Sunday 26 March 2023

ABBA: The Official Photo Book - Jan Gradvall et al. (2014)


Rating: Excellent

"Anybody could be that guy...", and indeed, I became that guy who wasn't a fan of ABBA and then suddenly became one. About five years ago a friend's partner posted a video of the band on Japanese television from the late seventies performing If it wasn't for the Nights (1979), and for some reason, even though I did like some of their well known singles, it was this track that caused me to start listening to them more seriously, and then I was hooked. It's often the case with me that I fully explore an act's discography, purchasing all of their albums and obsessing over rare songs and all the different phases. I picked up this book very cheaply at a Dymocks pop-up store for something like $20. It's an extremely good quality coffee-table book, with thick glossy paper and a stylish layout coupled with quality photographs. ABBA wrote the forward, talking about how they loved the time they had in the band and that many of the photo's they hadn't seen before. As with everything ABBA, it's very heartfelt.

Fun in Sweden!

The band's history is laid out chronologically, from before they became ABBA, all their albums and tours and then the aftermath of the beginning of their hiatus in 1982. Due to the date of publication it does not include the totally unexpected comeback album and virtual live show of recent years. The text is relatively minimal, but is well written and contains many anecdotes and obscure facts about the band and their work. Where the book really shines is with the hundreds of fantastic photos, many of which show them in their homes and behind the scenes. If you are an ABBA fan then this book is essential just for the photographs alone (600 of them!). Looking at the photos I'm reminded of something that occurred to me as I explored their particular brand of pop music, that they didn't care at all about being cool. They were totally themselves and sometimes they looked right on, and other times they looked completely daggy. A similar thing can be said about their music, but the daggy songs are just as good as the exulted ones, simply because they were being ABBA. That's what this book is, totally ABBA.

Early on

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