[1] Thank You For The Music? ABBA – Gold.

12 Apr

“I’m a Rocker / I’m a Roller too.”

So said Phil Lynott right around the time I was born, and that sounds about right to me.  Of course I’m not *just* a rock ‘n’ roller, but I think it is fair to say that Europop Discoer doesn’t make the Top 20.

Which brings me to ABBA – Gold.

Gold: Greatest Hits (ABBA album)

Gold: Greatest Hits (ABBA album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thin Lizzy doesn’t make the list, but it starts with ABBA?

When I found 1kRTHBYD, I was dreaming of nights rediscovering Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, of afternoons finally polishing up my education in jazz and blues of all flavors, and of mornings listening to old favorites with new ears.

None of which applies to ABBA.

It’s not that I *dislike* ABBA.  I’ve bopped along to “Waterloo” often enough (although I believe I first discovered the song as a 1986 cover by Doctor and the Medics).  I’ve laughed out loud as Gerry Dieffenbach used Ulveaus and Anderson as a Piano Bar punchline while belting out a truly wonderful rendition of “Dancing Queen”.  I’ve even sung “Super Trouper” karaoke . . .

But it is absolutely *not* what I had in mind when thinking of the 1,000 as a “best” or “most important” list.  I wonder if it is fate or design that has Tom Moon list them first in the book.  It has to have come up in discussion as an argument against alphabetizing the list . . .

All of which is what is going through my mind as I sit, building up the courage to start my 2 decades long journey of musical discovery.  An hour or a week listening to music I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Seems like the whole point of the excercise in hindsight.

Starting with ABBA?

Maybe Steven Tyler was right.  “Just press play . . .”

Let’s give them their due as trailblazers.  Without ABBA, it is doubtful we have such ESL acts as A-ha and Roxette, who I enjoy in a fun, throwaway pop way.  Which is, I guess the way I’ve always heard ABBA – in passing, on the radio.  What happens when I listen with a musician’s ear, view with a scholar’s eye?  I close my eyes and try to do just that.

But it turns out that it is just impossible not to sing along!  Even if the lyrics are often essentially meaningless – a case for the universality of the language of music? – you know you remember every word.

And there’s more.  When actually paying attention, the a capella harmonies that open “Take A Chance”, for example,  are . . . genius?  That is the word I land on when a band like Queen produce a similar effect.

These melodies are simple, sweeping and ludicrously infectious, the harmonies tight and sweet.  If the lyrics are  for the most part trite they are also beyond catchy.

The biggest complaint I find is that there’s no heat, no passion captured in the delivery – it’s all so clean and safe.  Which is probably one reason for the huge sales and massive following, yet I wonder whether these well crafted songs could soar with a more accomplished delivery.  Has anyone “good” ever covered “Super Trouper”?  What would Paige and Dickson have done with “Money”?

But still, an unexpected smile splits my face each time “The Winner Takes It All” kicks up a gear.  And the nostalgic sense memory that comes with the sax riffs in “Waterloo” has a power that I feel bodily.  There are reasons that these thoroughly 70s  singles still resonate, that this collection of Greatest Hits still sells.

Speaking of “Waterloo” – the Eurovision Song Contest winner that started it all for ABBA – I’ve always been a fan of saxophone in pop / rock music – it adds a certain flair and fun whether it’s a blistering solo (RIP Clarence Clemons) or, as in this debut hit that closes the first of 1,000 recordings, merely a brush of color here and there.  There should be more sax in modern mainstream music . . .

Thank You for the Music

Thank You for the Music (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

“So I say thank you for the music /
The songs I’m singing /
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing /
Who could live without it /
I ask in all honesty what would life be /
Without a song or a dance what are we?”

 

 

It’s not Sondheim, but I am happy to admit there are worse sentiments, and worse ways to spend my listening time.

Owned before blogging?  No  (0/1, 0%)
Heard before blogging?  Yes (1/1, 100%)
Recommend? A surprised Yes  (1/1, 100%)

I like statistics, so will be tracking a few of them as I make my way through the list.  If there is something else you might be interested in tracking along the way, please let me know, and I’ll see about adding it.

