I can, but only as a result of the songwriter fessing up. When Debbie sings 'Dreaming, dreaming is free', it is copying 'Dancing Queen, young and sweet only'. It's clearer if you imagine it as 'Dance Queen, young sweet only'.
One of the most important hook mechanisms in DQ is that 'young and sweet' repeats the same melody line as the preceding 'Dancing Queen'. This is pop magic only because of the accompanying chord change. The 'Danc-' is a major seventh but, here comes the science, the 'young' makes a briefly unsettling tritone with the changed chord's root note. This is unusual enough in popular music to stamp the passage with Benny's mark of genius, so that its influence on Dreaming can be detected like a dusted fingerprint.
It's interesting to hear first-hand reports of the event yesterday. It sounds like people had a great time. I wish I could have got a ticket!
But the reports also confirm, I think, my impression from reading the book. There simply isn't much in the vaults that is really new. Everything is early or different versions of songs we already know.
The problem (if there is one) is that Benny and Bjorn were never very prolific songwriters. I remember a quote from one of them saying that they only wrote about 12 songs a year. And if they came up with something good, it was released or it was reworked, often much later. There will never be an ABBA equivalent of Bruce Springsteen's Tracks or Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series. Those two writers often wrote many more songs for an album than were used (for example, Springsteen wrote at least 50 songs each for his albums The River and Born In The USA).
The quality of the songs that Benny and Bjorn wrote is amazing, and they maintained very high standards. But I don't think it came easily to them. It was hard graft!
It's definitely not too technical for the average reader.
It's a bit difficult for me to say how much new material there is, as I never had the previous edition and I certainly haven't read all the other ABBA books out there. A lot of the information was new to me though. I think anyone hoping that there are loads of unreleased songs (as opposed to alternate versions of released material) might be disappointed.
Is it worth the money? It's hard to say but I am pleased with my purchase. I think most hardcore ABBA fans would enjoy it.
its too bad Abba doesnt have something like this. Even the Beatles "Complete recording sessions" book by Lewisohn is more useful to me, than the Magnus book...
However, again, Abba fans dont seem like they are interested in the technical details, whereas there's a huge community of musicians that view the Beatles as a template for such a thing.
I didnt read either of the other books, altho I've read several Beatles books. To me, they have the most similar story to Abba.. especially the decline and ends of both bands.
That book certainly does sound interesting but unfortunately it costs $620! It would be great if there was an equivalent book about ABBA but I doubt there ever will be. The Beatles did so many radical things whereas I'm not sure if ABBA broke much new ground, so there will never be the same degree of interest.
I never had the first edition, but I did see it briefly somewhere. I think the second edition is probably a great improvement. But it would be a bit of a risk, given the high cost, to buy the new edition if you didn't like the first one.
I think the book is probably just about right for someone with my level of knowledge of music and its technicalities (that is, low). For someone like you, who is a musician and obviously much more knowledgeable about the subject, I can see that the book might not be what you want.
Have you read Ian MacDonald's Revolution In The Head (about the Beatles' music) or Nicholas Pegg's The Complete David Bowie? And, if so, what did you think? They have similarities to Magnus Palm's book, and are both among my favourites.
I can't add much to Colin's review, except to say I agree with everything he says.
Alan, you definitely are missing out. It's far from being "torture by text" (although I understand what you mean). It's easily the best book on ABBA that I have read. The day-by-day format and dissection of every song is fascinating, and the longer essays - though I haven't read them yet - look riveting. I would rate it almost as highly as Ian MacDonald's Revolution In The Head (about the Beatles) and Nicholas Pegg's The Complete David Bowie, which are both essential reads if you like those artists.
The only slight reservation I have about the book is that it is very expensive at around £90. (To compare, the other two books are around £20 each.) But I am glad that I have bought it, and I know that sometimes you have to pay for quality.
To any other members of this forum, I say buy it. You won't be disappointed!
Yes, I remember that too, although unlike you I have seen the series since its original broadcast. It, or rather they as there were two series, were released on video around 2001 (and since then on DVD). I watched all 12 episodes then in one mammoth session!
I think the series was very good indeed, particularly the music, although it is now a bit of a period piece. I wish I trusted my judgement more: I am not sure if it actually was good, or whether I remember it with the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia for my teenage years (I was 16/17 at the time). But who cares - I like it!
This post doesn't quite fit under the thread title, but I'm sure you'll forgive me.
I expect some fans of a certain age (mine) and nationality (mine) will remember a TV series from 1976 and 1977 called Rock Follies. I've recently been playing the two albums containing songs from the series, and thoroughly enjoying them. It's nostalgia for lost youth, I'm sure!
But to get to the point, the songs generally (not specifically) reminded me of ABBA songs. I think it's because they are very melodic, of the same period and production style, and have strong female lead vocals (mainly those of Julie Covington, the original singer of Don't Cry For Me Argentina).
Does anyone else have fond memories of this series and its music?
Just my opinion, obviously, but I wouldn't put I Am The City in the same category as Just Like That. Just Like That is a pretty weak song, particularly the verses, as Alan says. I'm not sure if I would consider it good enough to even be an album track, let alone a single. I Am The City, on the other hand, is a terrific song. It's my favourite of the 1982 stuff, and could easily have been a single. It's very catchy! Without any evidence whatsoever, I am sure that B&B must have been keeping it back for future release.
Your post prompted me to listen to the Blancmange version, which I hadn't heard for years. It really is very good, isn't it? I hate to agree with you but I think it might be that rare cover version of an ABBA song that improves on the original. Obviously I miss Agnetha but the vocals are excellent anyway, and the instrumentation/production is terrific. But I'm also one of those bad ABBA fans that doesn't think that The Day Before You Came is one of their masterpieces.
I has also forgotten that there were clips of the ABBA video in the Blancmange video! (I assume I was looking at the official video, and not a fan's mash-up.)
Not that I can think of but there are a few I like quite a lot. The Czars version of Angel Eyes (dodgy lyric change notwithstanding- what was he thinking of? He should have just sang 'young guy', not 'young boy') and Portishead's take on SOS.
Oh yes, those are two of the best. The Czars' Angeleyes is probably my favourite cover version. But I think the expression 'close but no cigar' is appropriate...
This thread was prompted by a couple of recent polls on the forum.
Has any cover version of an ABBA song (or, indeed, any Benny & Bjorn song) ever improved on the original? Obviously it's a matter of opinion, but when I thought about it I couldn't think of a single cover version that I prefer. There are a few nice covers but I suspect the absence of Agnetha and Frida is the main problem.
Yes, I love a nice poll, but I wondered the same thing about the other recent vote on which artist performed Honey Honey better. The result seemed to be a bit of a foregone conclusion. Still, it's only a bit of fun.
An interesting discussion might be whether there are ANY covers of ABBA songs (or, more generally, B&B songs) that actually improved on the original. I can't think of any offhand.
Colin, I have an off-topic question for you, but it's not worth starting a new thread, and it is related to chart compilation.
I noticed that the La La Land soundtrack is in the UK album chart. Indeed, it was recently number one, I think. I thought that multi-artist albums weren't allowed in the main album chart. Has that rule been changed? Or am I missing something?