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.
by Reviewer: BBC Music
(blogging at BBC Music