If I say Abba, you say Dancing Queen am I right? I’m going out on a limb here when I suggest you’ve never heard these following 5 songs (and I’ll explain in a minute why you should) but there is more to Abba than 3 middle-aged women belting out Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! on a Greek island. The musical is feel-good fun, don’t get me wrong, but there’s so much more!! Left out of the countless compilation albums and greatest hits collections are some real gems, the “album tracks” that were never released as singles. I could’ve frankly just listed every single Abba record ever put on vinyl, but went through the entire back catalogue (not a mammoth task, they only ever released 8 albums and I know them all by heart anyway…lol) but chose these 5 tracks as my “unknown” favourites. To me these always were, and still remain, some of the best songs ever written. Ever is a big word… but it’s also timeless.
GONNA SING YOU MY LOVE SONG/WATERLOO 1974
This is a song I never appreciated as a child, I always skipped it in favour for the poppier and more upbeat songs on “Waterloo” but it’s haunting vocal by Frida and touchingly melancholic melody is a masterpiece to me now.
EAGLE/ THE ALBUM 1977
Can a song sound weightless? I don’t know but from the beginning the song is gliding in the bright blue skies. The opening chords are like rising up on wings and the lyric “They came flying from far away, now I’m under their spell” sets the scene for something mysterious and eternal.
IF IT WASN’T FOR THE NIGHTS/ VOULEZ VOUS 1978
This was meant to be the lead single from Voulez-Vous (Abba’s “disco” album) but was pushed aside for the much blander and somewhat annoying (in my opinion) Chiquitita, but this is classic, pure and absolute Abba. It’s upbeat and happy with harmonies out of this world. Only Abba can make break-up sound this… joyous.
THE VISITORS (CRACKIN’ UP)/ THE VISITORS 1981
The Visitors is also the name of Abba’s last album, and although we didn’t know it then, life was changing for both of us. I was a teenager and started (naturally) pulling away from my childhood obsessions whilst Abba was struggling with its own internal turmoil, with divorces and whatnot.. after The Visitors they went on a break which became a permanent one. The title track is so out of character for Abba, it’s paranoid and anxiety ridden cry of help with a fabulously infectious chorus that lifts up from the otherwise quite menacing atmosphere. Strange. (In a good way.)
I LET THE MUSIC SPEAK/ THE VISITORS 1981
This to me has always sounded like it should be part of a musical. The most beautiful Abba lyric in my opinion, it sounds almost poetic with beautiful lines like “I’m hearing images, I’m seeing songs no poet has ever painted”. And if you listen to the words, it is a message of the power of music, the music which has said it all in the past, and which will in the end be the saviour of us all. A beautiful farewell and a legacy in 5 minutes and 20 seconds.