Waterloo by ABBA

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Waterloo by ABBA
Waterloo by ABBA

Album Released: 1974

Waterloo ::: Artwork

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2.Sitting In The Palmtree3:38
3.King Kong Song3:14
4.Hasta Manana3:10
5.My Mama Said3:14
6.Dance (While The Music Still Goes On)3:12
7.Honey, Honey2:56
8.Watch Out3:47
9.What About Livingstone2:55
10.Gonna Sing You My Lovesong3:38
12.Waterloo (English Version)2:45


Abba, the most famous band ever to come out of Sweden. Abba, the most famous band to break out of the Eurovision Song Contest, "Ring Ring" having reached No.3 as Sweden's entry in 1973.

In 1974 they went one better, when "Waterloo" became the first Swedish song to win the competition. A massive number of European hit singles followed, but 1974 was still early days for Abba as an album-making concern.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) and Agnetha Fältskog were to sing the bulk of the group's leads, a duel lead-harmony effect resulting in radiant pop! At this early stage however, the guys Bjorn and Benny, those song-writing guys, get a good share of the vocals themselves.

As far as the album is concerned musically, keyboard-led seventies pop is the order of the day, yet Abba do visit other styles as well. A couple of tunes seem rather folky, a couple of tunes border on Rock music. Perhaps most remarkably of all, second track "Sitting in the Palmtree" dips its toes into reggae waters. The girls are relegated to mere backing vocals for this very cheesy, albeit quite charming and inoffensive slice of Euro-pop.

In fact, the majority of the album is rather slight, slightly cheesy Euro-pop, and the bulk of the material struggles to match the quality of the two singles contained in the collection, "Waterloo" and "Honey Honey". Equally however, none of the material here is actually offensive to listen to, no matter how slight it may appear on the surface.

The "Waterloo" single (and Eurovision winner) is now regarded as classic timeless pop - those piano rolls! Those vocals! There is a certain radiance about the entire performance. And as far as the melodies overall are concerned, this is such inventive pop music that it's no wonder Abba dominated the singles charts so fully for a while back in the seventies. "Honey Honey" works with the female vocals primarily, yet also sees fit to include a bridge section featuring one of the guys on vocals, amidst swirling very synthetic string sounds. Still, it's a nice little catchy pop song.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

Well, this wasn't exactly a quantum leap of development for the group, the melodies are sometimes even worse than the ones on the debut album, and that's pretty bad.

Eighty percent of the time, I wonder how this could even be the same ABBA that created so many mighty pop melodies during the 1970's. Is it possible that these guys on the early albums aren't really ABBA, but impostors from another galaxy? ... it's been well-documented that extra-terrestrials like to mess with popstars, so this is a distinct possibility. But on second thought, no it isn't ...

This album contains two glorious ABBA pop melodies. The first is obviously the album's namesake, a driven and infectious tune ripe for audience participation. Agnetha and Anni-Frid turn in such rollicking vocal performances that I freely admit to having to fend off the urge to holler that one at the top of my lungs! Why do I even fend off the urge? Well, if I'm listening to it driving, there's absolutely nothing stopping me, except maybe the police.

"Waterloo" was ABBA's first international hit single, and it remains one of their most beloved songs to this day. The completely irrelevant lyrics about the Battle of Waterloo (and not 'wet toilet' like I previously thought) just adds to the fun.

The second great ABBA song is called "Honey Honey", finally proving that they did have an ear not just for melody, but also harmonic chord progressions - an extremely important aspect of their hit singles. It could be considered a bit of a throwaway, but as it rings in my ears just like a classic then by golly, it must be a classic! These two songs completely murder "Ring Ring", and they didn't even bother asking for ransom.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

ABBA's second album (the first under the ABBA name) has but one reason to exist, that being the title track - the song that won the 1974 Eurovision Contest, and consequently brought the group international fame. It's a piece of glam-pop excellence, with energetic staccato pianos, playful saxes, and the girls' terrific harmonies. The only complaint I have is the way the title is sung sounds a bit too much like the way Diana Ross and the Supremes sung Baby love, my baby love ten years earlier. Still, that's only a small problem, compared to the rest of the album.

Overall, Waterloo is an improvement over Ring Ring, with decent ballads like "Hasta Mañana", "Gonna Sing You My Lovesong", and "Suzy-Hang-Around", and pop numbers, like the lush "Honey Honey", with its pleasant orchestral swells, or "Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)", where there are early signs of "Dancing Queen" (though far more repetitive and monotonous), to the energetic but cheesy piano-based "What About Livingstone?" (taking the album's title a bit too seriously, are we?).

On the other hand, the crap is significantly crappier, with four songs that are simply the worst these guys and gals ever released. "Sitting in the Palmtree" is a crude attempt at doing something 'tropical', with its annoying percussion and a frail vocal from Björn. On "My Mama Said", they obnoxiously try to take over the job of their fans' parents through ridiculous moralizing lyrics to the tune of half-assed proto-disco. Technically, this could be called an advance in some way, but give me the Trammps soul-influenced grooves over this sterile crap any day.

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by Reviewer: Mr X Music Reviews (blogging at When the Music's Over)

For those who don't know what Eurovision is, it's a hilarious annual song contest, where each nation sends a representative to sing what is supposedly the 'song of the year' from their country. The funny part is that most of the entries are absolutely horrid pop piffle, or cliche-ridden bullshit that no one has ever actually heard before.

The voting is always very politically charged, and is the highlight of the whole evening. But every once in a long while there's actually a talented artist found and popularized by the whole thing, and in 1974 it was ABBA, with the title-song from their second album.

"Waterloo" is a piano-propelled slightly 50's-rocking slick-fest of the highest order - it's amazing how those girls voices combine, and there's just two of 'em! The song makes me do the twist - it's hooky, and pushes all my 'dance' buttons really hard. 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 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 knew that too, because their 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 - and they have plenty:

Reggae? "Sitting In The Palmtree". Glam Rock? "King Kong" (which is just awful in its attempts to be Yellow Brick Road-era Elton John, with screaming). And "Watch Out" sounds like Kiss mixed with Lenny Kravitz (maybe ABBA should avoid doing Hard Rock). Country? "Hasta Manana", which works wonders, and they don't try to twang up the vocals too much either, so it's just enough of a put-on Nashville accent to be cute. I like it! Funk/proto-disco? "My Mama Said", which is white enough to be catchy, and technical enough to be interesting.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])

ABBA's second album - the first recorded under that name - is decent, although in terms of consistency I don't think it's up to the standard of Ring Ring, no matter what anyone says.

Whilst there are no bad songs here, and such tracks as the Eurovision breakthrough "Waterloo", "Honey, Honey", "Gonna Sing You My Lovesong" and "Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)" are fine, only a few really jump out at me.

The one that jumps out the most is the goofy rollicking "King Kong Song", which I find irresistible, while also of particular note are "What About Livingstone", the rocking "Watch Out", "My Mama Said" (which almost sounds like it has a touch of disco before disco had actually arrived), and the charming jangle of "Suzy-Hang-Around".

An issue I have with ABBA is a lot of my favourite songs of theirs are not their hits, and that's the case here. The album might be called Waterloo, but I tend to think of other titles before that particular track when recalling the album.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor