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ABBA

We Come From the Land Of Ice And Snow Where the Midnight Sun And Harsh Winds....Glow!!!

Introduction
Ring Ring
Waterloo
ABBA
Arrival
The Album
Voulez Vous
Super Trouper
The Visitors
Live
 

I'm an ABBA fan. Plain and simple.

There. I feel better getting that off my chest. Also...one time in grade school I hocked a loogie into this girl's milk carton 'cause she was such a bitch and told on me in class. No one saw me and she drank it and didn't even make a face.

See...in some people's minds the heinous act committed in statement #1 is actually EQUAL or WORSE than the heinous act committed in statement #2. As if liking extremely well-produced and melodic mid-70's Swedish pop is equal to fouling a girl's beverage with my own, no doubt virally infected and chunky, sputum. Or they may classify ABBA as being virally infected sputum itself. They may demand I turn in my Kiss Army Membership for making such inflammatory statements. And here when I'd built up such a nice reputation as the 'heavy metal/classic rock' reviewin' dude, even. Why? Why is ABBA so villified in this world of ours? Is it because, other than a few goony experiments, they staunchly refuse to rock? Is simply not being a rock band yet having countless #1 hits worldwide and sales bettering the Beatles such a crime? I guess it is. Because these four amiable Scandinavians were HUGE, and we're talking WORLDWIDE huge, even in the U.S....they were responsible almost single-handedly for how most modern pop (at least European pop, which excises almost all of the R&B that U.S. pop tends to slather all over its pop music) has sounded since about 1980. They're also the first totally pop band on my site, the first Swedish band, and (I think, anyway) the first one to have female members on my site (note: that's wrong...I forgot about Fleetwood Mac). And they've never done nobody no damn harm, neither. I'm proud of my ABBAers. ABBAites? ABsters? ABniks?

ABBA was formed in Sweden in the early 70's, though the band history dates back to some extremely embarrassing Spinal Tap-ish times in the mid- to late 60's. The two songwriters, Benny Andersson (the bearded one on pianny) and Bjorn Ulvaeus (the thin one on twanger) formed an axis and hired some younger female singers (Anni-Fryd Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog, who I'm going to call the Blonde one and the Brunette one since I've got enough on my mind without trying to remember who is who) to help them create gold-plated harmonies and hook-monster songs that just rule the house into a ditch. Not at first, of course, when they were simply Swedish local yokels, but after winning Eurovision they promptly turned into hit machines. Though their earlier albums are maybe hard to find, their later records were huge successes and are widely available despite the fact that most folks opt for the hit packages Gold and More Gold. Well, fuck the compilations! Albums here I come!


Ring Ring - Polygram 1973

So yeah, like I was saying they didn't know how to write their hooks yet when they were stuck back as unknowns in Sweden, and listening to this album is sufficient proof as such. Not like the songs here don't carry at least the raw materials for the ABBA sound, banging piano/strumming acoustic, lush but basic group harmonies on the choruses, few pointy or challenging bits to make your nose wrinkle. Actually there's one or two good hooks on this album, most notably on the title track which is (surprise!) the best tune on here by miles. Listening to this through headphones, its odd how buried the girls' vocals are on this track. What's upfront? Why the snappy guitar playing and the percussion! Is this a Rolling Stones song or is it just produced like one? Sure ain't written like one though, but there is a bit of 'rock feel' on this track to go with the first of the major ABBA vocal hooks 'So Ring! Ring! Why doncha gimme a call?' Oh yeah baby. 'Nina, Pretty Ballerina' is a cute mid-tempo soul tune and that hook works for me, but its then ruined by the ultra-dumb 'Bennie and the Jets'-esque crowd noises.

But it don't take long to see how far down this album can dive, as in on the second tune 'Another Train' where the Bjorn crooning leaves a lot to be desired unless you're Bob Denver or someone who just had hearing restoration surgery, which in case it'll probably sound good. The words won't, for 'I guess I'll spend my life in railway stations' over a bunch of hokey mellotron flute tweetings is not a hook I'll feel like remembering, thanks. Nor on 'I Am Just a Girl' which is similarly draggy. And 'People Need Love' sounds like a second rate Brady Bunch song, except the two older Brady chicks were, like SOOO much hotter than Frieda and Agneth were. Eh, fuck it, I'd do 'em all. When it's not Brady Bunch, it's frigging Bread like on 'Me And Bobby and Bobby's Brother (The Double Insertion Song)' which tickles my gag reflex in an insistent manner as well. And when they leave their pop-acoustic homeground? It hurts when they try to get a bit loud, too. The dopey bubblegum 'rocker' 'Love Isn't Easy' really sucks out loud, but the actually 'hard' 'Rock 'n' Roll Band' is okay, and considering I can actually say I like Bjorn's vocal and guitar delivery on this...maybe this is something ABBA could have done more of. It sounds like contemporary Fleetwood Mac or something, but with sweeter vocal harmonies and less prog cloudiness.

