Voulez-Vous by ABBA

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Voulez-Vous by ABBA
Voulez-Vous by ABBA

Album Released: 1979

Voulez-Vous ::: Artwork

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1.As Good As New3:25
3.I Have A Dream4:43
4.Angel Eyes4:22
5.The King Has Lost His Crown3:34
6.Does Your Mother Know3:15
7.If It Wasn't For The Night5:11
9.Lovers (Live A Little Longer)3:30
10.Kisses Of Fire3:17


A difficult record to make, by all accounts, recorded round the time Agnetha and Bjorn were going through their marital problems, and during a renaissance in disco music, with the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever and The Bee Gees proving to be all the rage.

So with Voulez-Vous Abba try too hard in certain places, the title track in particular straining in terms of its glossy disco production to replicate the sheer popular mainstream funkiness that The Bee Gees were effortlessly producing.

Elsewhere, there's a return to Bjorn and Benny's roots with a few songs taking in Swedish folk, and there's also a complement of Euro-ballads - you know, it's an Abba album - by 1979 people knew what to expect!

Yet, the opening "As Good As New" starts with a burst of European Classical strings before morphing into a disco tune, then the chorus arrives, whereupon the song turns into very enjoyable Abba pop of the finest order. Then at the other end of the scale, "Summer Night City" matches the Voulez Vous title track in trying a little too hard to be a disco monster. It's worse in the case of "Summer Night City" though, the track is full of disco cliches - an uneasy mix of disco and regular Abba Euro/pop.

In the middle of the album, "Does Your Mother Know" proves to be a little corker of a pop song, with drums, guitar and disco all mixing together beautifully. Despite it having Bjorn on lead vocals, the song works, though no doubt limiting the song's hit potential. "Angel Eyes" is another song that could've been a huge hit, and to my mind is better than the album's title track.

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

It wasn't until 1979 that ABBA started to write true disco music, a major step down for the group and a vast disappointment in nearly every respect, especially when compared to 1977's immense classic The Album.

Not only are the melodies much less endurable on Voulez-Vous, but the production is worse, and so much of it is faceless. Usually, the band's history was blamed for this reversal in quality ... previously, ABBA consisted of two couples making music together, but by this time both couples had divorced.

It's a shame about the divorces, but the story of Voulez-Vous wasn't all bad news. The songwriting might have taken a turn for the worse, but that doesn't mean they'd forgotten how to do it. I mean, considering the band's entire discography, this is certainly more enjoyable and consistent than their eponymous 1975 album!

The disco numbers are fine, although they constitute some of the weaker moments on the album. It begins with "As Good As New", a melodic dance song with some slight but decent Classical ideas inserted into the mix. The closing track "Kisses of Fire" is also disco, making for a pleasant listen, but it's hard not to be reminded that it's not as insanely enjoyable as basically anything from their previous two albums.

Easily the best of the disco stuff is the title track. I'd never claim it to be amongst ABBA's finest work, but it does exactly what a dance song is supposed to - make me want to dance! Luckily, ABBA didn't go completely disco, and it's not surprising that the album's major gems were just like normal ABBA songs.

The folk-tinged mid-tempo poptune "Chiquitita" is probably the highlight of the whole album, with its heart-melting melody - the breezy atmosphere is done so well that it's remarkably difficult to fend off the urge to sing along with it! Interestingly, there's also a somewhat overlooked gem here called "Angel Eyes", a great Euro-pop song with a perfect melody.

So this might be a step down for ABBA, but it's not nearly as bad as its reputation. I'll take this over anything I've heard by Madonna, that's for sure.

[Footnote: Don Ignacio's Blog supplements this Review with a bonus track-by-track commentary]

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

After a little break, ABBA returned with a disco album! I dunno to what extent someone could get down and actually boogie to this record (they're not Tavares, you know), but even so, more than one of these songs has that insistent thump on 2 and 4. Plus those strings. And horns.

Donna Summer never grunted her way through something as dark and European as "Voulez-Vous" though, that's some dense dance music there. It was also the major hit from the album, and nothing else hits quite that hard.

In contrast, "Does Your Mother Know" is an awfully cute 50's-ish song about paedophilic seduction. Isn't it funny that when Bjorn sings about some little underage hottie getting turned on by him, he responds by saying it's cool if they dance, but that's it?

I guess Voulez Vous is okay - once again it's a light and happy album for the most part, after the out-of-character The Album - although some of Abba's hook skills seem to be getting a tad dull. I don't care for the pompous "I Have A Dream", and the pseudo-Latin "Chiquitita" isn't as good as "Fernando".

Whilst this album's sound is as usual super-professional, with faultless production and performances, it seems to have fewer of the ideas that made Arrival and The Album so interesting.

But the disco is some of the better stuff from the genre (outside of The Rolling Stones mind). Take "If It Wasn't for the Night" for example - a decent ABBA pop tune with just slap bass and that insistent drumming pattern, and that's all.

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

For a group perceived as a lovable but lightweight pop outfit, it's surprising how much ABBA developed. In a career that took them from power-pop to mini-rock operas to modish synth/pop, the Swedish four-piece at no point rested on their laurels.

Voulez-Vous is a case in point. First released in the UK in April 1979, it was an effort that saw Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid put their dancing shoes on to join in with the dominant disco craze ... "As Good As New" and the title-track see pulsating basslines married to sweeping strings and/or mellifluous keyboard parts. And although the quietly vengeful "The King Has Lost His Crown" slackens the pace a little, it retains the slick funkiness.

It’s a concoction that, though flawless, can be exhausting. But ABBA had an advantage over supposed genuine disco merchants, in the shape of their pop-craft. With "Chiquitita" - a beautiful, vulnerable, Latin-inflected ballad - and the chanted utopianism of "I Have a Dream", they're able to provide a pocket of air on a disco floor that would otherwise get sweaty and stultifying.

The only real clinkers are "Lovers (Live a Little Longer)", a would-be saucy anthem which is merely shrill, and "Does Your Mother Know", a slab of generic rock that would be risible even without memories of Björn performing it onstage in a clinging silver jumpsuit.

by Reviewer: BBC Music

I can never quite make up my mind about this album.

Released at a time when ABBA were just massive (particularly here in Australia), and - despite fractures appearing in the two marriages - Voulez-Vous was their flirtation with disco, which nearly everyone from Elton John to Kiss had indulged in by the end of the 70's.

The album's not all disco of course, but the opening two songs - particularly "Voulez-vous" - obviously are, and set the record right on course (even if the strings that start off "As Good As New" are a bit misleading), while the following ballad "I Have A Dream" is lovely.

Elsewhere, I love "Does Your Mother Know", and - though few other people seem to agree - that pounding rhythm gets me every time, and the album's concluding "Kisses of Fire" ups the dance floor effectively once again.

But the hugely popular "Fernando"-like "Chiquitita" doesn't do an awful lot for me, and as "The King Has Lost His Crown" sounds like a leftover from The Album, that does even less. Indeed, this release is not the band at its most creative.

And yet I suppose Voulez-Vous works as a whole album rather than as individual songs. Yes, while they were naturals at singles, ABBA were also an album band, and this release is another good demonstration of that.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor