ABBA

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This page updated 28 May 2000
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The first known ABBA record to be released in Australia was the single ‘Ring Ring’/‘Rock ’n Roll Band’ in 1973, which was credited to Bj�rn & Benny, Anna & Frida see the Ring Ring single. This single managed to get to number 92 on the Australian chart. Both these songs were featured on the Ring Ring album, released in November 1973, also credited to Bj�rn & Benny, Anna & Frida see the Ring Ring LP cover. This release had the same cover as the original Swedish release, with the so-called "3D" front cover, and a black back cover with a black and white photo of the group. The album contained twelve songs recorded over the previous four years, some songs featuring Bj�rn and Benny only, as well as the only song ABBA ever recorded written by Agnetha, ‘Disillusion’, with English lyrics by Bj�rn. The album was at the time unique to Australia as it featured the song ‘She’s My Kind Of Girl’ in place of the Swedish version of the title track. This album has seen the most re-releases of any ABBA record in Australia (eight to date). It has been rumoured that either or both of the singles ‘People Need Love’ and ‘He Is Your Brother’ (both featured on the Ring Ring album) may have been released in Australia in 1972 or early 1973, but this has never been confirmed.

1974 saw the release of the ‘Waterloo’/‘Watch Out’ single in April, followed by the Waterloo album in May. These were the first records released under the artist title ABBA, though the cover and labels also featured the four individual names, a practice that continued until late 1975 see the Waterloo LP cover. Waterloo featured eleven songs in many diverse styles, as ABBA struggled to find their own sound, a feat they would finally achieve with the next album. The Australian version of the Waterloo album was probably unique at the time, as in other countries the album included the song ‘Waterloo’ in Swedish or German or possibly French (depending of course on the native tongue), and other territories ‘Ring Ring’ was added. The ‘Waterloo’ single was ABBA’s first to enter the Australian top 10, reaching number 4, while the album reached only number 67 at this time. Upon reentering the chart in late 1975 it eventually reached number 18.

In July 1974 the remixed version of ‘Ring Ring’ was released as the follow up single to ‘Waterloo’, with the same B-side as the original release. Around this time RCA had changed the type style on the record labels see the Ring Ring single. This single only reached number 90, but re-entered the chart in January 1976 to reach number 7. This remixed version was also featured in the film clip, which unfortunately has never been released commercially. Curiously, this remix has only ever been included on one album, a German compilation The Best Of ABBA (Polydor 2459 301). There is also an alternative remixed version of this song featured on the US and Canadian Waterloo album (Atlantic SD 18101).

Next in September another pair of songs from the Waterloo album were released as a single - ‘Honey, Honey’ and ‘Dance (While The Music Still Goes On)’, at around the same time as the English group Sweet Dreams were experiencing a hit with ‘Honey, Honey’. Combined both versions of ‘Honey, Honey’ reached number 30.

In November 1974 RCA decided to split the current overseas single into two, creating unique twin singles. ‘So Long’/‘Hasta Ma�ana’ and ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’/‘King Kong Song’. The two A-sides were from the yet to be completed new album (eventually released in June 1975) while the two B-sides were pulled from the Waterloo album. ‘So Long’ failed to chart, but ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ reached number 49. In mid 1976 ‘Hasta Ma�ana’ reached number 15 on the chart, after the song became a hit for local singer Judy Stone. ‘King Kong Song’ briefly entered the chart upon the release of the remake of the film King Kong in 1977, reaching only number 94.

December saw another unique Australian release - the Waterloo EP, featuring both sides of the ‘Waterloo’ and ‘Ring Ring’ singles, though the album version of the latter was included. At the time RCA released a number of EPs featuring hits by artists on their label, and ABBA were no exception. This was the first Australian 7 inch ABBA record to feature a picture sleeve see the Waterloo EP cover, with a yellow-tinted black and white photo of the group on the front, and the tracks listed on the back accompanied by a panel advertising other EPs in the series. The EP made it to number 60 in 1976.

* The first ABBA single for 1975 was ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’/‘Rock Me’, released in April. The A side was ABBA’s first Australian number 1 single, pushed up by the 'Mamma Mia' hoopla, which itself soon replaced 'I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do' at number 1. In mid 1976, at the height of "ABBAmania" in Australia the single reentered the charts again as ‘Rock Me’, which reached a high of number 4.

