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May 26, 2023 12:00 PM   Subscribe

The Day Before You Came was released in 1982. I Still Have Faith In You was released in 2022. That's a long time for a band to be on hiatus. So what went in in between? ABBA - The Missing 40 Years [1h5m] covers the lives and careers of Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Frida and give a fuller picture of the intervening decades for the biggest band in the world.
posted by hippybear (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Melismata at 12:45 PM on May 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

In 1984 I was waaaaaaay too cool to ever listen to ABBA, but boy did I think the Blancmange cover of "The Day Before You Came" was tops. [I am heartened to know that this version is an artefact of the ABBA hiatus, and not an actual stab at the absolute Kings and Queens of pop.]
posted by chavenet at 5:17 PM on May 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

Came here to post that Blancmange cover and chavenet beat me to it.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 5:27 PM on May 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

This documentary entirely elides Benny's work with Benny Anderssons Orkester and their ridiculously long Swedish chart topping hit Du Är Min Man, which Bjorn wrote the lyrics for and was in the top ten for 278 weeks.
posted by hippybear at 8:00 PM on May 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

hippybear: I noticed a similar omission in the recent HBO BeeGees documentary. The doc covered the loss of popularity of the band and blamed it all on the Disco Sucks movement (which was a big part of it to be sure) but completely omitted any mention of the disastrous (though now cult favorite) Sgt. Pepper's movie they starred in. I was a kid at the time, and even I remember the hype about the BeeGees being in a movie based on Beatles music. And I even remember the movie being ripped apart as garbage way back then. It was an important part of the end of that band's popularity, because the movie was a laughingstock at the time.

Yeah, this comment is a little off topic, and I haven't seen the ABBA one yet (plan to) but some of these documentaries (no matter how well produced) annoy me when important things are completely left out.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:22 AM on May 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

In 1984 I was waaaaaaay too cool to ever listen to ABBA ....

Strange, my 60+-year run before and since has included a vast variety of tastes, trends and lifestyles but I have yet to hear a single soul ever utter the name except perhaps as a derisive punchline. Have always been curious how that was possible given the band's chart topping arc and epic sales. By contrast, I knew dozens of people who were hardcore fans of Men At Work for at least a minute or two.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 3:26 PM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Have always been curious how that was possible given the band's chart topping arc and epic sales.

I'm left to ask.. have you ever actually listened to the band in question?
posted by hippybear at 4:25 PM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm left to ask.. have you ever actually listened to the band in question?

Was it possible to trod the Earth and not hear ABBA? That's kinda my point, no?
posted by thecincinnatikid at 6:57 AM on May 28, 2023

hardcore fans of Men At Work for at least a minute or two.

First concert I ever went to was Men At Work, with openers Mental as Anything.

At the Greek Theater in Berkeley, 1983.
posted by chavenet at 9:16 AM on May 28, 2023

My first concert was Mumblity Mumble, a not-honored act even when they were popular, who came to my home town and my dad took me to the show. The only other even vaguely rock concert event I went to with my father was to see Linda Ronstadt on the tour with the Jimmy Webb album and the Neville Brothers opening and playing for much of her set. That was a much better tour to see with my dad. I saw a lot of other concerts between A and B, but I don't discuss those much with him. He doesn't really agree with my musical choices.

If I had the kind of disposable income that allowed it, I'd go to London with seeing the ABBA hologram concert as my excuse and then squeeze in a couple of days of other London tourism while I was there for that.
posted by hippybear at 1:49 PM on May 28, 2023

Okay fine! It was Donny & Marie. That's what my first concert was. Enough with the nagging.
posted by hippybear at 1:50 PM on May 28, 2023

I was gifted the ABBA "Arrival" album for my 11th birthday by a boy I had a crush on. I still have that album. I used to shut myself in my room and sing every song.

I don't understand when people snort derisively at ABBA. After all, everyone seems to know "Dancing Queen", like everyone knows "Sweet Caroline" (da da daaaa).
posted by annieb at 5:06 PM on May 28, 2023

The thing about ABBA that people have discovered over the years is that their music is REALLY complex for pop songs. A myriad of key changes can happen in what seems to be a simple melody. And the actual production, the instrumentation, is really deep and complex and gives a bit of a "wall of sound" sound without being actually that.

And as far as engineering goes, they created a lot of things, like taking the second take of a vocal track (vocal tracks on most songs are sung twice by the singer, on top of each other, to offer a deeper sense of vocal depth, this is called "double tracking" if you've ever seen that phrase and wondered what it means) and speeding up the tape just slightly for the second take so there's a tiny bit of tonal frission with the tones not quite matching.

Dancing Queen alone requires a larger range to sing than most karaoke singers can manage, as many have discovered in public to their own chagrin.

I mean, we can get into the nitty gritty about ABBA and their musical compositions if you want. I've spent a lot of time looking at this and what Benny achieves... I don't know how much the ABBA band might have worked with him to create the songs, but I do know that for things like Chess, it was basically all him except for having an orchestrator for the symphonic stuff.

Just his work with Benny Anderssons Orkester alone is really amazing. He manages to blend Nordic folk traditions with big band jazz and pop and rock into something unlike anything I've really ever heard before.

The track Glasgow Boogie I think is a really interesting piece from BAO, as they are known for short, and also sounds very much like a track ABBA might have put onto one of their albums. They did more than a couple of instrumentals across their catalog.

And let us never forget Benny's love of the accordion, which is shared with Weird Al, another musical hero of the past decades.
posted by hippybear at 1:06 PM on May 30, 2023

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