BACK

After the Australian tour ABBA returned to Sweden to work on their film of the tour and record the next album, while Agnetha also awaited the birth of her second child. Finally in October the first new single of the year, ‘The Name Of The Game’ was released, with a song recorded live in Sydney in March, ‘I Wonder (Departure)’, on the B-side. ‘I Wonder’ was the second song in the mini-musical "The Girl With The Golden Hair", and would be recorded in the studio for the next album. The single cover was slightly modified from the Swedish release, having a blue background instead of black see The Name Of The Game single cover. The first issues of this single featured the traditional yellow RCA label, not seen on an ABBA single since ‘Dancing Queen’. Repressings in early 1978 came with a tan label, with a large ABBA logo with the four-figure drawing featured on The Album, The Movie and The Folio titles, as did the ‘Take A Chance On Me’ and ‘Eagle’ singles, also released in 1978 see The Name Of The Game single. The highest position on the chart this excellent single could achieve was number 6. Originally it had been planned to release ‘Hole In Your Soul’ as the first single from The Album, with ‘I Wonder’ on the B-side. RCA had even assigned a catalogue number to this single, but on advice from Polar the single was changed apparently before any copies of ‘Hole In Your Soul’ were pressed. A unique 3.36 edited version of ‘The Name Of The Game’ was included on the various artists compilation Ripsnorter (RCA TV006), released in mid 1978, which unlike later edited version cuts out the second chorus repeat, rather than the second verse.

ABBA - The Movie had its world premiere in Stockholm and Sydney in December 1977. The Movie contained many ABBA hits recorded live on the tour in "Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne" earlier in the year, plus four songs from the soon to be released accompanying album (and a small excerpt from another). The Movie also featured several songs that were never released on record, notably the fourth song from "The Girl With The Golden Hair", ‘Get On The Carousel’ (which was cannibalised for ‘Hole In Your Soul’ on The Album) and ‘Please Change Your Mind’, written by Bj�rn and Benny and recorded by Nashville Train (actually ABBA’s backing musicians) and released on their album ABBA Our Way, featuring ABBA songs performed in a country and western style, and released in 1978. The Movie featured a storyline, interspersed with the live footage, Australian DJ Ashley (played by Robert Hughes) following ABBA the around country, seeking an exclusive interview, only to be thwarted at each attempt to meet the group by their bodyguard, played by Tom Oliver. Unfortunately a soundtrack live album of The Movie was not released, but the forthcoming album was tied in by featuring the same artwork and logo. The Movie has yet to be released on video in Australia, though it has been available overseas for many years.

January 1978 saw the release of ABBA - The Album, delayed from its originally announced release date of mid-December see the ABBA The Album LP cover. The Album included several songs featured in The Movie plus studio recordings of the first three songs from the mini-musical "The Girl With the Golden Hair". The songs overall were more sombre than on previous albums, though the album was still a hit. The Album featured an inner sleeve with a group photo on one side, and the lyrics to all the songs on the reverse. Front and back covers featured illustrations tying the album in with The Movie. The Album made it up to number 4 on the chart. Note that the music songbook for this album was called (obviously) ABBA - The Folio.

In February the next single ‘Take A Chance On Me’/‘I’m A Marionette’ was released. Both songs featured on The Album, the B-side being the third song from "The Girl With the Golden Hair", and the single didn’t quite make the top 10, reaching number 12. The cover for this and all subsequent singles with sleeves (except ‘When All Is Said And Done’) were identical to the Scandinavian releases see the Take A Chance On Me single cover. RCA changed the type style on the labels again in 1978, reverting to the same typestyle used in 1973 - 74 see the Take A Chance On Me single. In May, another single ‘Eagle’/‘Thank You For The Music’ was released. ‘Eagle’ was an Australia only 3.36 edit, other territories where this single was released featured a 4.23 edited version (since released on More ABBA Gold). ‘Thank You For The Music’ was the first song from "The Girl With the Golden Hair" and has become ABBA’s de facto theme song. This single had what was probably one of the most attractive ABBA picture sleeves ever released see the Eagle single cover, but only reached number 82.

In May ABBA travelled to the United States to film a television special with adopted Australians (though both were British born) Olivia Newton John and Andy Gibb, both of whom had been raised in Australia. The special, titled Olivia, featured ABBA performing several of their hits live in the studio, as well as performing for the first time in public songs not written by Bj�rn and Benny. The special also featured a segment with all the featured artists sitting around informally, chatting and singing various "oldies", including songs by the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys and Billy Joel plus some opera!

In October ABBA’s first major slab of disco was released, ‘Summer Night City’. The B-side contained the only released example of ABBA recording songs they did not write, with three traditional songs ‘Medley: Pick A Bale Of Cotton/On Top Of Old Smokey/Midnight Special’ see the Summer Night City single cover. The ‘Medley’ had originally been released in 1975 on a German charity LP Stars In Zeichen Eines Guten Sterns (a.k.a. Die Deutsche Krebshilfe). The single made it up to number 13 on the chart. This single was the first with RCA’s new style picture sleeves.

