I was looking for tracks for a themed radio show that I was planning and one of the records that popped up was Abba – The Album, which I do actually have a copy of. It was gifted to me long with several others from their catalogue and a load of classical albums released on the Deutsche Grammophon label.
Now, what I am about to tell you next would (and possibly will) result in the response ‘Gay’ from some of my friends, don’t judge them. So I was soaking in the bath listening to the album (this is the exact point where the first ‘Gay’ would occur) and it brought back a lot of memories. I was 10 years old when it was released, from a single parent family who had recently moved from Wales to England, no friends and about to start comprehensive school, a difficult time. The memories it stirred were not specific, more general really but somewhat melancholy and centred around missed opportunities. As a result of this mood I actually listened to the lyrics rather than let the Abba hit machine wash over me as it normally would, and goddamn, they are so bloody sad.
Album opener The Eagle is a bit trippy lyrically but it is essentially about escape from a life that the speaker feels trapped in:
Take a Chance on me is brilliantly produced and was, of course, a big hit, but the whole thing smacks of desperation, if there is nobody else left then don’t forget about me, I’ll be here waiting. Good lord.
And so it goes on with track three, One Man, One Woman:
No smiles, not a single word at the breakfast table
Though I would have liked to begin
So much that I wanna say, but I feel unable
You leave and slam the door
Like you’ve done many times before
And I cry and I feel so helpless
Although the chorus is perhaps a little more positive suggesting that they will see out their problems together to the end, but that is quite sad in itself.
It is dark stuff indeed. Still it goes on with track 4, The Name Of The Game, which seems to be about insecurity as much as the overlaid love story:
And you make me talk
And you make me feel
And you make me show
What I’m trying to conceal
If I trust in you, would you let me down?
Would you laugh at me, if I said I care for you?
Could you feel the same way too?
I wanna know.
Then we have Move On, Hole In Your Soul and Thank You For The Music, this last one was eventually released as a single about 6 years later and formed part of a mini-musical titled ‘The Girl With The Golden Hair’. The track opens with the following lyric:
I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
Before going on to tell of the gift the girl has been given, the gift of being able to sing. It is overtly joyous as a song but I still feel like there is a dark undercurrent in that, without her voice, she is completely ordinary, nothing special at all.
A1 Eagle – 5:51
A2 Take A Chance On Me – 4:05
A3 One Man, One Woman – 4:25
A4 The Name Of The Game -4:54
B1 Move On – 4:42
B2 Hole In Your Soul – 3:41
The Girl With The Golden Hair – 3 Scenes From A Mini Musical
B3a Thank You For The Music – 3:48
B3b I Wonder (Departure) – 4:33
B3c I’m A Marionette -3:54
That last 3 scenes from a musical thing is all a bit musical theatre to be honest but it is saved by Thank you for the music to some degree. Now I am not going to claim to like ABBA at all, but what I can’t do is say that I dislike ABBA, after all, they undeniably put out some brilliant pop singles and like most people I would find myself singing along but checking to make sure I couldn’t be seen doing it.
Rating: 8.1 (For the very good A side mostly)