I was a child in the 70s so I did not reallly know which Abba albums sold well and in which countries. It seems the 3rd album Abba in 1975 was a huge success in Australia and New Zealand but Arrival was the first major seller in the UK. Actually, I owned a copy of Abba for 20 years without listening to it . Why ? Because the album is never discussed. It seems only the Abba efforts that sold in the Uk are counted among Abba fans.
Then one summer I started playing it and was blown away. It is a much better pop album than Arrival. The album tracks are simply stronger than on Arrival. Rock me ( really good compared to the 1979 hit Does your mother know ) and Ive been waiting for you are great and almost as good are Hey hey Helen and Tropical loveland ( lovely jazzy vocals by Frida ) and of course I DO x 5, SOS and Mamma Mia.
I have to say a big thank you to Australia and New Zealand for making this album and the singles from it a huge success in your countries. You recognized great pop before the Brits.
Ooh, that’s controversial! I admit I view things from a UK perspective, but Arrival is probably my favourite pop album of all time, closely followed by The Album. For me, Arrival is consistently excellent the whole way through. ABBA, on the other hand, has some sublime songs but also quite a few weaker songs. IMHO, the great songs are SOS, Mamma Mia, Bang-A-Boomerang and I’ve Been Waiting For You. They’re the start of the quintessential ABBA sound. Tracks such as Rock Me, Intermezzo, Tropical Loveland, So Long and Man In The Middle aren’t great favourites of mine. But it was my first ABBA album, so I still have a soft spot for it.
I certainly play 'ABBA' quite frequently but play 'Arrival' much more rarely, and probably less than any other ABBA album except 'Waterloo'. I'm just not in an 'Arrival' mood that often.
HOWEVER...I'd also readily concede that 'Arrival' is the better album and may even be the 'definitive' ABBA album. Basically, with any artist, I find that the following three questions often yield different answers:
- What is their 'best' album'? - What is your favourite album of theirs? - Which album of theirs do you play the most?
For me, where ABBA is concerned, the answers would be:
- 'Arrival' or 'The Album' (looking at them all objectively) - 'The Visitors' (it would be my 'desert island' ABBA album) - 'ABBA' or 'The Visitors' (they simply get a run-out more often than the others)
Not sure but I don't think so. To break it down to song level, I (think I) know that, for instance, 'The Name of the Game' is a better song than 'Head Over Heels'. And most people prefer it (ABBA fans and non-fans alike). There's so much to admire in terms of composition, melodies, arrangement etc. Yet, personally, I much prefer 'Head Over Heels'. It grabs me in a way that 'The Name of the Game' doesn't. My personal ABBA top ten would include it, alongside 'So Long' and 'Lovelight' - but again there's no way that 'Lovelight' is a better song than, say, 'Dancing Queen', which wouldn't make my top ten. Yes, my view that 'Dancing Queen' is a better song than 'Lovelight' is still a subjective one, as everything ultimately is, but I KNOW (!) it's a correct one from an objective viewpoint! (If you see what I mean...)
Just to broaden it a bit, maybe the whole concept of 'guilty pleasures' in music is a reflection of the fact that we do, in fact, often recognise our own tendency to prefer 'inferior' songs to 'superior' ones.
(TBH I've given up a bit with the 'Waterloo' album. I find it a bit of a chore and somewhat embarrassing. On the other hand, I do find that 'Ring Ring' rewards repeated delves!)
I couldn't say one was better then the other as the "ABBA" album was at the start of their career with all the songs that made us love ABBA so much. ARRIVAL was at the peak of their career, both hold good memories for me. Sadly my turntable on my stereo isn't working anymore so I have to see if I can get a new one with a Radio and CD player.
I have to agree that everything is subjective to a mood, time and place. Just imagine being that fan again listening to these albums for the very first time, ( I envy those new fans 🙄 Everything now instead of waiting years, but hey that's another discussion) . Which would be better... Arrival is superior, of course it is in so many ways, but there is the odd "duff" track ( depending on your own perspective) like Arrival or Dum Dum Diddle, every album has them ( another discussion ) . ABBA, is like a teenager, coming out of infancy, some great tracks, but some let's say not so good, but all are part of the ABBA history, we learn to love them or just skip.
Personally I tend to stick to the same tracks if I'm having an ABBA day, and sometimes just sometimes I'll go retro and see what I haven't heard for ages, and am surprised..
So for me it's a " mood" thing a moment when even Watch Out( one of my least favourite) might grab me and I think emmm better than I thought( unlikely but you know what I mean ) .
Each to their own..
personally one studio album to a desert island.. tough but probably Voulez Vous.. even that has my own " duff tracks" I Have A Dream and Lovers, but could listen to them 😀
As much as I love The Abba album I love Arrival more. Dum dum diddle is s good tune , it’s just those lyrics. Love title track. It’s just so haunting. It kind of magics me away to the Scottish Highlands, castles and mist. Far from the bustle of city life. One of the most unlikeliest tracks to hear on holiday. But for 2 weeks in Ibiza in 1988 my hotel played it along with other instrumentals in the morning....probably to soothe soreheads from night before. Not so keen on Abba’s other instrumental track on Abba, Intermezzo No1. We never did get a No.2. Think Benny likes this one. His Emerson Lake and Palmer moment. Also not keen on Man in the Middle. But love the rest of the album. I feel as though they were still experimenting with the Abba album but with Arrival they had arrived. Struggle to pick my favourite Abba album though. Split between Super Trouper and Arrival.