But most of this stuff is just purely MOR, not good, not offensive...like I try to find something to hate in 'Disillusion' and I can't really do it. Is being just so damn naive lyrically as to write something like 'I Saw It In The Mirror' something to hate? Well, when it's married to loping musical nothingness, I guess it can be. And if we're talking early 70's television bubblegum pop here, the slightly rocking (and distorted) 'He's Your Brother' is Partridge-y and you know, I dig it. I dig the saxes, but again not the lyrics. I'm gonna blame the lyrical blathering on their Swedishness, this being their second language and all...oh the grammar is just fine and they don't make any pronunciation mistakes at all (and never do), but maybe it would be easier for them to write lyrics that don't sound so retarded in Swedish. Oh, hell...I'm just an English teacher, whaddo I know?

Capn's Final Word: A first effort, and its obviously such. Probably a million of these sorts of albums floating around Sweden, so there's no reason for you to pick on this one.

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Waterloo - Polygram 1974

For those of you who don't know what Eurovision is, it's this hilarious annual song contest where each nation sends a representative to sing, you know, supposedly the song of the year from that country. The funny part is that most of the entries are absolutely horrid pop piffle, cliche ridden bullshit that no one has ever actually heard before. The voting (a representative group from each nation) is always very politically charged and is the highlight of the whole evening. But every once in a long while there is actually a talented artist found and popularized by this thing, and in 1974 it was our friends ABBA with the sorta hard-charging title song of their second album. If you wish, 'Waterloo' is a piano propelled, slightly 50's-rocking slick fest of the highest degree...its amazing what those girls voices can combine to be...there's just two of 'em! The song makes me do the twist, okay? It's hooky, and pushes all the 'dance' buttons really hard. It should have won, no doubt. Oh if only the rest of the album weren't the same sort of underdeveloped stuff as Ring Ring maybe we'd have something here.

The problem with ABBA at this point is that they don't use their strengths in the right way. See, a lot of songs go to Bjorn to sing, and his flat whiny croon is just nothin' compared to those girls' pipes. I think they know this, too, because the 'backup harmonies' are all over Waterloo. Things are still not that interesting on the melodic/hook front either, so they just try to fire all the stylistic bullets they have to shoot. And they have plenty. Reggae? 'Sitting In The Palmtree'. Heavy Glam Rock? 'King Kong' (which is just awful in its attempts to be Yellow Brick Road-era Elton John...but with screaming. Don't ask.) and 'Watch Out' which sounds like Kiss mixed with Lenny Kravitz doing 'Are You Gonna Go My Way?' (swear to Krishna!) and blows pretty hard. So maybe doing hard rock should be left alone by these guys. Country? 'Hasta Manana', which works wonders...these guys should really always leave their instruments acoustic. And thank God they don't try to twang up the vocals too much on this. Right now its just enough of a put-on Nashville accent to be cute. I like it! Funk/proto-disco? 'My Mama Said'...which is just white enough to be catchy, just Euro-brooding enough and just technical enough to be  interesting. See, both Bjorn and Bennie are pretty accomplished players on their instruments...no proggers, see, but definitely comfortable enough to make everything sound effortless. Hear that guitar solo on 'My Mama Said'? Short, sure, but perfect Muzak twanging.

Not all of this is experimental, though. Some of it is ABBA music 100%, rewrites of 'Ring Ring' like 'Honey Honey' or swooshy balladeering like 'Sing My Lovesong', both of which I can dig right into no problem...they're improving slowly but surely, but just need some time to solidify, see. The production of this album is already flawless in its entirety, a very luxurious listen. We just need more 'Waterloo's and fewer 'Palmtree's that's all. I'm not even mentioning the lyrics (so saccharine my tongue has holes burned straight through to the opposite side)

Capn's Final Word:  Scattershot genre experimenting can't overcome the fact that the songs aren't there yet. Sure is warm and fuzzy to listen to though.

