ABBA - THE ALBUMS 1973 - 2021



"RING RING"

1973



RING RING - The title track is one of the earlier memorable songs from the Abba catalogue.  A perfect slice of Europop which gave Abba their breakthrough in several European countries at the start of their career.  A simple mid tempo musical backing with one of those classic, memorable, catchy choruses for which the band became famous, made this a great start of this Pop phenomenon.
 
 

ANOTHER TOWN, ANOTHER TRAIN - A melancholic, gentle Folk Pop ballad.  Laid back, melodic, easy listening track that lilts along nicely.  Bjorn Ulvaeus takes lead vocals with the usual singing ladies, Agentha Faltskog and Anni-frid Lyngstad backing up on the simplistic chorus.

DISILLUSION - The only Abba released song to have a songwriting credit to Agnetha.  She takes lead vocals too on this rather beautiful Pop ballad.  A really nice song giving Agnetha full rein to guide it with her vocals.

PEOPLE NEED LOVE - A Folk Pop track with a Euro influence.  The debut single when Abba were known simply as "Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-frid.  Not knowing if there was even going to be an album or a band this was included on this debut from Abba.  Catchy, positive track with a memorable chorus.

I SAW IT IN THE MIRROR - This track isn't the best from a superb catalogue of Abba tunes.  It is not one of my favourites and by all accounts also by fans.  It meanders along in dirge-like fashion.  Hardly any distinguishable features that lift the song.  The girls try to lift it but it is hard work.  A disappointment, thankfully their songwriting improved over the years!

NINA, PRETTY BALLERINA - A cutesy, quirky little Europop midtempo, almost child-like track.  Nice enough but not one of their best.

LOVE ISN'T EASY (BUT IT SURE IS HARD ENOUGH) - A little Country styled song with a Folk vibe.  There are moments where it almost rocks up a gear.  A little repetitive and not in a good, catchy way.  An 'ok' song by this legendary group's standards.

ME AND BOBBY AND BOBBY'S BROTHER - Lyrically quite child-like but then this was the band's first album where the songwriting craft was still to perfect.  A Folk style Pop track that clearly is a filler.

HE IS YOUR BROTHER - All four members join in with this track, a great track that has a little of everything that made Abba famous.  Pop and Rock moments with some great melodies and harmonies.  A little heavier Country Rock track.  


SHE'S MY KIND OF GIRL - This track was actually released in 1970 as a Bjorn & Benny single.  It only features the two guys and is a kind of Simon & Garfunkel/Everly Brothers track.  Nice 60s style Folk Rock with a great melody and harmonies.

I AM JUST A GIRL - Agnetha I think on lead vocals but she fails to lift this dour Jazz chanteuse style track.  Disappointing and uninspiring.

ROCK N' ROLL BAND - A great track, obviously has elements of Rock N' Roll but also Country and Pop Rock.  Its almost Progressive Rock style ends the album on a high.  Love this track.


 "WATERLOO"

1974


WATERLOO - The band's second album opens with the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest winner and global smash cementing Abba's name in music history.  The timeless classic hit number 1 in the UK and as with most Abba songs is a staple at any party.  Catchy Pop/Dance/Rock , nothing more to say than "class".

 

SITTING IN THE PALMTREE - Lead vocals by Bjorn on this track, it is a kind of summery almost Reggae Calypso song,  Laid back and engagingly catchy.

KING KONG SONG - Bjorn again joins the Agnetha and Frida for this track's vocals.  This is a brilliant Glam Rock style track.  Catchy chorus and powerful vocals by all, with a really cool melodious chanted chorus.  Could have easily been a single.

HASTA MANANA - Spanish for "Until Tomorrow", this track is a female crooning styled track of old style Pop from the late 50s to early 60s.  Simialr to the female singers of the time like Connie Francis and Brenda Lee, beautifully sung by Agentha here.

MY MAMA SAID - Not a favourite of mine this one, it seems to meander along without a kick.  It's almost hitting a Funk Disco vibe but holding back somewhat.  It would work better with more Funk at the fore I think.  Still its a rarity of an Abba song not to click with me.