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16 Responses to “[1] Thank You For The Music? ABBA – Gold.”

  1. doronklemer April 12, 2013 at 1:04 PM #

    Love it! especially the surprise of enjoying something you thought you knew and didn’t much like, and the stats, (very Dave Gorman’esque: would it be worth a ‘Seen Live’ stat?)

    Looking forward to the next 999…

  2. Heather April 12, 2013 at 4:03 PM #

    The very first music I actually owned (that was actually mine rather than my parents’ or siblings’) was an ABBA album.

    It’s actually good that the list contains things like this rather than the pretension that normally comes with ‘before you die’ sort of things (although I’m sure they’re coming). Here’s to the pop (and the rock) that’s to come.

  3. lizgiles April 13, 2013 at 9:13 AM #

    Oh, I love ABBA. There…I said it.
    The greatest hits album is a surefire smile inducer for me. The sort of thing I put on in the background when I’m cooking and bop along to happily. Glad to see a recommendation for this one.

    As far as stats go…I’d love to see your favorite song on each album, or perhaps the one you think is most musically significant. Just a thought.

  4. carolyn support April 13, 2013 at 11:18 PM #

    i’m really intrigued by your blog…especially given your mix of likes, which are truly similar to mine, and come from a gamut of sources and styles. i think that when listening with a musician’s ear, there are many things out there, even if simplistic, that make an impression, but for many different reasons. the drive of a song, as it was originally intended to deliver a message, thought, or feeling, can actually drive it to its full force. it means something to someone, even if just the lyricist. i guess that’s why i’m not a big fan of pop music, in the pop sense, but can even appreciate some of it.
    i’m looking forward to your next listening experience; i wonder if i will react similarly.

  5. nycavri April 14, 2013 at 8:41 AM #

    @ Doron. “Seen Live” is a good idea, but would be quite a dull stat since I think it might sit at 0% until “S” – Simply Red, Sondheim, Springsteen . . .

    @ Heather. Plenty of “mainstream” stuff to come mixed in with all the prentention – even “Freebird”!

    @ Liz. Top track on this album is glam masterpiece “Waterloo”, if only for reasons of nostalgia.

    @ Carolyn. I really thought my musical tastes were pretty eclectic before beginning this journey . . .

  6. Joe Gola April 14, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

    I love the song “S.O.S.” The one lady’s singing has a thin, metallic quality that seems very vulnerable and plaintive.

  7. nycavri December 1, 2014 at 8:15 AM #

    Reblogged this on . . . To Hear Before I Blog and commented:

    Throughout December I am going to revisit the first months of this journey, taking time at the end of this year to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve heard.

  8. macchiaroni April 25, 2015 at 9:55 AM #

    This would be hard for me to listen to, not only because I try to avoid hits compilations, but mainly because it’s so packaged and bubblegum. But there’s no denying the pop song craft as evidenced by NZ bands on this: http://www.discogs.com/Various-Abbasalutely/release/658383

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] my brain *still* defaulting to ABBA choruses as I walk down the street, Blu Blu Blu is the first album early in this process that I am sure I […]

  3. [5] AC/DC – Back In Black | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - May 10, 2013

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  4. ABBA Move Into Second Place | Stirring Trouble i - May 22, 2013

    […] Thank You For The Music? ABBA – Gold. (avri1000.wordpress.com) […]

  5. [12] Aerosmith – Toys In The Attic | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - June 28, 2013

    […] mentioned responded in the comments section of the first post of this blog that I was unlikely to track a “Seen Live” stat since I feared it would […]

  6. [21] Los Amigos Invisibles – Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey Into Space | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - August 30, 2013

    […] more one through time as at various moments the sound is mainstream 60s then 90s college rock, 70s disco then 80s synth-pop. And always returning to a distictly latin […]

  7. [45] The Balfa Brothers – Play Traditional Cajun Music | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - February 14, 2014

    […] the switch from the As to the Bs, I also made the switch from purchasing physical CDs (and records), to streaming almost […]

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    […] as I found with ABBA way back at the start of this blog, I wouldn’t have blinked twice to find a Greatest Hits set included in the […]

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