The ABBA album, featuring many future hits was released in June 1975 see the ABBA LP cover. Eventually every song on this album bar one would appear on either a single or compilation in Australia within the next six months. This album showcased the talents of each member of the group, while finally establishing the unique "ABBA sound" and they were rewarded with huge success with this album and subsequent singles. ABBA was also available on cassette and 8-track cartridge, and was ABBA’s first number 1 album in Australia. Curiously, in their habit of rearranging songs on the cassette and cartridge versions of albums, RCA created an extended version of 'I've Been Waiting For You' for the cassette, repeating the third verse and final chorus.

In August RCA released ‘Mamma Mia’ from the ABBA album as a single, backed by ‘Hey, Hey Helen’, after the song had received such a huge response to the film clip being shown on the ABC-TV program Countdown in April. Australia was the first country where this song was released as a single and it became ABBA’s second number 1 hit. Having proven its potential it was later released in other parts of the world. Incidentally, early pressings of this single listed the song title as ‘Mama Mia’ (sic), which was corrected in 1976, when the single was repressed with the famous "backwards B" logo on the label.

The next single, ‘SOS’/‘Man In The Middle’ was released in October. The release of this single was delayed by RCA due to the huge success of ‘Mamma Mia’, and when released it became ABBA’s third number 1 single in a row, * giving ABBA a total of 14 weeks in a row at the top of the chart with three seperate singles. Both songs are from the ABBA album.

Sometime in late 1975 ABBA filmed various promotional spots for the ABC-TV program Countdown, which were shown on the show during 1976.

The first compilation album The Best Of ABBA was released in November 1975 in the states of South Australia and Western Australia only see The Best Of ABBA LP cover. It was released in the rest of the country in February 1976, by which time it had already entered the national top 40. This album featured all the hit singles to date plus a selection of tracks from the previous three albums. This album was unique to Australia, as most other countries released a variation of the 14 or 15 track album Greatest Hits. The Best Of ABBA was of course a number 1 smash and went on to sell over one and a quarter million copies, and it is still the biggest selling album of all time in Australia. For those skeptics that would like to check it’s in the Guiness Book of Records.

Also in November 1975 the Ring Ring album was re-released in its most well known Australian cover, the so-called "Lois Jeans" cover, with a photo of the group wearing Lois brand jeans on a blue background see the Ring Ring album. The artist credit on this and all subsequent re-releases of this album had been changed to ABBA. This reissue of Ring Ring was also available on cassette and 8-track cartridge, and reached number 10.

In early March 1976 ABBA visited Australia for two weeks to film a television special for Channel 9. The TV special, titled The Best Of ABBA (overseas it was titled ABBA in Australia), was filmed in Sydney and Melbourne, and featured most of the songs from The Best Of ABBA album, plus both sides of the new single, ‘Fernando’, performed in the TV studio. The version of this special shown overseas also featured much location footage, particularly around the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney. ABBA also taped a performance of the planned next single, ‘Dancing Queen’, which was screened on Channel 9 when the single was released in August, as well as performing ‘Mamma Mia’ for an episode of Channel 9’s Bandstand, which was screened the week before the special.

Upon ABBA’s arrival to film the TV special the single that became the biggest selling single of all time in Australia, ‘Fernando’/‘Tropical Loveland’, was released. ‘Fernando’ was a new song while its B-side was the final track to be pulled from the ABBA album for a single. This single stayed at the number 1 position for a record 15 weeks, and remained in the charts for 33 weeks. It has been reported that in the first 9 months of release this single sold over 376,000 copies! RCA changed the type style on record labels again in 1976 see the Fernando single.

Another number 1 hit was released in August 1976: ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘That’s Me’. Both songs were from the forthcoming Arrival album. This was the first ABBA single in Australia to feature a full colour picture sleeve, in a design unique to Australia, modified from the original Swedish sleeve. It should also be noted that there are three variations of the ‘Dancing Queen’ picture sleeve, all related to the ABBA logo. The first version of the cover had the ABBA logo with the reversed B and the � registered trademark symbol see the 2nd Dancing Queen single cover,  The second rare cover had the "backwards B" reversed, so both Bs were the right way round see the 1st Dancing Queen single cover. Apparently, this was due to a copyright dispute with an advertising firm over the Bs facing each other, though the dispute must obviously have been resolved quickly - on the release date copies of the first version were plentiful. Contrary to a bizarre rumour that has circulated there are more than just three of these covers in existence. The third minor change featured the ABBA logo with the reversed B, but dropped the registered trademark symbol see the 3rd Dancing Queen single cover. The two variations with the reverse B loge are equally common, though there are probably thousands of copies of the "rare" forward B version in circulation. From 1976 until 1982 RCA printed the ABBA logo on the record labels see the Dancing Queen single.

