Super Trouper by ABBA

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Super Trouper by ABBA
Super Trouper by ABBA

Album Released: 1980

Super Trouper ::: Artwork

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1.Super Trouper4:13
2.The Winner Takes It All4:55
3.On And On And On3:41
4.Andante, Andante4:38
5.Me And I3:56
6.Happy New Year4:37
7.Our Last Summer4:58
8.The Piper4:40
9.Lay All Your Love On Me4:33
10.The Way Old Friends Do2:53


Post divorce, Abba enter the 80's in fine synth/pop 80's fashion - ABBA right up with the pop trends and creating another commercial blockbuster as a result.

The usual clutch of singles are here, alongside the usual 'other' songs. Still, some of these other songs reveal a new emotional maturity to ABBA, not entirely surprising considering the personal problems the band were going through at the time. And besides, album tracks such as "Me And I" and "Our Last Summer" especially are glorious little songs. "Our Last Summer" is very evocative and includes nods to The Beach Boys, and nods to strange Swedish things in the production. The chorus is the key to the song, very swoonsome indeed.

"Me And I" is quality pop of the kind other bands would've released as a single, but ABBA of course, being ABBA, had stronger songs than these already good songs to release. The strongest of them all of course being "The Winner Takes It All", a song it's very hard for even the staunchest ABBA hater to dislike, I'd have thought. It just gets to you, without even knowing of the emotional turmoil behind the song's origins, the entire performance is just superb. The layering of the backing vocals, the addition of the piano, the entire arrangement is exactly right and seemingly designed to lend the song even greater emotional resonance. The, right on the other end of the scale in emotional terms is the simple good fun of the title track, even that has been constructed with love and care.

Elsewhere ... "On and On and On" sounds like ABBA had been listening to The Buggles; "Happy New Year" is a let-down, a song that descends into wishy-washy Eurovision blandness; "Andante, Andante" is simply irritating. And it's a shame that this otherwise very strong album is let down by a number of songs that just don't belong on the same album as the other four or five songs here.

Ah well, Super Trouper is still strong overall, the good songs bringing the whole to a level that can certainly be called 'good'.

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

It's obvious that ABBA had already peaked by this point, but even so they don't come across like they'd totally given up.

They're even picking up quite a bit of slack in the production and songwriting departments, areas that had been lacking in Voulez-Vous. The result is yet another fantastic album of durable hits, and so ABBA seal their position as one of the greatest pop bands to ever grace our decrepit Earth.

They're still writing melodies like gods at any rate. "Super Trouper" takes one of the cakes, with its instantly memorable and wonderful melody - I've been an ardent admirer of that song for quite some time. But "The Winner Takes it All" takes another cake, possibly the most gorgeous ballad of ABBA's career (and that's saying something) featuring utterly beautiful vocal performances, and even exhibiting some emotional depth that had largely escaped them until this point. It was such a surprising move considering they're usually quite shallow (but fun).

"Lay All Your Love On Me" was a huge dance hit and still considered a favorite at dance parties. It's so infectious, even though it has a surprisingly dark atmosphere. Then there's "Our Last Summer", a convincingly sentimental ballad with another fantastic melody. Above everything else though, "The Piper" proves to be the most interesting track - a pop/folky number with a hint of prog/rock - a strange combo, but it turned out great.

The album isn't 100 percent perfect - "Andante Andante" and "Me and I" are both cheaper than the previously-mentioned tracks, if mildly entertaining. The only real stink bomb the band unleashes is the curiously out-of-place closer "The Way Old Friends Do", a live cut of a song that wasn't too great to begin with - the instrumentation is murky and sounds horribly out-of-place alongside the other tracks, which glisten. But putting those aside, Super Trouper is a gem. Too few pop albums of the era are this good.

[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)

I was sayin' how Abba already sounded a bit down in the mouth on The Album, what with all those references to strained relationships and career exhaustion. Well those party pooper themes are back on Super Trouper, the band's big 'Return from Disco' album, that had plenty of hits.

The title track for example - hook laden it may be - is about preferring to be with your loved one rather than on stage, but then the Super Trouper lights are gonna find me, shining like the sun and she puts on a smile to get through the show because she knows he is in the audience. Right.

There's a super-snappy synth bassline in that track too, showing that the boys in the background aren't content to let new technology rape their cats while they stand idly by wondering about the football scores. And they seem to be content to put synth on almost all the songs, like "The Winner Takes It All", a heartbreak ballad that's my favorite track on the whole darn album, resemblance to early-80's Adult Contemporary idiots like Bonnie Tyler be damned - that descending melody line is dramatic man! And the brunette Agnetha sure can sing!

Actually, a lot of the album is quite similar to those first two songs, kinda darker again, but melodic and safe (no electric guitar like back in the mid-70's). It's almost frighteningly consistent too ... I imagine the songwriting axis was well greased and turning at full force at this point, so most of these songs were probably tossed off without even breaking a sweat.

There's still a lot of disco on this album, but it's 1980 synthy-disco stuff like "Lay All Your Love On Me", which is as cool as the Voulez Vous disco was. These Swedes sure were talented, lemme tell ya.

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

This is my favourite ABBA album.

Maybe it helps that I'm not as familiar with these songs as I am with some of the group's earlier works, so there isn't a problem with over-exposure. None of these tracks - with the possible exception of the rather whiny "The Winner Takes It All" - come anywhere near the likes of "Mamma Mia" and "Money, Money, Money" in regards to 'how many times have I heard that?", such that I really wouldn't care if I never heard it again.

But it also might have something to do with the fact that Ulvaeus and Andersson were just flowing with melodies and song structure inventiveness by this stage in the group's career.

Of course, it's well known that the two marriages were in freefall at this point, and that's reflected in the personal lyrics throughout the album (lyrics that could put some of their cliched contemporaries to shame), and that combination results in a classic record.

The opening title song sets the scene perfectly, and that's followed by a mixture of ballads ("Winner", "Adante, Adante"), uptempo pop/rock ("On and On and On", "Lay All Your Love On Me"), joyous pomp ("Happy New Year"), smooth pop ("Me and I"), and even folk ("The Piper").

I love the more rousing songs best, like "Super Trouper", the knockout "On and On and On", "Me and I", and - maybe most of all - "The Piper". I seem to remember reading somewhere that ABBA themselves have long hated that one, but I can't think why - it's enchanting.

Then it all finishes with a live track, the moving "The Way Old Friends Do", which demonstrates that ABBA knew how to produce pomp that had dignity and heart.

Anyone who listens to the band's catalogue chronologically (or been alongside them from their beginning in the 70's) should've by this stage concluded that ABBA were way more than an empty teenybopper act. If not, then surely Super Trouper knocks that myth on the head.

It is wonderful.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor