. The tune later found its way into the London stage production of the 1983 musical fantasy Abbacadabra (basically, ABBA songs with new words), with lyrics by Don Black and Mike Batt.

This song, of course, was different from the other Abbacadabra tunes, as it hadn't been previously released by ABBA. In the show, it was performed by B.A. Robertson (perhaps most famous for his 1979 UK number two hit 'Bang Bang', which I quite like). I have to confess, although I own the 'I Am The Seeker' single, it's not something I have listened to a lot, but writing about the story I gave it a few spins. This in turn reminded me that Robertson's recording was actually available in digital format, on a Cameron Mackintosh tribute double-CD entitled Hey, Mr. Producer! This 1990 CD also features Elaine Paige's Abbacadabra recording 'Like An Image Passing By', with lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus (the only ones he wrote especially for this production), so there's another strong ABBA connection for you. I had the impression that this was one of those long-out-of-print-collectable-and-hideously-expensive CDs that are beyond my price range, but I thought I might check and see if it was available.

Dear Reader, not only are second-hand copies available, but on Amazon they're practically throwing it at you (in the UK, Germany and France stores, that is; at the time of writing the US store only offers very expensive copies). Naturally, I ordered the CD, and I'm listening to it as I'm typing this. Use the links in the menu to the right. NB! Beware of a similarly titled CD, which is actually a live performance and will not provide you with any B.A. Robertson recordings. Follow the links provided by Papa and you will be all right.

Your personally signed copy of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions can be pre-ordered here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

 

When ABBA sang for Gudrun

Published January 12, 2017

One reason it's taken such a long time to piece together the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, is that the facts are often more than elusive. Take, for instance, the birthday greeting ABBA recorded for Gudrun Anderson, the wife of manager Stig Anderson.

As is rather well-known, ABBA recorded birthday greetings for Polar Music Vice President Görel Hanser and for their manager Stig Anderson. These were pressed on limited edition 12-inch records. Gudrun Anderson celebrated her 50th birthday in England on 2 April 1981, and in conjunction with this, ABBA recorded a message for her as well, although it seems this was not pressed on record.

The message began with the four members introducing themselves, after which Björn said, “As much as we love your show, we have to interrupt it now as we have a very important message for our manager’s wife, Gudrun Anderson, who is visiting England today”. This was followed by a fanfare played by Benny on the GX-1 synthesizer, and then the four members sang ‘Ja må hon leva’ (“Yes, May She Live”), a traditional Swedish birthday song. This segued into ‘Happy Birthday To You’, followed by Agnetha leading the ABBA members into four cheers for Gudrun. Björn then finished the greeting by saying, “That’s all, folks. Thank you very much for letting us in”. The entire recording, including the spoken bits, runs to 01:21.

Now, judging by what is said in the message, this was actually broadcast on UK radio - or was it? Did the BBC, or a commercial station such as Capital Radio, really interrupt their regular programming for something like this? One is tempted to think that yes, they could very well have done that, since ABBA was a big deal at the time, and DJs and radio producers enjoyed fun stunts along these lines. On the other hand, wouldn't listeners be confused by it all? Perhaps a fake radio broadcast had been edited together beforehand and Stig simply played a cassette tape for Gudrun, pretending that it was a live broadcast, playing a joke on her?

To confuse matters more, there is a poor quality copy of the birthday greeting out there, starting off with someone saying "Gudrun Anderson" in what sounds like a Dutch accent. Where does this come from? Listen here: bit.ly/2igaL3l

I've asked several people close to the action whether the greeting really was broadcast in the UK, but so far no-one can remember much about it. Maybe there is someone out there who remembers this from when it happened, or who has some information? If so I'd love to hear from you. Please note: I'm not looking for theories, I'm looking for facts or leads.

The revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions will be published at the end of March 2017. Pre-order your personally signed copy at abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

What's this cat got to do with ABBA's Super Trouper?

Published January 05, 2017

One of the best aspects of conducting interviews for the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions is the unexpected anecdotes that emerge during the conversations. Take the backing track session for 'Super Trouper' on 3 October 1980 when, according to percussionist Åke Sundqvist, they had a visit from bassist Louis Johnson of soul/funk outfit The Brothers Johnson.

The duo were at the height of their career in 1980, having just enjoyed a US Top Five placing with their Quincy Jones-produced platinum album Light Up The Night and its fantabulous Top Ten Pop hit single ‘Stomp!’. On 3 October the band were playing a show at Stockholm’s Konserthuset venue, and although musicians from the African-American community haven’t been too vocal about being ABBA fans, Louis Johnson was apparently a huge admirer of the group and begged to be allowed to come and watch the session. I guess it just proves that the boundaries regarding what kind of music so-and-so is "supposed" to like are completely imaginary.

The musicians were invited to come to the Brothers Johnson concert that night; ABBA themselves were of course otherwise engaged, as this was the night when the Super Trouper album sleeve photo was shot.

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