In February 1979, hot on the heels of the news of Bj�rn and Agnetha’s divorce, ‘Chiquitita’ c/w ‘Lovelight’ see the Chiquitita single cover was released, becoming ABBA’s biggest hit in some time, reaching number 4. ‘Chiquitita’ was performed by ABBA at the UNICEF concert A Gift of Song at the United Nations in New York in January, and all royalties would be donated to charities for the International Year of the Child. An album of the concert, featuring a mimed version of ‘Chiquitita’ in front of the huge crowd present, was released on the Polydor label later in the year (The Music For UNICEF Concert/A Gift Of Song Polydor LP 2335214/Cassette 3199214). The B-side was destined not to be included on the next album, though curiously in re-release in the Nineties two previously unreleased remixes of the song appeared, on More ABBA Gold and the box set Thank You For The Music. Some overseas releases of this single featured a slightly shorter version of ‘Lovelight’, which faded earlier. ‘Chiquitita’ was also included on the various artists compilation album Bacon & Eggs (7 Records MLT 319), released through RCA in late 1979.

In May the new album Voulez-Vous see the Voulez-Vous LP cover and single ‘Does Your Mother Know’/‘Kisses of Fire’ see the Does Your Mother Know single cover were released with near identical cover photos . Both continued with the disco trend started with ‘Summer Night City’. This single also made the top 10, reaching number 7. Many of the songs on Voulez-Vous also found their way onto singles in 1979. The album came with an inner sleeve with song lyrics on both sides, and was the first to be recorded in Polar’s new studio in Stockholm. The cassette release of Voulez-Vous featured for the first time on an ABBA cassette a specially modified cover, rather than a reproduction of the album sleeve surrounded by a white field. Voulez-Vous was another top 10 hit, reaching number 5.

The rarest ABBA single to be released since the original issue of ‘Ring Ring’ in 1973 was released in June. RCA saw fit to release ‘Chiquitita (Spanish Version)’/‘Lovelight’, making Australia one of the few non-Spanish speaking markets to release this single see the Chiquitita (Spanish Version) single. The single was the first since ‘Dancing Queen’ not to come with a picture sleeve, and limited distribution did not help sales. RCA announced at the time that this limited edition single was being released for the benefit of Australian ABBA fans, though through lack of publicity many fans were unaware of its release.

In August another single from the new album ‘Voulez-Vous’/‘Angeleyes’ was released, with another particularly attractive cover see the Voulez-Vous single cover. A different photo from this same session was used for the cover of the box set Thank You For The Music in 1994. In some countries ‘Angeleyes’ was slightly shorter, which faded earlier than the normal version. An edited version of ‘Voulez-Vous’ was included on the various artists compilation album Summer Gold (7 Records MLT 337) released through RCA in late 1979. This double A side single only got to number 79 on the chart.

In October, to coincide with ABBA’s tour of North America and Europe, the newly recorded single ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’ was released, with another Voulez-Vous track ‘The King Has Lost His Crown’ on the B-side see the Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! single cover. The single was another top ten hit, reaching number 8. The album ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2, featuring the new single plus 13 other hits or album tracks from 1975 - 79, was released see the ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2 LP cover. By 1979 ABBA records were no longer selling in the same huge numbers as in ’75 and ’76, and RCA probably felt it wasn’t worth the expense to repackage this album as The Best of ABBA Vol. 2 to remain faithful to their 1976 release. As it was this album only reached number 20. New Zealand RCA pressings of Vol. 2 also featured the overseas inner sleeve, which featured the triangle backdrop used on ABBA’s 1979 tour (seen at the start of this Discography), and subsequently became the label design for Polar Records. ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ and Greatest Hits Vol. 2 featured near identical cover photos. Also in October RCA re-released the Waterloo EP from 1974, with the same picture sleeve but in the late Seventies paper and plastic bag style see the Waterloo EP cover.

February 1980 saw the release of one final single from Voulez-Vous, ‘I Have A Dream’, backed with ‘Take A Chance On Me’ recorded live at Wembley Arena, London in November 1979. Another small seller, it only reached number 64. This single was released in the UK just prior to Christmas ’79 with a gatefold sleeve as a souvenir of ABBA’s tour, but RCA printed it as a single sleeve with the same photo on front and back see the I Have A Dream single cover. Some overseas releases of this single featured a slightly shorter version of the live recording, which was also remixed heavily for 1986’s ABBA Live album.

The second reissue of Ring Ring came in June 1980. The album was released by budget label Summit Records and featured a sleeve using the cover photo from the 1978 ‘Eagle’ single see the Ring Ring LP cover. The record had a blue RCA label and the same track listing as earlier issues.

The first new ABBA single of the Eighties was probably their finest: ‘The Winner Takes It All’/‘Elaine’, released in August see The Winner Takes It All single cover. The B-side was to join the select ranks of B-sides not featured on an album. This excellent single was one of ABBA’s last big hits, reaching number 7, aided by a stunning and poignant film clip.