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Abba - Capitol 1975.

Oh there are the hooks. I wonder where they'd been hiding? I'm willing to say that Bennie was holding out on us, letting Bjorn do all those songs on the first two albums so no one could ever claim Bennie was dictating the futures of ABBA. And when Bjorn finally comes up and says 'Er, buddy...I'm running a bit short on ideas for this one, d'ya think you could help out?' Bennie is right there to pick up the ball. You wanna know the difference between Waterloo ABBA and ABBA ABBA? On the overdriven ELO-clone 'Hey Hey Helen' they let the girls sing! Plus the fact that I hear a hook or two here, which is a first on an ABBA 'hard' song. Therein lies the difference. They're able to put hooks on anything here, and in any available place. Drums? There's a hook in there somewhere. Oh yeah...just give me another and I'll promise never to break the law again.

I don't like 'Tropical Loveland' though...I think reggae could be something these guys could leave their grubby Germanic paws off of, at least until they don't make it sound like one of Barry Mannilow's lesser excursions. Better than 'Sitting In the Palmtree', sure, but still not good. And the early 70's Fleetwood Mac connection is no closer than on 'Man In the Middle', which I swear was ripped right off of Bare Trees. I didn't like Bare Trees or its silly softball attempts at funk, and I like the impersonation even less on ABBA. Not all their attempt at stretching out are quite so dire, though. Their cheeseball pop-prog instrumental exercise 'Intermezzo No 1' goes down with a grin and a giggle, for example. And Benny rips it up. Sounds like the theme song to live Japanese baseball coverage!

These guys are so much more in their element doing synthesizer-enhanced pop rockers like 'SOS', which is just like a thick peanut butter and jelly sandwich full of great singing, cool melodies, perfect production, and even rocking....and not even weird simulations of rocking, but the actual performance of such action, just like on 'Hey Hey Helen' as well. And charming? You want your ABBA silly and charming? The doo wop 'I Do I Do I Do I Do...' is the tie-down and shot in the vein you need, Mr. Lou Reed. If you get off on sound, 'I Do' is so full its a bouquet of 3 dozen red roses and a deluxe box of chocolates. Or when they're simply doing their vocal gymnastics like on 'Bang-A-Boomerang' I can sit back and let the ABBAness of it all wash over me in a fit of Volvo delight. It even ends with a cute 'goodbye' song called 'So Long'...this album rules (when it doesn't suck).

You'll notice I'm again forgetting the lyrics, and there's a reason for it. If I listen deep and catch some, you know who it reminds me of? Dolly Parton, more often than not. The slow songs are 'I'm gonna love you ferever' songs, the fast ones are 'I'm gonna love you, let's party' songs and I'm sure the weird ones are about breakups or family troubles or something. But come on...this music is NOT about the lyrics, at least nothing other than the Hook Fix. Combine the Hook Fix with the perfect sound, nice playing, and melodies galore and what do you want for lyrics? I personally don't give a damn, they can sing about cream cheese for all I care. ABBA's so close to perfection that if they'd just control their quality a little more, I'm gonna throw out some really embarrassingly high grades.

Capn's Final Word: Ohhhh yeah....just let those girls sing and I'm a happy boy. Girls sing, boys play. There's the winning ABBA formula. No, no, Bjorn you step away from the mic, now. Nice lad.

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Arrival - Polygram 1977.

Success hasn't spoiled them yet, and for those of you who liked ABBA, you're only going to be even more rapturous over Arrival, which is like some sort of hit package in and of itself. Ever heard a little disco number called 'Dancing Queen'? Oh yeah baby. I don't mind saying that song is just fucking genius. I nominate this for best disco anthem of all time, even over 'Stayin' Alive' OR fucking 'Disco Inferno'...how many high school chickys have put on their hot little lowcut senior prom dresses and red lipstick to this song? The numbers must be staggering. But there are so many reasons for it being so that I'm not even going into it, not least of them being the spectacular piano part. Or how 'bout 'Knowing Me Knowing You'? That's some sexy singing right there. Is that the blonde one or the dark one doing that first part? And what about the way that hook blows in like a gale on the chorus...and Bjorn's backup stuff gets me all the time. Hook? What am I saying? There's like 10 hooks on this song! Let's list 'em:

1. The whispering

2. The keyboards on the bridge

3. The 'uh huhhhhh'.

4. 'This time we're through this time we're through this time we're through' in the background part.

5. The octaved main guitar lick following the chorus.

6. The slight chorus effect on the introduction/verse part.

7. The 'walking through an empty house' 'story ends' vocal tradeoff.

8. The heavy guitar strumming on the chorus.

Okay...there's 8 hooks in the song. But that's 8 solid hooks.

ABBA creeps ever closer to disco on The Arrival, just catch all the booty shakin' on 'Money Money Money'...or not. I can't dance to that! The beat keeps speeding up and slowing down! Is ABBA fucking with me or just flexing their monster chops again. Listen to that bass part! This isn't Paul McCartney, but it could be!

But even the non-hits are money. All of 'em. The cute bouncer 'When I Kissed the Teacher' is just as densely packed as any of the big-sellers, plus its about kissing a teacher that may or may not be a woman. Rock! Lesbian kissing rules! And kissing male teachers is even cooler (I'm a teacher right now, doncha know.) I'm cutting off now...you know enough. Buy this album....its SOOO CATCHY!!! And its still exhuberant and funny, so its even more fun than The Album!

Capn's Final Word: Don't Stand Up! Please Keep Hands Inside The Car At All Times! Not Responsible For Lost Items! WHEEEEE!!!!!

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The Album - Polygram 1978

ABBA getting serious on us? I see it right here on The Album. They don't end the record with a goofy trifle! They don't end the record on a goofy trifle! Trouble in paradise, to be sure, because by 1977 or so the band had climbed their highest and were now stars of 1963 proportions. They had a silly but good concert movie (The ABBA Movie) and #1 hits in places no one has heard from since the proctologist retired. ABBA was on top of the world, you know, and such a feeling can give rise to a huge, soaring masterpiece like 'The Eagle' but can also bust up a marriage faster than eating boiled cabbage makes the candles flare up a little bit. Did I mention the ABBA's were paired off, one A married to one B (can't remember the exact combination, but something tells me it was Bennie and the Brunette and Bjorn with the blonde)? Isn't that just precious? Bummer it wasn't quite as titillatingly incest-hinting as the pair-off combinations of The Brady Bunch, but then you can't win 'em all. We ought to thank our lucky stars we get to see the look on the blonde one's face in The ABBA Movie where the reporter tells her she's been voted as Cutest Butt In The World or something like that. Priceless. But anyway, the marriages were all broken by the time 1981 rolled around, and something tells me the enormous success and pressure around this time didn't make ABBA world an amazingly happy place. Which, to bring us around to front again, may explain the strange serious tone I get from this one.

But Its Still Just Super Good! Selling all those albums must've really pushed Bjorn and Benny to top their world-record catchiness rating of Arrival, no mean feat, but they succeed. If you can tell exactly how many picture-perfect vocal overdubs are used in 'Take A Chance On Me' you win a gold star and a kiss from the cutest girl in class. You'll be bopping yourself and singing 'takachancetakachancetakachance' all to yourself on the subway too. Did I just rip that from George? Oh well...I steal from the rich and give to myself. Probably the adjective I'd use to describe this album is stately...the slickness is now lent to a near Roxy-ish sad-but-optimistic feeling. Like on 'The Name Of The Game', which on the surface is just an 'I love you, do you love me?' tune, like one of those notes you used to send in 5th grade with the two check boxes....but deep down I feel more of a 'I still love you even though we fight all the fucking time you arrogant bearded Swedish chump, do you still love me?' thang here.

A few things bother me about this one, like why something called 'Thank You For The Music', which does exactly that, isn't placed as the last song on the album. Its a perfect wrapup, so why is it stuck in the middle of the no-mans-land of Side B? And what's the point of the guest spoken word part on 'Move On'? It's just silly, but the song does seem like it needs a bit of help as its nothing more than silly itself. But melodic! ABBA songs are always melodic in 1978! So don't think you're getting away with THAT chocolate milk, you silly motherfucking rabbit! And the ending 'Marionette', like I said, is really the darkest thing on the entire record, and we're supposed to go home on that note? Eesh! 'I'ma marionette! I'ma marionette! Pull Tha striinnng!' raises hairs on the back of my back! It's all about the constraints of fame and the loss of freedom, and its the most sincere thing they ever recorded. It's pretty fantastic, but geez, if you feel that way, no one's making you be a rock star! But its good, too, so I shouldn't make it sound like I'm bitching.