DANCE (WHILE THE MUSIC STILL GOES ON) - A song that gives the feel of Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound from the 60s.  Everyone including Benny joins in the vocals on this track.  Its Motown feel and soulful singing make this a great song.

HONEY, HONEY - Classic Europop singalong.  Everyone knows this song, I even thought it was a cover version at the time because it felt like I had heard it many times but it is an Abba composition.  It is light and catchy and Bjorn joins the girls again on this track.

 

WATCH OUT -  Bjorn takes charge on vocals on this manic Glam Rock/Classic Rock track.  Brilliant track and shows the band were not just a bubblegum Pop outfit as was once claimed by so called music critics.  They cover all genres.

WHAT ABOUT LIVINGSTONE - This track supposedly about explorer David Livinsgstone.  Its a kind of Alternative Country Pop.  It is bright and breezy but not up to the standard of Abba classics.

GONNA SING YOU MY LOVE SONG - A big powerful Pop ballad sung brilliantly by Frida on lead vocals.  Bags of emotion and a great love song.

SUZY-HANG-AROUND - Benny leads this Progressive, Psychedelic Rock styled track.  It is nice and takes you back to the hippie times of the 60s.  Reminds me a little of the Alternative Pop played by The Monkees.

RING RING (U.S. REMIX) - The classic track and title of the previous album remixed for Americans!


"ABBA"

1975


MAMMA MIA - Abba's third studio album is almost like a hits album in itself with so many well known songs on it.  This opening track was a mega hit across the globe and was the sixth single from the set and the first UK number 1 since "Waterloo".  A classic Abba song, Europop merging with Progressive 70s Rock, a pure timeless gem.

HEY, HEY HELEN - A little Disco, a little Glam Rock and a little Europop. A simple but effective and engaging experimental track.

TROPICAL LOVELAND - Frida carries this song in a Calypso Regga Pop style. It's a nice, summery, feel good, relaxing track.

SOS - Reaching number 6 on the UK chart, this is one of my favourite Abba tracks.  An anthemic Rock Pop classic sung beautifully by Agnetha.

 

MAN IN THE MIDDLE - Led by Bjorn on vocals, this is a cool, funky track with a great chorus and laid back, sleazy attitude.  Love it.

BANG-A-BOOMERANG - Both girls are back on vocals for this song.  A typical Europop style with a hint of 60s Wall of Sound Motown.  It is catchy and again memorable. Not released as a single in UK but was a minor hit in several countries.

I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO - The third single from the album only reached number 36 on the UK chart.  Its a nice piano led Pop ballad but not one of my favourites, I must admit.  Beautifully sung with orchestrated backing but doesn't really go anywhere for me.

ROCK ME- An absolute favourite of mine.  Led by Bjorn as is usually the case on the rockier songs.  His throaty, hard rockin' vocal merges with the infectious beat and guitars to make a melodious old fashioned Rock 'n Roll track.  Nice.  Interestingly not a single worldwide but a hit in Australia and New Zealand!


INTERMEZZO NO1 - An almost Classical/Progressive Rock instrumental, both eerie and off beat quirky.  Its cool if you like instrumentals, but for me Abba is the vocal harmonies..

I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU - A big powerful Pop ballad sung by Agnetha.  It's anthemic Europop, its not a great Abba song for me, but then it has a lot to live up to!

SO LONG - Similar in vein to "Waterloo", the Rock 'n Roll Pop style is brilliant once again.  Another favourite of mine of so many.  The first single on the album released in a handful of countries but not UK and yet we still all know it, like so many of the band's lesser songs.


 "ARRIVAL"

1976


WHEN I KISSED THE TEACHER - The opening track to the fourth album from Abba is a lighthearted whimsical light Pop Rock track about a student who can't handle the crush anymore more and kisses the teacher! If anyone else made this track it would be scandalous but this seemed to have gone by the censors.  It is a breezy track to open a great album.

DANCING QUEEN - Every party staple since this was released.  An all time classic, number 1 in the UK and numerous other countries and even their only USA chart topper.  Unmistakeable intro, catchy chorus and a pumping Europop Disco beat with slower vocals, a gem.

