Forthcoming book about Frida's solo career

Published June 17, 2020

A couple of years ago I was contacted by ABBA/Frida fan Remko van Drongelen, asking me if maybe I intended writing a book about Frida's career as a singer before and after ABBA. I had indeed been collecting information about that subject for many years, as I have for all four ABBA members, all with the intention that one day I might write a book about it.

Remko explained to me that he didn't really care who wrote the book, his main concern was that such a book would be written. He told me that he would be willing to do it himself in case no-one else was up for it. And that's when I realised that, actually, I have far too many projects lined up and that it would take forever for me to reach the stage where I would have the time to write a book about Frida's career. Much better that someone like Remko, who was prepared to start research that very second, did this.

I was sitting on quite a lot of publicly unavailable information, and I now decided to share this with Remko for his book, which is entitled Frida Beyond ABBA. I've also tried to help him as much as possible in providing contact info, advising on this, that and the other, and going through my archives to try to straighten out question marks.

But the bulk of the work, of course, is Remko's own. And let me tell you, from what he has told me about the people he's spoken to, the facts he has unearthed, the recordings he has listened to, the lists of Frida's live performances he's shown me, and the extracts of the book that I've read, purely from an information point of view this promises to be one of the most important ABBA-related books ever published.

Like so many similar projects, the passion and dedication on part of the author is not matched by financial resources, which is why Remko has chosen to conduct a crowdfunding campaign to make the book a reality. On Monday 22 June, the crowdfunding campaign kicks off at the Indiegogo crowdfunding site; click here to learn more and place your order. I do urge everyone who can to support it, so that this milestone of a book will see publication.

There is also a Facebook page for the book, where you can learn more about the project. I for one can't wait to read Frida Beyond ABBA.

 

An early artistic jackpot for Michael B. Tretow

Published June 12, 2020

When I interviewed ABBA engineer Michael B. Tretow for ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions in 1993, he reminisced about his early years as a recording engineer, which mostly consisted of capturing what was going on in the studio, with little opportunity for enhancing the sounds. "But," he pointed out, "there was one group called the Jackpots who were more open to experimentation, and I made some interesting recordings with them."

I was reminded of this conversation when I listened to a recent episode of the podcast Popnördspodden ("The Pop Nerd Pod"), co-hosted by my friend Ulf Henningsson. This series is mainly devoted to exploring the history of Swedish pop music acts from the 1960s, from the north to the south. The research done is astounding: when you get to hear unreleased recordings by obscure bands that never released a record in the first place, you know that you're in the company of some truly ambitious people.

The latest episode was almost all about the Jackpots, and one of the songs played was the mindblowing title track from their 1968 album Jack In The Box. The album was produced by the band members themselves, but Tretow was the engineer, and I don't think it's too far-fetched to say that he contributed a lot to the sound of the record - much as he would do on the ABBA records, where he was never credited as a co-producer, even though his input went far beyond just twiddling the knobs.

In a just world, 'Jack In The Box' would have been a global hit single. But is it a just world? No. The recording survives, however, and if you're interested in hearing some great 1960s pop, and get a feel for exactly how accomplished Michael Tretow was at age 24, then I advise you to listen to this:

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