Abba by ABBA

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Abba by ABBA
Abba by ABBA

Album Released: 1975

Abba ::: Artwork

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1.Mama Mia3:32
2.Hey, Hey Helen3:16
3.Tropical Loveland3:05
5.Man In The Middle3:00
7.I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do3:15
8.Rock Me3:03
9.Intermezzo No.13:48
10.I've Been Waiting For You3:39
11.So Long3:06


The ABBA legend has been built upon their singles, noticeable more here than on their debut. How a single band can on the one hand produce utter pop genius such as "Mamma Mia", then on the other hand produce utter disposable rubbish, is beyond me. It indicates a simple lack of effort I believe.

You see, there is this theory that genius is something that happens to hard working, clever people. It never occurs to anybody that sometimes some average kind of guy or girl can just hit upon a smart idea. Or be lucky. Perhaps Einstein, clever as he was, also had an element of luck with the theories he hit upon? Who knows?? What I do know is that the old adage 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration, is utter bollocks. If that was the case, then Bruce Springsteen would be acclaimed as the greatest musical force known to mankind, of any genre of music, for all time.

Anyhow, ABBA's self-titled second album does display signs of progress from Waterloo. "I Do, I Do, I Do" sappy as it may be, is a surefire low-cost resort in Spain whilst battered pop winner "Mamma Mia" is actually the only sure-fire ABBA sign of genius here, a pop song so perfectly arranged and executed, that it's a wonder it even exists in the first place. Still, it does exist, and it truly is a trascendent moment in musical history.

For the most part on this album, ABBA produce a blend of diverse styles, all topped off with those creamy vocal harmonies. "Hey Hey Helen" nods at glam, "Man In The Middle" nods at god only knows what, a kind of soul-funk, married to extremely weak (male Abba) vocals. Ah, I said "Mamma Mia" was the only genius moment here? Add "SOS" to that list, another perfectly formed pop gem.

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

Can you taste it? There is something great happening! Not only is this band finally lifting itself out of the murky depths of mediocrity, they're beginning to frequently turn in durable pop classics.

That sudden shift from being below-average to average would have surprised anyone paying attention to ABBA back then. And after recently going through those previous albums before reviewing this, it still manages to come off as something of a shock to me - this is a genuinely good album!

What else do I need to say other than this album contains "Mamma Mia!". I would say that's just about the greatest popsong ever, except I know full well that the group would manage to top it or match it plenty of times later on. Another major pop hit is "S.O.S.", as infectious as anything, and more proof that this was one of the greatest singles bands in history. ABBA manages to even surprise by delivering a convincing bit of Classical music in "Intermezzo No.1". Well it's not really Classical music, because it has a backing beat, but it's great fun, and it gives insight as to why they seemed to have such a gift for harmony.

There goes more of that unbridled praise, I'm always willing to fork it over when it's merited. Nevertheless, as you might have gathered, this album is far from perfect. Half of me wants to forgive them entirely for the mediocre spots, because they were a singles band first and foremost - their golden moments tend to greatly outweigh the bad ones. But alas, I have to take them into account!

Repeating the same mistake they did on Waterloo, they again try combining Euro-pop with Reggae in "Tropical Loveland" - and again - it doesn't work. They're also responsible for one of the most embarrassing Funk songs of all time with "Man in the Middle" ... its melody might be OK, but why do they have to be such wusses? And their wussiness doesn't end there, I have to start a new paragraph to adequately delve into that topic:

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

While they wouldn't refer to an album of theirs as an 'arrival' until the following year, it's with their third LP that we hear the ABBA we know and love (or love to hate).

The titles of their first two LPs are quite telling in retrospect, their sole purpose being the title tracks, the rest being a sea of filler with which to surround the hit single. They had the occasional moment of interest for sure, but more often than not they were repetitive, derivative, naïve and annoying. On Abba though, even what might constitute filler is quite pleasant.

Like its predecessors, ABBA's eponymous album includes a couple or so rockers. Bizarrely, all three are pleasant and melodic, and nowhere near as pretentious in their attempts at rocking as their antecedents ...