Hi, With regards to favourite albums by ABBA,I will go for "Super Trouper" although I dislike the title track. My second favourite is "Voulez-Vous" and "Arrival" my third. ABBA managed to re-invent themselves with every album they recorded. Move over Madonna !
I'd agree with the OP that the ABBA album is a bit overlooked. It showcases ABBA's versatility (you could say it's a more varied album than Arrival, in terms of genre flavours) - sassy glam (Hey, Hey, Helen), sleaze funk (Man In The Middle), folk-calypso (Tropical Loveland), and a good dollop of prime power 'bubblegum' (Mamma-Mia, SOS, Bang-A-Boomerang) form the heart. It's a decent album for sure, certainly their best up to that point, a where-we-are-now consolidation and and indication of things to come. However, it's also top-loaded, and runs out of steam quite quickly on Side 2: schlager rears its head in the witless sing-along I Do..., Rock Me is a laboured rocker, I've Been Waiting For You cloyingly obsequious and Intermezzo a cold, abrasive exercise in chopsmanship from Benny and the backing band. So Long (which rocks a darned sight more than Rock Me) does pick things up at the end.
With Arrival, ABBA realise their full potential as consummate pop creators from start to finish for the first time (there's a clue in its title). It's a much more cohesive album; its brilliant sequencing accommodates and absorbs what lulls there are, Bjorn's lyrics have, by and large, a new lucidity and weight, and the performances of both the core band and the backing musicians are shot through with an energy and belief they'd never quite been able to summon and sustain over the full course of an album before. You can sense how thrilled and enlivened they are by the quality of the material they're working with. For every strong track on the ABBA album, there's a stronger equivalent on Arrival: the dream-dance pop of Dancing Queen and the mature, bittersweet AOR of Knowing Me, Knowing You go higher and further than Mamma-Mia and S.O.S. My Love, My Life is a better take on the yearning chamber ballad than I've Been Waiting, because both the words and Agnetha's performance have been dialled down; there's less emoting, and the fantastic arrangement gives it a delicate, ethereal quality that the earlier track lacks. The title track, meanwhile, is a more integrated, more purposeful instrumental than Intermezzo, and scores extra points for functioning as a novel album closer. Even Arrival's minor tracks offer a fair amount: off-hand lyrics aside, Dum Dum Diddle is a catchy, affecting little track featuring a lovely Benny keybs riff, and That's Me has a quirky, sardonic vibe, Agnetha and Freda showing that they can voice emotionally confident, self-contained characters as well as they can wounded ones in turmoil. The only true throwaway on it is Why Did It Have To Be Me, another ponderous rocker in the Rock Me mould; that aside though, everything else plays a part and earns its place. I think Arrival remains their best album, although The Album runs it very close.
'Arrival' is certainly a 'better' album than 'ABBA'. More polished, more coherent, more consistent. For me, though, the scattershot and somewhat random nature of 'ABBA' is very much part of its charm and its appeal. You never know quite where it's going next, so you get that sense of jeopardy and (dare I say excitement) that's inevitably absent from superior, more focused albums. It's a bit like ABBA's equivalent of a white-knuckle ride. Personally, I'm happy with everything on it except possibly IDox5. I've always enjoyed 'Rock Me' and always loved 'Intermezzo No.1'. The first time I ever heard those two tracks was when I went to see 'The Movie' and they blew me away; so, in my mind, they still retain a certain live-ness, zip and excitement whenever I hear them.
Good point! I know it's a good one, because I've been making it myself for many years! The very cheekiness of that title indicates an act with enough well-deserved confidence to show the world that they're about to make a quantum leap in their creative career. Another example that comes to mind is young Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home"...
To adress the thread-starter, you can't really compare them, they're both hugely enjoyable in their own ways, 'ABBA' was conclusive proof that they were going places...and 'Arrival' is where they went.
(And I must confess that I too, have a soft spot for Rock Me, possibly because of childhood memories...but Björn really got to prove he could sing!)
Arrival's cover art work is also a big step-up from that of self-titled's, and visually backs up the 'message' of the album title. ABBA present themselves as equal parts of a team; they're close by, yet still seem distant and enclosed, the occupants of a slightly different world than the one inhabited by most of the rest of us. The clothing and the setting act as subtle reinforcements: the plain white outfits represent apparel for a new era (they almost look a bit uniform-like), while the wide, empty expanse of field can be seen as a tabula rasa or the arena for a fresh start. The artwork for the ABBA '75 album is certainly very nicely done, but trades in cliche a bit: pop/rockers as the new aristocracy, living the blank good life; stylish and a bit shallow. The Arrival cover is a more effective mingling of image and message, one of the most iconic album covers there is.
What do people have against schlager? I've loved I Do x5 from the first time I heard it. It's catchy and pleasant to to listen to. But I don't agree that the ABBA album is better than the Arrival album. I agree with most ABBA fans that Arrival and ABBA-The Album are their two best albums.
'Arrival' every time. BUT early ABBA has its charm and moments of brilliance. I don't understand why people use schlager as a dirty word, either. I really like it, always have- even before I knew what the term meant. Same with Middle-of-the-Road as a term of derision...what's wrong with that? Nothing, I say. Karen Carpenter is one of the greats and I'd defend her talent at every turn. I LIKE 'Easy Listening'.