Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Abba - a shameless attempt to drive up traffic

This post is born out of a few things I suppose.

Firstly, last week Mrs. 17 Seconds and I and our good friend 'Diamond' Dave went to see Mamma Mia! at the cinema. Resistance, as even Philip French of the Observer had warned, was inded futile. It was fun. Sure it wasn't Citizen Kane or Withnail and I, they'd crowbarred songs in at every opportunity and I can sing far better than Pierce Brosnan, but it was a laugh. Diamond and I were the only blokes in a very packed cinema. Say what you like about stereotypes, pigeonholes and generalisations, but remember that they may well be born out of demographics.

I mentioned this to two friends I met up with in Edinburgh yesterday, one of whom is a massive fan. I asked what he thought of Mamma Mia!, to which he replied that he didn't think there'd been many good cover versions of Abba songs over the years and couldn't face it. I know they have been massacred at way too many karaoke bars over the years, but there have been a few. I've selected two, one by Ash and Scotland's very own Camera Obscura, and two great Abba songs: one which is in the film 'The Winner Takes It All' my favourite Abba song, and 'The Visitors.' 'The Visitors' was the title track of what would be their final studio LP, and deals with the treatment of dissidents in the then Soviet Union.

If there are any people sad enough to worry about liking Abba, I would make these points:
1. John Peel narrated a documentary and was a fan.
2. So was Kurt Cobain, who agreed to play Reading in 1992 because Bjorn Again were, and recorded Nevermind in a studios because it was a seventies sort of studio that Abba would have used.
3. 'The Winner Takes It All' and quite a few other songs are just as sad as Joy Division.
4. they were brilliant. period. Sod the claims about camp, kitsch blah blah sodding blah, they made great music. Like Sonic Youth, the Clash, Public Enemy etc..

Abba -'The Winner Takes It All.' mp3

Abba -'The Visitors.' mp3

And those covers...

Camera Obscura -'Super Trouper.' mp3

Ash -'Does your Mother Know? (session).' mp3


Simon said...

The day I left behind my old ideas of cool and musical tastes was a great day; I still think certain things are crap, but it's because I think they're crap not because I'm worried about being seen to like them.

Nothing wrong with ABBA, absolutely nothing at all. Those records shine with pop goodness; and like the very best dance records they're sadder than sad. Even the happy ones!

entrailicus said...

We'll know who to blame when they top the all new '76 Festive 50.

I consider myself a huge fan.

At least half of the Sex Pistols were also huge admirers.

david said...

Seem to have lost a couple of posts Ed. Never mind, cheers as always, for The Shoppies post.

ABBA were fun all right, but the CO version of Super Trouper shows just what a brilliant song it is. Love to hear them have a go at more ABBA material.

Anonymous said...

grrrr, hate abba, hate the whole handbag dancing drunken muppet scene that goes with it, every new years eve a friend of ours puts abba on after the third bottle of wine and insists everyone dance, this is hell, i have to run away and smoke outside(usually with other disgruntled males)until she's passed out, they are awful, i hate them all, bomb sweden, i would rather eat my own feet than go and see that film. rant over, i'm back, how are things, virgin internet is shite

Ed said...

Simon - indeed; cool is subjective, and thus, overrated.

Entrailicus - we can vote for Abba?! now it gets even harder. Am still trying to make up my mind what three tracks to choose...

David -sorry you have lost tracks, any idea what dates are missing? Glad you liked Camera obscura cover.

A.J. - Can't make everyone happy, i guess!! But yeah, drunken muppet dancing is never fun...if you're me a teetotal, that is...

Huge Grunt said...

Did my previous comment not get approved??

Ed said...

Huge - haven't deleted any comments of yours. sometimes things seem not to go through. Try again...


Huge Grunt said...

All I said was that Abba are or were fantastic, the first album I ever bought was the 1975 Greatest Hits. When punk came along I ended up destroying it coz punks don't like Abba, how naive ;) Of course they did have some dodgy moments as well.

Ed said...

Dodgy moments?!?! Abba?! Hell yeah, 'Thank You for the music' is trite 'I'm a marionette' annoying, and 'I have a dream' perhaps second only to John Lennon's Imagine for millionaire idealism. (Watch the hate mail pour in)

Funnily enough the punks loved Abba, and Elvis Costello admitted that Steve Nieve's piano part on Oliver's Army, which totally transformed the song
was influenced by Dancing Queen. (Cue another rant from some reader about how Elvis Costello wasn't punk blah blah blah...)

Darren said...

Can't believe that people in this day and age are still reluctant to admit the brilliance that was Abba.

Was Erasure's Abba-esque wars fought for nothing?