“The Album” by ABBA - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1977Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Sweden got the scoop just in time for Christmas '77, but the rest of the world had to wait patiently until the new year to get their hands on the new ABBA LP. This was of considerable disappointment to the fan whose appetite was wetted by the album's lead single, “The Name Of The Game”, which sat at #1 in the UK Pop Charts all throughout November. And what a song it was, coolness personified, ABBA's very best in my opinion. There's an understated dynamism to the piece, built on a bass-heavy bed that was rooted in a slow-tempo interpretation of Stevie Wonder's “I Wish” from '76; the great harmonies and unusual chord progressions seal the musical deal. The group's ever-inventive masterminds were always pushing new ideas about, and this one was written especially for “ABBA: The Movie”, a documentary film project that was under construction at the same time as “The Album”. Specifically, “The Name Of The Game” was for a dream sequence which featured Agnetha opening up to her psychiatrist. Mind games are at the heart of the lyrics; can she trust the guy? “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 cared for you”. What a stimulus-maximus groove. Also on side one is the super-catchy follow-up single, “Take A Chance On Me”, which continued the dazzling form, and was well rewarded with a seventh #1 for the group in the UK Pop Charts.

A feature of ABBA's world tour of '77 was to present a mini-musical “The Girl With The Golden Hair”, as a bonus feature of the show, which, as Wikipedia tells, was “a 25-minute opus with a storyline about a talented small-town girl leaving her hometown on her quest for stardom, with each song representing a different part of her personality.” Kinda reflecting the tour, the album finishes with 4 of the songs which had featured; “Hole In Your Soul” (actually a reworking of “Get On Your Carousel” which was in the stage performance), “Thank You For The Music” (which would develop a life of its own as a single 6 years later), “I Wonder (Departure)” and “I’m A Marionette”. The latter closed the album on a creative high, with a darkness in the strings and lyrics which accentuates the dramatic Kurt-Weil-esque chorus: “I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string, I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing, I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, round and round, I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown”. I do like to see a group take a chance, take a chance tikka-tikka chance-chance. More of that would have been good.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [05:47] 4.8.png ABBA - Eagle (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus) Pop
A2 [04:03] 8.4.png ABBA - Take A Chance On Me (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus) Pop
A3 [04:31] 3.9.png ABBA - One Man, One Woman (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus) Pop Ballad
A4 [04:51] 9.2.png ABBA - The Name Of The Game (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson) Pop
B1 [04:41] 3.5.png ABBA - Move On (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson) Pop
B2 [03:39] 3.1.png ABBA - Hole In Your Soul (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus) Pop
B3 [03:49] 2.9.png ABBA - Thank You For The Music (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus) Pop Ballad
B4 [04:32] 2.2.png ABBA - I Wonder (Departure) (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson) Crooner / Cabaret
B5 [04:03] 6.0.png ABBA - I’m A Marionette (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus) Crooner / Cabaret

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