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Rare ABBA album fetes 40 years of chart-toppers
LUDVIG Andersson is not doing a very good job of promoting his father's new record which he has just produced. "Personally, I don't like 'live' albums because I find them very contradictory - you are not actually there and it's all in the past," he explains before pausing slightly and chuckling lightly when he realises what he's just said over the phone from Sweden.
But when the band involved is one that has sold over 380 million albums and is called ABBA - comprising Andersson's father Benny, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad - surely an exception can be made. Besides, the now-defunct group's only 'live' album, ABBA Live (1986), has long gone out of print, so there's no better time to release a new one than on its 40th anniversary.
A 25-track double record culled from a historic 1979 performance, ABBA Live at Wembley Arena, was recorded on the last evening of a six-night residency at the famed concert venue. The quartet, which shot to fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, was at the height of its popularity and the show's audience included celebrity fans such as Ian Dury, The Clash's Joe Strummer, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Monty Python comedian John Cleese.
The younger Andersson reveals the show was picked over others recorded in Australia and Japan because of the superior audio quality and more importantly, it featured the track I'm Still Alive, performed by Faltskog and co-written with Ulvaeus, which has never been officially released till now. "My father says she writes really beautiful songs and she should do it more often; I don't think they know or can remember why she never did but it's a great song and it's new," says Andersson.
ABBA Live at Wembley Arena's release is also set to right everything that was wrong about ABBA Live, which Andersson reveals has been deleted by his father from the band's back catalogue. "They cheated on that one with a lot of overdubs," he explains. To keep the new record as authentic as possible, modern editing technology was used sparingly and almost none was required except to fix a tom-tom that was recorded on a broken microphone and sounded distorted whenever it was hit. "We replaced that with one from another show which sounded exactly the same; it was the only thing we were forced to do," admits Andersson, who has followed in his father's footsteps to become a musician himself.
He adds the process of choosing a "new" ABBA record to release was a difficult task because most fans already own everything so the real challenge was to find something new and interesting for them. "I think there are a lot of people out there who know more about ABBA than me or my dad; I've even met a guy who has a tattoo of my father on his chest in a Dutch fan club!" he says. The new 'live' album is also for those who never got a chance to experience ABBA fever - "I was born in 1982 and missed out on the whole thing!" - as the band stopped performing together in 1982. But anybody else craving more goodies down the road might be disappointed to learn ABBA Live at Wembley is set to be the band's final release.
"Nothing else is going to happen," confirms Andersson.
ABBA Live at Wembley is out now as on CD and vinyl. In addition, their back catalogue has been remastered for vinyl and iTunes