 

MY LOVE, MY LIFE - A simply beautiful ballad, sung by Agnetha.  Such pure vocals and a melancholic melody that is both positive and heartbreaking.

DUM DUM DIDDLE - By any other artist this would be a ridiculous, banal Eurovision entry.  The fact that is sounds pretty decent despite that is such a testimony to Abba that they can make anything sound music worthy!

KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU - Another classic rolls off the line on this album.  The third single from this set and reached number 1 in the UK and its another of those magical memory inducing songs. Sung this time on lead by Frida.  

 

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY - The big hits kept coming for Abba with this great Europop Rock styled track.  Again with Frida on vocals, it sounds almost like a James Bond theme with its dramatic orchestral-like backing.  Only reaching number 3 in the UK chart but a massive hit all over.

THAT'S ME - This track would not be out of place on the "Voulez-Vous" album with its pumping Disco beat.  Although deep into the next decade Erasure would come around, this surely would have been one of their blueprints.  Electronic Synth Pop Abba style.

WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE ME? - 60s slow Rock 'n Roll track here with Bjorn joining the girls for the vocals.  It has a great Jazz Blues feel too.  Cool.

TIGER - An uptempo Pop Rock track that wouldn't have been out of place in the early 80s.  It is almost New Wave Disco.

ARRIVAL - To finish the album, the band go for another instrumental offering, I actually like this one.  It has a nice  Gothic Folk feel in composition



"THE ALBUM"
 
1977


EAGLE - The album opens with one of my alltime favourite Abba songs.  Its mystical, space age, almost sci-fi musical backing and effects really got my mind engaged.  This is just a superb composition, and in headphones this whisks you away into the sky, free as a bird.  Almost 6 minutes of class.
 
 

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME - One of the band's most successful singles, a great sing-a-long memorable chorus and chug-a-chug style backing.  Europop Disco at its best.  
 
 

ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN - Piano and synthesised led track with string parts make this a lovely ballad with Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad) on the leading vocals.

THE NAME OF THE GAME - Such a clever song, so many different sections in the song, even the vocals are jointly led by Frida and Agentha Faltskog with solo parts too.  There is a lot going on and is very complex if you listen closely.  Another hit single.

MOVE ON - This is a Waltz song that starts off like a Trucker song like "Teddy Bear" by Red Sovine in 1976.  Bjorn Ulvaeus starts the talking first verse then Agnetha takes over for the rest of the song.  A nice song but lacks the engaging quality of other songs, but to be fair, the best Abba songs are tough to beat.

HOLE IN YOUR SOUL - An Electronic Rock N' Roll song, catchy chorus and great beats and tempo.  This was a re-working of one of the tracks in the following "mini musical" originally called "Get On Your Carousel".

(THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN HAIR - 3 scenes from a mini musical)

THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC - This is the well known song that wasn't released as a single until 1983 to promote a Greatest Hits package.  A great song that fans were singing to Abba after they split. This mini musical was played on live tours.

I WONDER (Departure) - This is pure musical that wouldn't have been out of place in something like "Evita".  Frida takes lead vocal over a variety of orchestral instrumentation.

I'M A MARIONETTE - This is a Rock Opera type song.  Electronic Progressive Rock? Is there such a thing? this could be it!

 

"VOULEZ-VOUS" 

1979


AS GOOD AS NEW -  Abba's Disco styled sixth album opens with a stomping, fast paced funky track sung on lead vocals by Agnetha.  The lyrics may be not as inciteful as some of the Swedish band's tracks but its got a great feel good vibe.  A simple but effective introduction. 

VOULEZ-VOUS - The title track hits that perfect Disco beat and sound, a classic Abba track and in my opinion, one of their best.  Although the album is a year before the 80s this is straight out of the mid 70s club Disco scene.  Great track and reached number 3 in the UK chart.

 

I HAVE A DREAM - Frida takes lead vocals on this melancholic but positive track.  It is a beautifully crafted song.  It reached number 2 in the UK chart held off by Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall".

