ABBA, by ABBA
In listening to the first new music by ABBA in some time yesterday, I thought it would be worthwhile to see if ABBA could meet the 5 album rule, where one tests bands to see whether or not they have five straight albums that can be considered 8/10 or not. I have started this test of some of the other bands that I like–it is a hard standard to meet, and some bands come close but not quite according to the standards of various people. In thinking about it, though, I realized that while I was familiar with a great many ABBA songs, I did not know ABBA’s album work as a whole, and thought it would be worthwhile to test whether or not ABBA could conceivably meet the 5 album rule, starting at random with their self-titled album from 1975 which came towards the earlier part of their career.
In calculating whether the album meets an 8/10 test, it is worthwhile to consider a few factors. What songs were/are most popular for this album, and do they hold up well as enjoyable and worthwhile songs. Are there any songs on the album that aren’t as popular but are still worthy of more attention and more appreciation? What is the general level of enjoyment for even the album filler that remains after the first two categories? Is it at least enjoyable enough, or are there any bad songs that sink one’s enjoyment of the album as a whole, or a lot of filler that is of pretty poor quality overall? How does ABBA fare under this test?
As it happens, this album is pretty much right along the line of what I would expect an 8/10 album. Three of the songs from this album stand out as being particularly popular: “Mamma Mia,” “SOS,” and “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.” All three of these songs hold up pretty well, even if “SOS” is my favorite of the lot. There are certainly some lesser known songs here that deserve to be better recognized. “I’ve Been Waiting For You,” is a favorite ABBA song of their deep cuts, and “Man In The Middle” and the gorgeous instrumental “Intermezzo No. 1” are both excellent songs as well that deserve to be better appreciated as well. This can also be said of the medley of folk songs that closes the album, which is well done but quite a departure from what one would expect of ABBA. With the top two categories of songs, we have more than half of the album which is either worthwhile hits or standout album cuts, and the rest of the album is made up of pleasant album tracks like “Hey, Hey Helen,” “Tropical Loveland,” “Rock Me,” “Bang-A-Boomerang,” “So Long,” and “Crazy World.” If these songs are not stellar, they are enjoyable enough material to listen to, and make this album a solid 4/5 or 8/10 as a whole, and one that is far more stylistically diverse than most people would expect going into it.