On "Hey Hey Helen" and "Rock Me", the distorted guitars are not different on purpose from a synth chord, and fit the steady tempos of these classy pop/rockers just fine. And you know what? "Rock Me" is a damn good attempt at glam rock - whilst it may seem like a parody, it ignores all the bad aspects of glam (of the tuneless/toothless, clownish posturing variety), and has a terrific melody to boot (and the band talking of the thrills of all that is carnal is still more plausible than the pseudo-fright of "Watch Out"). As an added bonus, Björn's Alice Cooper-imitating snarl in the verses is actually quite fun to hear.

The closing "So Long" isn't quite as good, since it's mostly a sequel to "Waterloo", but that's no denigration - I prefer it over any of the non-title-track 'highlights' of the previous two LPs.

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

Here are the hooks - I was wondering where they'd been hiding.

It seems Bennie had been holding out on us, letting Bjorn do all the songs on the first two albums so no one could claim Bennie was dictating the future 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 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 everything here - even with drums, there's a hook in there somewhere.

I don't like "Tropical Loveland" though - reggae is something these guys could leave their grubby paws off, at least until they don't make it sound like one of Barry Mannilow's lesser excursions. It's better than "Sitting In the Palmtree" from the previous album, but still not good. And the early-70's Fleetwood Mac connection gets no closer than on "Man In the Middle", which I swear was ripped off Bare Trees, a Mac album I didn't like, and I like Abba's impersonation even less.

Not all their attempts at stretching out are quite so dire though - the cheeseball pop/prog instrumental exercise "Intermezzo No.1" goes down with a grin for example. These guys are much more in their element doing synthesizer-enhanced pop rockers like "S.O.S.", which is 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.

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

ABBA's third album found them really hitting their stride, although - not for the only time with their releases - I'm just a bit underawed by songs like "Mamma Mia" and "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do", because I've heard them so often.

That's curious, as in the 70's I was yet to get into pop/rock. However, it only shows how massive the band were in Australia - they were simply impossible to ignore at the height of their fame. They're certainly good songs though, particularly "I Do", as is another hit, "SOS".

I also have a great time with most of the other tracks, from the funky "Hey, Hey Helen" and the reggae-flavoured "Tropical Loveland", a song which (maybe embarrassingly) I first heard and fell in love with in the 1980's when performed during an episode of Young Talent Time.

Then there's the sunny "Bang-a-Boomerang", and the outstanding classical-influenced instrumental "Intermezzo No 1". "So Long" is a feisty closer too, while "Rock Me" shows that yes, the band could rock pretty well.

Overall, Abba is a terrific slab of Europop. Lyrically light for sure, and with no great depth, but it's melodious, catchy, bubbly, and irresistible, which pretty much sums up much of ABBA's career.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor

In April 1975, ABBA were worried that the heady days were over. "Waterloo", their song about one girl's surrender in the battle of love, had won the Eurovision Contest 12 long months earlier. Reviews of the group had been positive – even Rolling Stone had said they were putting 'new life into cartoon pop' - but recent UK singles had flopped, and tours were not selling out.

Time then, for the difficult third album, featuring reggae, prog, rock, and funk, and somewhere in the middle, a giddy "SOS".

Here I go again the first track begins. How could we resist them? At first, it's odd to think that this was the album that broke Sweden's biggest band - it dashes from genre to genre, with a few massive hits in the middle - "Mamma Mia" is now so familiar it's like a nursery rhyme - that chirpy marimba and that chorus are now a vital part of pop's DNA, and the hooks keep coming and coming.

In "Mamma Mia" we find one of ABBA's trademark sad, layered stories, bubbly and joyous to the ear, but full of darker details about slammed doors, and an angry and sad woman that's not that strong. Lyrical depth and shiny surfaces: here are ABBA, early on, refining their magical formula.

That gets repeated elsewhere, with mixed results. "Hey, Hey Helen" begins with crunchy guitars, before shocking with the tale of a woman that's left her husband and children. "Bang-A-Boomerang" and "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" stick to bouncier pop, the former brimming with advice about compromise within marriage, the latter using the wedding declaration to mask lyrics teeming with insecurity.

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by Reviewer: BBC Music (blogging at BBC Music)