Oh gosh, a bit of odd heaviness of feel and a few blunders don't take too much of the spitshine off of my shoes, and The Album makes me as happy as ABBA ever can, so score another for the Swedish team.

Capn's Final Word: Ooooh yeah, baby. The hits just keep on comin'. That's an ugly cover tho. What are they, giraffes? Fuck me!

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dver     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Give me a group of today that can produce melodies and orchestrations like these. Great music all through the album. Those were the music times.

 


Voulez-Vous - Polygram 1979

Heh. That title means 'The Bee Gees Suck It' in Scottish.

What are you saying that I used that joke before? Screw you, buddy! I've only got a limited amount of square acreage of surface area on this central nervous system of mine, so get bent! I can't come up with original humor all the time!

Yup, after a little break ABBA returns with...of all glorious mysteries on this here Planet Earth, a disco album! Oh, I dunno how much you could really get down and boogie to this record, they're not Tavares, you know, they're European, but still more than one of these songs has that insistent thump on 2 and 4. You know, and those strings. And those horns. Don't play like you don't know what I'm talking about, you closet Donna Summer fan. But Donna never grunted her way through something as dark and...European as 'Voulez Vous'. Now that's some dense dance music. Of course, itwas also the major hit on the record, and nothing else hits quite that hard, but them's the breaks. 'Does Your Mother Know' is an awfully cute 50's-ish song about paedophiliac seduction. Isn't it funny that when Bjorn sings about some little underage hottie getting all turned on by him, and he responds by saying its cool if they dance, but that's it? Man, no wonder the Russians have all these jokes about the weird sexual habits of Swedes. Like this one:

A Russian asks a Swede what he likes better, Christmas or sex with his wife. The Swede answers 'Christmas' and the Russian asks why. 'Because it happens more often' replies the Swede.

So maybe its funnier after 2 or 300 grams of vodka. Did you know Russians often shoot vodka out of 100 gram glasses? Straight? Now that is some serious drinkin'! For those of you not through with arithmetic yet, 5 of those is half a liter...gospodi!

Anyhow, the album is okay, light and happy again for the most part after the out-of-character Album but some of their hook skills seem to be getting a tad dull. I don't like the pompous 'I Have A Dream', and the pseudo-Latin 'Chiquitita' isn't as good as 'Fernando'. It's super professional (again), faultless production-wise and performance-wise (again), but seems to have fewer of the interesting ideas that made Arrival and Album such naked women in gauzy panties. And, slap my penis and call me Cary Grant, but the disco is really some of the better stuff I've heard from that genre outside of the Rolling Stones. Take 'If It Wasn't For The Night'...hell, that's just a decent ABBA pop tune with slap bass and that insistent drumming pattern, that's all.

Capn's Final Word: Oh, hell, if you've gotten this far you'll probably find a lot to love in the band's paeon to Studio 54 and falling down into a pool of your own blood after passing out from too much Bolivian Marching Powder.

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Super Trouper - Polygram 1980

You know how I was sayin' that they already sounded a bit down in the mouth on Album, with all those references to strain in relationships and career exhaustion? Well those party pooper themes are back on Super Trouper, ABBA's big 'Return From Disco' album that had plenty of hits and blah blah blah. The title track, for example, hook laden as it may be, is about preferring to be with your loved one rather than being on stage, but then 'the Super Trouper lights are gonna find me, shining like the sun' and she puts on a smile to get through the show because she knows 'he is in the audience'. Right. You do get a super-snappy synth bass line on here, showing our boys in the background aren't content to let new technology rape their cats while they stand idly by wondering about the football scores. They seem to be content to put synth on almost all the songs, like 'The Winner Takes It All', a heartbreak ballad that's really my favorite track on the whole darn thing, resemblance to early-80's adult-contemporary idiots like Bonnie Tyler be damned. That descending melody line is fucking dramatic, man! And that brunette one Agnetha sure can sing, by Genesis! Actually a lot of the album is quite similar to these first two songs, kinda darker again, but melodic and safe (no electric guitar fucknuts like back in the mid-70's). Its almost frighteningly consistent, also...I can imagine that the songwriting axis was well greased and turning at full force at this time, so most of these songs were probably tossed off without even breaking a sweat. Shh, don't tell anyone, but there's still a lot of disco on the album, but it's 1980 synth-y disco stuff like 'Lay All Your Love On Me' which is as pretty fucking cool as the Voulez Vous disco was. These Swedes were some talented motherfathers, lemme tells ya.

