Having always been an ardent ABBA fan, you can imagine my excitement when I heard on the news the other day about the ABBA reunion.
Back in the 1970s when I was a teenage, I absolutely ADORED ABBA. I bought all their albums, every bit of ABBA paraphernalia I could lay my hands on, followed their activities religiously, and it seemed to all my family and friends that all I could talk about all the time was ABBA, ABBA, ABBA. And 1976 was especially ABBA year for me, as that was the year the group had three No. 1 singles in the UK charts: Mamma Mia, Fernando and Dancing Queen.
But it certainly didn’t bother me when I sometimes got a bit of stick for my ABBA devotion, because I just immutably loved EVERYTHING about the Swedish foursome, from their wonderfully catchy pop tunes to their stunning visual image (and don’t laugh, but yes, I DID like their glitteringly flamboyant stage costumes, so there!). Like most male ABBA fans, I thought Agnetha was just the most gorgeous blonde girl I had ever seen.
To this day, I still have so many wonderful ABBA memories, from the very first time I saw them when they won the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1974 with Waterloo, to their unforgettable TV specials like the Australian Best of ABBA show and ABBA In Switzerland. And who can forget their sensational debut on the big screen with ABBA The Movie in 1977? That film, as well as being extremely entertaining, certainly emphasised just how much Australia went mad for ABBA. Their immense popularity Down Under was so reminiscent of Beatlemania.
Of course, alongside all those wonderful ABBA memories, there are also the few bad ones, like when Agnetha and Bjorn got divorced in early 1979, which I just could not believe when I first heard of it on the news. Then of course Benny and Frida also got divorced two years later, which was the second shock, although admittedly not quite as shocking to me as the first divorce, which had suggested sharply that cracks were starting to appear in their relationships. These marital breakups utterly shattered the long-projected happy, carefree image of two married couples, who seemed to be so in love with each other as they performed onstage, and I don’t need to say how these divorces left millions of ABBA fans – including myself, of course – reeling with utter disbelief and shock.
We know that the group did continue to work together for a few years after the divorces, so there was no official Take That-style split. However, many fans still did get the feeling that the ABBA magic was, sadly, finally drawing to a close, and this fear was only reinforced when each of the four members started to go off and do their own things, be it making solo albums or writing stage musicals. Also, you only had to watch their video of The Day Before You Came to see the bitter reality of just how far they had drifted apart (I mean, in the early happy days of ABBA, did you ever once see Agnetha depicted as flirting with any other man than her husband Bjorn? Certainly with no stranger on a train, as was the scenario in the aforementioned video!).
And now, after all these years, it appears that ABBA are about to burst back onto the music scene with these two new recordings they have made. To be honest, I didn’t really envisage that this sort of thing would ever happen, given the times the group have been offered millions to reform but have repeatedly said no. So it will be really interesting to see how this musical comeback will fare in a downloading-dominated pop chart that has changed so much since the one we were used to way back in the 1970s, when ABBA records reigned supreme in the hit parade.
Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Annifrid, we await your sensational return to the music business with bated breath, excitement and delight. It will be just fantastic to hear you all performing together again, in the studio, on record and – who knows? – perhaps even onstage, after nearly four decades of absence. It’s the best news that all ABBA fans have heard in a long time. Oh yes, we have all missed you.
Welcome back, ABBA.
By Alan Toner