ANGELEYES - Another favourite of mine.  Released as a double A side with "Voulez-Vous" but its a great song in its own right.  Another catchy Disco Pop track, great harmonies and melodies as usual.  Timeless classic once again.

THE KING HAS LOST HIS CROWN - A mediocre track for me, although ably sung by Frida.  It moves away from the Disco sound and this is just an average Pop ballad.

DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW - Class track and another favourite.  Bjorn again taking lead vocal duties on the rockier songs.  This is great,  a pumping Disco beat with Rock leanings, great backing and harmonies from the girls.  Brilliant and reaching number 4 on thr UK chart.

IF IT WASN'T FOR THE NIGHTS -  This is like a Motown Disco track from the early 70s.  It's not a bad song but fails to grab me like most Abba songs.  Maybe because it sounds like many other songs of this genre, whereas Abba are usually pretty original.

CHIQUITITA - Absolutely love this song, really emotional and uplifting.  In Spanish it means "little one" but the single was huge reaching UK number 2.  Agnetha takes the main lead vocals but the chorus is so anthemic the track became one of the band's biggest hits.

 

LOVERS (LIVE A LITTLE LONGER) -  Frida and Agnetha exchange vocals in this orchestrated/guitars hybrid of a mid tempo Disco tune.  A decent track if not a great one.

KISSES OF FIRE - Half Pop, half Disco, this track is pretty cool.  It is like a mix of all the tracks we have previously heard with elements of everything.  Good track to finish.

"SUPER TROUPER"

1980


SUPER TROUPER - The UK number 1 title track opens the band's seventh studio album.  "Super Trouper" returned the band to their inimitable catchy Pop Rock style after the Disco sounding "Voulez-Vous".  Although this was not the last album before the break up, this seemed a fitting end and was their last good album in my opinion.  "The Visitors" that followed seemed a bit hollow.  

 

THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL - A poignant song as everyone knew about the rocky marriages within the band and sensed this was about that.  Whether that is true, who knows, Bjorn once denied it.  The fact is, its a great song and again reached number 1 in the UK chart.  Led by Agnetha on vocals it is emotionally sung and is a major Pop ballad.

 

ON AND ON AND ON - This track is almost popping back to "Voulez-Vous" with its pumping, incessant beat.  I think it is more like an 80s Synth Rock song.  Love it even though it sounds simplistic in composition and lyrically.

ANDANTE, ANDANTE - Andante technically means "moderately slow" and the song is exactly that.  Frida sings lead vocals nicely but this song fails to lift off the ground.  It is a nice enough Europop ballad but not great Abba material.

ME AND I - Frida again takes the lead in this sometimes moody, sometimes quirky Synth Pop track.  The chorus lifts the song from being just an average Electronic track.

HAPPY NEW YEAR - A nice, relaxing, laid back, positive and hopeful sounding Pop track that has featured on many a Christmas/New Year playlist since its release.

OUR LAST SUMMER - Frida leads this musical-style Pop Rock track that again for me, fails to lift me to any height of glee.  It is nice enough but sounds, as I stated, like a musical number for the theatre not an album track.  Maybe Benny and Bjorn were experimenting for their later careers writing for musicals!

THE PIPER - A big favourite of mine, I remember buying the "Super Trouper" single and yet was playing this B-side on a loop|! I loved to sing along to the chorus and the medieval and Celtic sound of the track got me hooked.  Brilliant.

LAY ALL YOUR LOVE ONE ME - Seems to be a favourite with some Abba fans but I am not a great lover of it.  Its a decent Disco song but maybe its because I heard the Erasure cover version and it has put me off this track for life.  Listening now, although this album is ok, I can see why the band lost track a little with life at the top.

THE WAY OLD FRIENDS DO (Live) - A live version from Wembley Arena, London to finish the album.  It is very emotional and sounds great live.  As I said if this was the last song on the last album before they split it would be a fitting end.