As for the slight experimentation of the album, 'On and On and On and On' is flat out synth rock instrument-wise, but the good kind...the kind that sorta resembles slow punk rock. And as for the slight retreat of the album, 'Happy New Year' is a yucky remake of 'Thank You For The Music' and makes me want to go bathe as much as that one did. More. The Song From the Wood called the Piper is awful. And 'The Way All Friends Do' is goddamn choral sing-this-all-together bullshit that I fucking want to rip out of my player. Luckily its the last song on the CD.

Capn's Final Word: The last taste of the ABBA as we like to remember them, and a fine way to say goodbye to them. Not as fine as Arrival or Album, but okey dokey and sincere, if you can believe it.

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The Visitors - Polygram 1981

As I have been prophetically predicting all through my ABBA reviews written in early February 2002, the two couples in ABBA split up before The Visitors was recorded and the pain and exhaustion are just painted on this album like a cat dipped in enamel and slapped repeatedly by the tail against a plain white wall. And, much like the cat following such a procedure, the participants obviously couldn't wait to finish and get the hell outta Dodge. My ears detect that many of the ABBA mainstays have already bolted. Like, for one, where's Bjorn at all? His guitar must have ceased to exist because there sure isn't none in these grooves, Lt. Dan! Visitors takes Super Trouper's introduction of synths and runs with it. The opening title track bears more resemblance to Gary Numan than anyone else! But the off-kilter melody lines and funky rhythm section makes the thing a modern synth-rock masterpiece in my book. Actually, off-kilter melody lines (off kilter for ABBA, that is) make their appearance more than once on The Visitors. Or maybe they're just melody lines that are not that good. But then again, they're quite interesting. I'd much rather listen to something like 'Soldier' than 'When All Is Said And Done' if I were forced by penalty of death to have to listen to one of them.

Sheeit. What am I gonna do with this record? See, ABBA was so frigging professional that even in their worst possible moments they manage to make a record that is imminently listenable and never offensive out loud (other than the Bjorn-sung 'Two For The Price Of One'...yikes!), even though its no fucking fun at all. The whole thing makes me feel much like they did at the time. Like I'm forcing a smile. Fucking hate that feeling. It tires out my soul. I'd much rather put on Berlin and at least feel the catharsis of feeling really awful. But I'm sure there's a time and a place for something like The Visitors, as odd of a time and place as that may be. But I'm glad they stopped after this.

Capn's Final Word: Arrival makes me feel like dancing. Album makes me marvel at the craft they display. The Visitors makes me look at my watch. Find the good songs on More ABBA Gold, would'ya?

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ABBA Live  - Polygram 1986.

The idea of ABBA live may make most people giggle and boggle their minds, but surprise! ABBA was actually quite sweaty and accomplished as a live band, playing all the instruments for real and everything. So forget your Milli Vanilli lip-synching fears and enjoy this live album to its fullest extent. The girls' voices don't always mesh quite as seamlessly as in the studio, but they're both energetic enough to put each one of these songs over the top. It's got all the hits, at least most of the ones a non-ABBA fantatic will want (except for 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', the fuckers. I love that damn song.). I have some issues with mix, like why all that reverb glop is on the drums on 'Dancing Queen', and where the hell is the piano buried in all that nonsense? And I know this is grabbed from several tape sources from different years, but the changes in mix can be quite jarring. I mean, 'Waterloo' is all shrill and almost Phil Spector-ish! How did they get that sound live? I guess they had a million back up monkeys, that's all.

And Jesus, its unfortunately got some later pieces of slag I would rather have thrown out the car window like, (eesh) 'Two For The Price Of One'. But then, happily, there's some stuff that was never put on albums (other than the two ABBA Golds), like the faux-Latin ballad 'Fernando' and the dark disco-rock gem 'Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)', which beats the shit out of most of the things on Voulez-Vous for sure. That Agnetha is just a bottomless well of great performances when she's given good material. And the segue between 'The Name Of the Game' and 'Eagle' and the solo on the latter just press my hard-rock cheese buttons in the right way. Is that Bjorn playing all that? Oh, I doubt it.

But, in short, yes, the girls can sing that well live (Bjorn can't though...hehe!)...and no, they don't change these songs at all live. But its still mighty fun, millions of times more so than The Visitors, anyway.

Capn's Final Word: As good as you think ABBA live could be, its at least double that. But its no When The Shit Hits The Fans, either.

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