In October Channel 7 screened a television special, ABBA in Sweden, which featured a specially recorded interview with the four members by Ian Meldrum, filmed in Stockholm during the northern summer. This special also featured the Australian premiere of the next single, ‘Money, Money, Money’, released later in the month. This single featured a previously unreleased song recorded in 1974, ‘Crazy World’, on the B-side. The cover for this single was another unique to Australia, being modified somewhat from the original Scandinavian design see the Money, Money, Money single cover. RCA changed to tan labels for their singles at this time see the Money, Money, Money single, though 'The Name Of The Game' in 1977 initially had the yellow label. This single was ABBA’s 6th and last number 1 hit in Australia.

October also saw the premiere of the advertisements ABBA filmed in Sweden during the northern Summer exclusively for the Australian market for the Japanese electronics firm National (now Panasonic), with new lyrics to the tune of ‘Fernando’ ("There is so much more to National..."). There were originally five versions of the television advertisements, plus radio spots, but later version of the ads featured parts of the backing track without vocals, and later still a shortened version of the song, but with new footage not featuring the group. Unfortunately the modified song has never been released on record. Newspaper and magazine ads, plus in store promotional posters, featured many photos of the group taken during the filming of the commercials.

The long-awaited Arrival album was released in November 1976, and was instantly a huge hit see the Arrival LP cover. For the Australian market RCA added ‘Fernando’ onto side 2 as this song had not previously been on an ABBA album in Australia (in most other countries it had featured on Greatest Hits), and also created a unique gatefold sleeve, with photo and song lyrics inside. In addition to three hit singles Arrival also featured many other songs that became fan favourites and concert staples, such as ‘When I Kissed The Teacher’ and ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’. This album was the last ABBA album to reach number 1, though most others did reach the top ten.

In February 1977, just before the group arrived for what would be their only concert tour of Australia, the last single from Arrival, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ was released in another unique Australian cover see the Knowing Me, Knowing You cover. The B-side was an unreleased song, ‘Happy Hawaii’, recorded during the Arrival sessions, which was billed on the single sleeve as an "early version of ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’" from Arrival. ‘Happy Hawaii’ featured sections musically identical to the verse of ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’ but was sung by the girls, rather than Bj�rn, and had a "Hawaiian" feel to it. At the time the single was released it was reported that ‘Happy Hawaii’ had been released at the request of record company executives and journalists who heard the song when visiting Polar during the recording of Arrival and wondered why the song wasn’t on the album. Sometimes billed as a double A side, this single reached number 9. ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ was included on the various artists compilation album 20 Supercharged Hits (Super RWS001), released by RCA in 1977, probably the first time an ABBA song featured on one of these albums.

ABBA arrived for their concert tour at the end of February, and performed to over 140,000 people at a total of 11 concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Many concerts were filmed and recorded for a proposed tour documentary to be released in cinemas later in the year, but during the European leg of the tour it was decided to add a storyline to break up the concert footage and add interest for the general public. ABBA performed many of their hits in the concerts, which climaxed in what was billed as a mini-musical, "The Girl With The Golden Hair", which featured four new songs telling the story of a young girl who seeks and eventually finds stardom, only to feel trapped in her fame. The concerts also featured a new song used to humorously introduce the members of the group, alternately titled ‘We Are A Simple Four-Letter Word’ or ‘I Am An A’. It was originally announced that a live album would be released to coincide with the tour film but this was not to be.

An incidental bit of trivia: at some stage in mid-1977 some of the albums were issued with an Australian inner sleeve, with a "Keep Australia Beautiful" photo on one side see the "ABBA Catalogue" LP inner sleeve and advertising the first 5 albums (Ring Ring "Lois Jeans" cover, Waterloo, ABBA, The Best of ABBA and Arrival) see the "ABBA Catalogue" LP inner sleeve. Probably the most tasteful cover ever designed by RCA in the Seventies. For some odd reason copies of Ring Ring with this insert were particularly common.

The "Keep Australia Beautiful" photograph was taken for use in an advertising campaign to promote the national litter-reduction campaign, in newspaper advertisements, on posters and billboards in 1977. There were also radio advertisements that used an excerpt from the song 'Tropical Loveland', while an announcer read the message. The advertisements were created by the Masius Wynne Williams advertising agency for the Keep Australia Beautiful council.

CONTINUE

� 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by Ian Cole, Sydney Australia