Swedish article from 1976, from the magazine "Sussi". It shows once again, how the Swedish journalists attacks ABBA, at the same time as they are praising them. This guy, I'm sorry I don't have his name, is really torn, in one sentence he sounds like he really dislikes them, and in the next he thinks they are fantastic... Well, that was quite common in the way ABBA was treated in Sweden during the 70's.
The supersensationalfantasticimpressive ABBA has done it again... and again... and again... and
ABBA Dabba Dooooo
Napoleon was a great field marshal who planned and planned his battles in every detail. He was a great tactic. He only lost one battle or two.
ABBA is a group of the same caliber. They plan their battles in every detail, and even if they have been lucky - or is it due to skillfullness? They have won everything they have ever tried. The difference between Napoleon and ABBA is Waterloo. Napoleon met his destiny there, but for ABBA it was a success.
Maybe someone still remembers what happened. April 6, 1974. The finals in Melodi Grand Prix in the English town of Brighton. One hour from London. ABBA was there, representing Sweden. They had brought a pocketsized hit "Waterloo". Even though they afterwards said that they were really surprised to win, it was all planned beforehand. And in reality it went exactly as they had planned.
The year before ABBA had been counting on winning the Swedish Melodi Grand Pix. They had hired Neil Sedaka to write the English lyrics to "Ring Ring". But they got the thumbs down. They ended up on third place. But the sweet revenge came afterwards. The "academic" song that won only sold a few thousand copies, while ABBA's "Ring Ring" sold over 100.000 copies, both in Swedish and in English. It also became a hit outside of Sweden, in Denmark and Norway for example.
IN THE CHARTS
Because of "Waterloo" 1974 became a good year for ABBA, 1975 got even better. And 1976 has been totally fantastic. It really wasn't "Waterloo" that made ABBA worldfamous. It naturally became a hit all over the world like all the other Melodi Grand Prix winners. But it then faded away and so did ABBA, apart from in Scandinavia, Australia and Germany. The difference between ABBA and all the other Melodi Grand Prix winners were the fact that ABBA could keep on going, producing hit after hit. Good hits. As "SOS, "Hasta Mañana", "I Do, I Do, I Do" and "Fernando" came along more and more got interested in ABBA and more and more realised that ABBA was something to count on: it was more than a temporary phenomenon. They were here to stay. When they released "Dancing Queen" the pre-ordering was unbelieveably high, in fact you had to go back to the days of the Beatles singles to find something similar. And the result was that "Dancing Queen" went straight into the charts in most countries around the world, selling over a 1.000.000 copies in an instant. The money is rolling in to the headquarters, Polar Music, on Baldersgatan in Stockholm.
Young and old are just as crazy about ABBA. There are no limits to their audiences. That's the reason why they have already, after only four years of selling their records in Scandinavia alone, sold more records than the Beatles sold in 14 years! And also abroad their record sellings is approaching Beatles volumes. Their "Greatest Hits" has already sold millions of copies. But they are also the complete opposites to the Beatles. The Liverpool guys created a revolution within pop music. They were trendsetters. They created fashion. They were cult, a lifestyle, a breach against traditions. ABBA is neither. They are a musical group, who writes great songs. But they never speak about politics and there is no hysteria surrounding them. They haven't changed pop music or made it new. But they have collected the good things that was already there and made them their own. And the audience loves them. That's how simple it is.
But who are they really? Two couples of course. Agnetha and Björn got married in 1971. The same year Anni-Frid and Benny moved in together. At that time they had no idea of what would come later. If you had told them that their new album "Arrival" most likely would become the most wanted Christmas gift of 1976 in all of Scandiavia, they would probably have killed themselves laughing.
The fifth wheel in this context has in many ways created their success. His name is Stikkan Anderson as we all know. He used to be a teacher. But then he started to write songs. He, for example, wrote "Är Du Kär I Mig Ännu, Claes-Göran?" - and got more and more money for his music and lyrics. So he stopped teaching (and that was probably just as well), started his own record label, Polar, which today besides ABBA, who is responsible for almost 100% of the incomes, has artists like Svenne & Lotta signed to their label.
Before ABBA became famous (in the beginning they called themselves Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid - you remember, don't you?) they were quite famous separately, at least in Sweden. Agnetha and Anni-Frid were singers and made lots of solo recordings. Björn was the front man of Hootenanny Singers. Benny Andersson was a member of Hep Stars together with, among others, Svenne Hedlund (Svenne & Lotta). Both groups were famous names in Sweden and also to a smaller extent in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Hep Stars made some really bad singles around 1964-65, but they were enormously popular as you all remember. At one occasion they had 4 different songs on the charts at the same time. It was rock'n'roll and the band made lots of money by touring the Folkparks. Who hasn't been there and enjoyed it.
We already now dare to predict that 1977 will be a good year for ABBA. Their new album "Arrival" has sold in so many copies already that it's unavoidable that it's going to be a success. In both Sweden and Denmark the album went straight to number one in the charts. It is a little different from their earlier albums. At the first time you listen through it maybe it doesn't sound so easy to access, but it grows on you... And the production is really slick. Maybe the sound is a little more disco oriented than usual, but that is definitely not a bad thing. It's the current thing to have the "disco sound" so naturally ABBA follow that. Their future is already planned until early 1978. Tours, recordings and TV-shows.
AND AFTER THAT?
Stikkan Anderson says that it's not impossible that they might will move to the USA to live. Even if ABBA as performers and artists would become more uninteresting there, they could easily support themselves by writing songs and lyrics for other groups. And the best place to do that is in America, where you can live close to the recording companies.
And then there's of course that matter of the Swedish taxes. ABBA hasn't started complaining yet, but now when the millions have started to roll in and judging from what we know about other Swedish artists with big incomes like Ingmar Bergman, Astrid Lindgren and Sven-Bertil Taube they all have been forced to move abroad because of the taxes, so we might not be able to keep ABBA in the country. Not even if we get a non-Socialist government.
- So far we are just doing what we want to do, they say, and deny that they are ruled by their manager. Even during a recently Poland produced show they were received as heroes. No other Western act has attracted so many people. And that despite they were only allowed to release 200.000 copies of "Waterloo" - and there won't be any more, why?
- Because we are unable to get hold of our royalties there, or more precisely we can't get them out of the country, says ABBA. So it's natural that they will not release any records for free.
- You know, that is how we make our living.
HOW LONG WILL ABBA PERSEVERE?
The big question is of course how long ABBA will stay on top. When will the audiences get tired of them? They say:
- Since we are so big now, we don't think it will change from one day to another. It will probably be a slow process. So we at least believe in another 3-4 years. But by then it's possible that we have gotten tired of this way of life, the travelling and all the work. By then we will probably long for some peace and quiet - and then we probably can allow ourselves to have that.
Björn Christian Ulvaeus, born April 25, 1945. Married to Agnetha Åsa Fältskog, born April 5, 1950. Together they have a daughter and a big house. Their preferred hobby: quiet weekends with each other and the TV. Göran Benny Andersson, born December 16, 1946. Lives together with Anni-Frid Lyngstad, born November 15, 1945. They have children from earlier marriages.