 "THE VISITORS"

1981


THE VISITORS - The eighth and final album before the band split opens with the title track.  Sung by Frida, its actually a great Synth Pop Rock track, reminding me of Ultravox and the like.  I did say that "Super Trouper" was the band's fitting last album but this is a track I really like.  Sometimes had the subtitle in brackets, "Crackin' Up".

HEAD OVER HEELS - Only reaching number 25 in the UK chart, thus proving that the band's awesome song catalogue was declining with fans as well as themselves.  The song is actually a cool Tango-styled Synth Pop Rock track.  

 

WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE - Almost has a "The Loco-motion" beat when it starts, its a decent enough track but fails to grab the listener.  That upbeat promise is distinguished quickly into blandness.  Frida takes the lead but cannot lift this to anything more than an average Europop track.

SOLDIERS - Agnetha is back on lead vocal duties on this anti-military track.  Its a nice Pop track with a moody backdrop but trying to be positive sounding.  Some great eerie guitars on this.

I LET THE MUSIC SPEAK - A big orchestral sounding musical number sung on lead vocals by Frida.  Apparently the 5th longest Abba track coming in at 5 minutes 20 seconds.  For me, its too long and drawn out and with most of this album, seems like the Abba hit factory had lost its spark.

ONE OF US - Sung by Agnetha, the first single by the band when both couples had divorced and it proved to be their last major hit.  Released as the first single from the album, it was a wise move, probably the strongest track in my opinion after "Head Over Heels".  It reached number 3 in the UK chart but it was also their last number 1 on the Eurochart.  

 

TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE - A quirky mid tempo track, unlike the usual rockier numbers that Bjorn usually takes lead on.  It sounds lazy and bored and maybe that's how the band were feeling, despite a couple of good tracks on this album.

SLIPPING THROUGH MY FINGERS - Sadly, another track that fails to lift off the ground.  A mediocre Pop ballad beautifully by Agnetha as usual but its not a great song.

LIKE AN ANGEL PASSING THROUGH MY ROOM - A really emotional and sad vocal by Frida over a sparse Acoustic Synth Pop styled track.  Its minimal backing allows Frida's vocal to shine on the very last track on Abba albums until 2021's comeback "Voyage".  If "Super Trouper" included "The Visitors", "Head Over Heels" and "One Of Us" and that was it, I would have been happier.


 "VOYAGE"

2021


I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU - The lead track from the band's first album in 40 years has Anni-Frid  Frida) Lyngstad taking lead vocals.  It is unmistakeably Abba but takes time to grow on you.  It seems to me more like a musical number but its a nice opener.  This reached number 14 in the UK chart.


WHEN YOU DANCED WITH ME - This is more like the Abba we know, a bright and breezy almost Folk Europop track with a catchy melody.  The girls Agnetha and Frida in perfect unison.

LITTLE THINGS - A lilting lullaby style song that is a sweet track but not really grabbing you.  This only reached number 61 in the UK singles chart when released.

DON'T SHUT ME DOWN - Released as a dual single with the album opener but this reached number 9 in the UK chart.  Sung beautifully by Agnetha this is a return to Abba gold.  A catchy chorus and a more upbeat Pop style.


JUST A NOTION - Reaching only number 59 in the UK singles chart this is a new favourite of mine.  It is bright and breezy Europop with an infectious melody.  Great track that was apparently written for "Voulez-Vous" as a demo!

I CAN BE THAT WOMAN - Agnetha takes the vocal reins again on this song.  A minimal soft, emotional ballad that is delivered with all what we expect from this iconic band.

KEEP AN EYE ON DAN - A more 80s sounding Pop with Electronica and Synth Pop leanings.  Solid track.

BUMBLEBEE - One of those almost nonsensical tracks that Abba occasionally throw on albums.  This time sung by Frida.  It is clearly a filler for an album. Not much going on of note.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT - Finally on this album Frida gets a great track to sing vocals on.  This is brilliant 80s Pop Electronica.  Catchy and with that little glitter that is the Abba brand.  Best track on the album!

ODE TO FREEDOM - A kind of sombre end to the album, the girls sing vocals that are almost so quiet they are hardly heard and the music is of a closing musical end.  On the whole a decent album but could be better.


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