It may not have escaped your notice, but Abba were back in the news this week, announcing plans for a “new and virtual live [Abba] experience“. It’s not, as some people overexcitedly thought, a reunion concert, but nonetheless it sounds a great concept! Abba remain by far the most famous, enduring and commercially successful act to have emerged from Eurovision, so with the news earlier this week, what better to finish a Friday than a spot of Abba!
Like many gay men, Abba are my favourite pop group of all time. I remember from when I was a small child, I used to listen to parents’ Abba “Greatest Hits” album and dance to the music. 30+ years on and I still love listening (and dancing to Abba) but rather than wheel out all the famous ones, here is a top 5 (not a definitive top 5) of my favourite not-so-famous Abba tracks. Most of these weren’t released as singles (in the UK anyway) or were smaller-scale hits.
I first heard this sung by Barbara Dickson on one of her albums (an album belonging to my mum) and I recognised the two songwriters of course, a certain B. Andersson and B. Ulvaeus. Of course, it was an Abba track! Taken from their 1981 The Visitors album, it’s a dark, mysterious song, with metaphorical lyrics hinting to an impending nuclear conflict. Still relevant today…
“Eagle” was the first track on their fifth album, Abba: The Album, and partly written as a tribute to a band that Benny and Bjorn admired, The Eagles. The music video video below (used for Abba: The Movie) is noteworthy in that, like many Abba videos, it was quite pioneering in its use of special effects in a music video (they might not look as amazing today but this was over 4o years ago!). A great soaring song.
3. “The Visitors”
The title track from the album of the same name (and second track from that album on this list), it’s another darker, mysterious song from Abba. Although not stated explicitly at the time of its release, the theme behind this is of the mistreatment of political dissidents, and the fear of being watched by a powerful state. Again, those themes, still resonate today, 40 years on…
2. “The Day Before You Came”
This was their final song recording, and their penultimate song released as a single. Critics have called it a “forgotten masterpiece”, their “darkest song”, and “their last…and best song”.
1. “I’m a Marionette”
I wonder how well this one is known? But it’s a hidden gem I think. Another track from Abba: The Album, it was the B-side to “Take a Chance on Me” and was used as part of a mini-musical called The Girl with the Golden Hair that ABBA performed at several of their live concerts. The video below is taken from one of those live concerts and shown within Abba: The Movie (hence the glimpse of a bit of the acted bit of the film in first two seconds!).
What are your favourite more obscure Abba songs? Leave a comment below!