In November 1980 ABBA released their most accomplished album: Super Trouper see the Super Trouper LP cover. Featuring the A-side of the previous single, plus both sides of the next two, the album also included a live recording of the anthem sung as the finale of the concerts in late 1979, ‘The Way Old Friends Do’ (though with synthesiser, percussion and vocals added in the studio). Super Trouper featured ABBA’s most sophisticated collection of songs. RCA released the album with a double-sided paper insert with the lyrics to all songs, rather than an inner sleeve as with earlier albums, and also on cassette. This was ABBA’s last original top ten album, reaching number 5.

In December the single ‘On And On And On’/‘The Piper’ was released. This was another coupling unique to Australia; other territories released ‘Super Trouper’/‘The Piper’ in the same sleeve as this single to coincide with the album see the On And On And On single cover. ‘On And On And On’ reached number 9 in the charts, the last time an ABBA record would reach the top ten. Next came another pairing from Super Trouper: ‘Super Trouper’/‘Happy New Year’, another Australia only coupling and one that could have been a hit if released more appropriately in late 1980, not March ’81. Instead, it only reached number 77. This single, and the next, ‘One Of Us’, did not come with a picture sleeve.

In December 1981 the final new ABBA album, The Visitors, was released. RCA released the album in a gatefold sleeve with the lyrics on the inside, whereas in other markets the lyrics were featured on an inner sleeve. This album was a major departure for ABBA, trying new musical styles and sounds, with only a couple of tracks retaining the familiar ABBA sound. By this time Benny and Frida had also divorced, and many songs reflected the end of relationships. A dark and moody album, it was not a big hit in Australia, climbing to only number 22 on the album chart.

The first single from The Visitors, ‘One Of Us’ was released for the first time after the album it was meant to promote, in January 1982. It featured a non-LP B-side, ‘Should I Laugh Or Cry’. ‘One Of Us’ was probably the most typically ABBA-like song on the album, but unfortunately also the least progressive, and a lacklustre film clip didn’t help sales at all. ‘One Of Us’ just scraped into the top 50, peaking at number 48.

In early 1982 the Reader’s Digest in association with RCA released a 5 LP box set, The Best of ABBA see The Best Of ABBA box cover. The set contained a wide selection of single and album tracks covering the years 1973 to 1980, as well as the non-LP B-sides ‘Crazy World’, ‘Lovelight’ and ‘Elaine’. As the album was compiled in the UK in early 1981 no songs from The Visitors were included. The set was available on record or cassette by mail order direct from Reader’s Digest only.

RCA decided to release the most obvious candidate for a single from The Visitors in March: ‘When All Is Said And Done’/‘Soldiers’. The first printing of the single cover read ‘When All Is Said Is Done ’ see the When All Is Said Is Done single cover. RCA almost put the single out in this cover, then finally decided to reprint the cover before release see the When All Is Said And Done single cover. Another single pairing unique to Australia. Unfortunately this excellent song was released as a single too late, and only reached number 81.

In April RCA belatedly released Gracias Por La Musica (Thank You For The Music) see the Gracias Por La Musica LP cover, a collection of 10 well-known ABBA songs with Spanish lyrics (including ‘Chiquitita’) originally released in Spanish speaking markets (and the UK and Japan) in 1980. RCA for whatever reason titled this album on the spine The Spanish Album, and the label listed the song titles in English only. Gracias did not come with the inner sleeve with complete lyrics as did overseas releases, and the printing of the cover left a lot to be desired. It is unclear just why RCA decided to released it at this late stage.

In August K-tel released The Magic Of ABBA, a compilation that had been released in the USA in 1980 see The Magic Of ABBA LP cover. The Australian version had four additional tracks, but many songs were edited (either by fading early or editing out the second verse and chorus repeats), and the album did not feature the US gatefold sleeve.

The end was nigh in December 1982 when RCA released the penultimate ABBA single, ‘The Day Before You Came’/‘Cassandra’ see The Day Before You Came single cover. For the first time since the ‘Dancing Queen’ single RCA did not print the classic ABBA logo on the label see The Day Before You Came single. This was their last single to enter the top 50, reaching only number 48. The A-side was featured on the next album, ABBA The Singles - The First Ten Years, a double album collection of the 23 major ABBA hits released worldwide during ABBA’s ten years together see the ABBA The Singles LP cover. The subtitle takes on a rather ironic air as this was the last album released while ABBA were still together. This album contained the first appearance of the 3.57 edited version of ‘The Name of the Game’, which has been included on every compilation since. The Singles was advertised quite heavily on TV, and made it into the top twenty albums, to number 18.

In January 1983 the last ABBA single was released. ‘Under Attack’ was included on The Singles, while the B-side ‘You Owe Me One’ became another track not included on an album. This was the last ABBA-related single to be released in RCA’s paper sheet and plastic bag-style sleeve. An unattractive picture sleeve see the Under Attack single cover and a lacklustre video helped the single bomb, sadly reaching only number 96.

GO ON TO AFTER ABBA

� 1997 by Ian Cole, Sydney Australia