WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
My principal aim was to ensure
ABBA’s musical credentials were given the attention they
deserve, and to rekindle and restore that one-time euphoria
we’ve all experienced at some point in our years of fandom.
(Something that has waned considerably for some, tarnished
in part by years of overkill from the formula-based tribute
army, and the hours and column-centimetres of ‘expert’
commentary from the music industry media and others.)
Remember that sense of wonder
and elation when you heard an ABBA song for the very first
Remember when that song
massaged your emotional nerve centre in the most
I wanted to redefine the
public perception of ABBA. Knowing full well I faced an
uphill battle against the hype, the glam, the image and the
wider (mis-)perceptions of their music only made me more
determined to see it through. I accept the fact that
‘pop-kitsch’ sells records, but surely the doubters must
concede that ABBA’s staying power is a force worthy of
exploration beyond the “simple unpretentious melodies” theme
served up by journalists.
I wanted all my fellow fans (and also any detractors!) to be
intrigued by such things as:
- the concept that “The
Winner Takes It All” and “Super Trouper” have a chordal
musical progression in common.
- that Frida could sing as
high as Agnetha in falsetto register and did so with
style – as upper harmony vocalist – on several ABBA
- that Benny and Bjorn
re-used good melodic hooks often during the ABBA years
(as a teaser, hum the opening verse bars of “Dum Dum
Diddle” and “The Way Old Friends Do”).
- that identical melodic
verse phrases reappear in the choruses of some songs.
that the importance of “the power of three” (do-re-mi)
was a pivotal force in the construction of ABBA’s
- that some songs fell a
little short of the ABBA blueprint for success, and
musical insights given as to why.
- that “The Winner Takes
It All” is the quintessential example of ‘musical
economy’ … and that “The Visitors” is not far behind it.
- that B-sides and
cast-asides like “Crazy World”, “Put On Your White
Sombrero” and “Just Like That” deserve their moments in
the sun, excerpts from each appearing in print for the
very first time!
I’ve had a fabulous time
delving into the archives to discuss my insights into what
makes us feel the way we do about ABBA. When a grinning
Björn said, “Why us? Why me?” for the umpteenth time on that
2001 BBC TV documentary series “Walk On By - The Story Of
Popular Song”, a spark within me ignited. Four years later,
I set out to give the oldest member of ABBA some answers.
It’s been a heaven-sent task to examine, in a relaxed and
non-academic way, what ABBA did to create music that
continues to endear.
And to think my book will be
unveiled to the world in the same month as the
burst-of-adrenalin release of “Mamma Mia! The Movie” on DVD,
which is sure to give those of us who enjoyed the film a
chance to relive the buzz of the first viewing on the silver
screen. What a happy coincidence. Like everything though in
life, nothing good lasts forever. Regardless of outcome, I
draw much pride and a sense of closure now that the book has
The fact that my production
editor (an old school mate who’s got only the ARRIVAL album
and a couple of singles in his vinyl collection) rang me one
evening, compelled to seek out not just a compilation, but
at the very least a box set, made me realise I’d struck the
As the blurb on my book’s
back cover says, “… don’t we all have an ABBA album
somewhere which we would like to enjoy rediscovering?”