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Abba Review

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by Casimir Harlow Oct 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    Abba Review
    Abba are Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog (for those who are not fans, their name spawns from the first name initials of the members). Formed in the Seventies, this Swedish group populated the charts for the best part of a decade with their numerous hits - and they still capture the hearts of new generations to this day. Few will fail to remember Waterloo, or Mamma Mia (now best known as the title of the Abba musical) or, of course, the seminal Dancing Queen. Popular at school parties, Seventies' night at the Student Union and even most work Christmas parties (that is, if you're lucky enough to get a DJ). I also suspect that at least one track would make it to most Hen party wish lists. Abba are a global phenomenon whose songs rank (perhaps not in terms of depth, but certainly in terms of catchiness and popularity) alongside those of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones.

    Abba - The Movie follows their 1997 2-week 11-concert sell-out tour in Australia. Rather than just intersplice footage of them performing various tracks at these concerts with off-stage interviews and behind the scenes clips, the production studio opted to try and make this into a proper film, with a proper story about an Australian journalist dispatched to cover the tour and interview the group. The trouble is, it still ended up being basically just a series of concert songs broken up by behind the scenes footage - with the forced and contrived movie 'storyline' inappropriately trying to make the production into more than it is (and more than it needs to be).

    Abba do not require a contrived story to make their exploits engaging - with such a huge global fan base, all we need from them is some interview snippets and, of course, the music itself. Luckily, despite all attempts to mould this production into what it is not, the end result still provides everything fans would like from the group. So, we come to the music itself, kicking off with Tiger, we get SOS, Money, Money, Money, the feel-good When I Kissed the Teacher, all of the hits I've already mentioned as being amongst their most memorable (Waterloo etc.) and a bunch of tracks I've never even heard of (including a few filler instrumentals), culminating - of course - with their Thank You For The Music. Few of the songs are played in their entirety (despite the fact that the tracks seldom last more than a couple of minutes) and I suspect that fans would have preferred the full, unadulterated music as opposed to endless bits following the journalist desperately trying to get his all-important interview (which is merely a story gimmick anyway) but nobody who likes the band is going to be disappointed with this production - it certainly captures the essence of Abbamania, showing you why this group still live on in many hearts even to this day.