Album: ABBA – “Waterloo” (1974)

On to Swedish supergroup ABBA’s second album, a hastily-compiled affair released to coincide with the group’s now pivotal triumph at the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s a shame that such a moment of glory for the group didn’t reflect so much on the album, but it was a stepping stone, and better things were to come.

(originally written February 2011)

(really don’t think that sticker was meant to be the focal point of this cover, do you?)

10 Waterloo – Well not much you can say about this, one of the BIGGIES. I’m not going to say anything controversial, this is glorious of course. Am I imagining it or has this not quite taken its place in the pantheon of ABBA hits, aside from its obvious significance in their history? Many a naff wedding dance have sided more with Mamma Mia or Dancing Queen I think. I love the strange comparison of a relationship to a military defeat in Belgium, I love the piano-bashing bridge, I love the harmonies, just fantastic.

07 Sitting in the palmtree – OK I should cut the lyrical content a bit of slack after the above bizarre metaphor, but I mean WTF? Iffy reggae about a man sitting in a tree, not QUITE in the same league. I don’t really know what this is about, it’s slow and makes me fidget. Is he singing about a lady called Jeannie, or about a Genie? Can you even sit on the top of a palmtree? I didn’t even think they had branches. It’s quite nice in a restful sort of way, the middle-8 is quite lovely, but I mean they really need to BRING IT for the rest of this album.

07 King Kong Song – Is there a MONKEY theme? I’m not so into the rocky stuff, so this Elton-esque 70s blowout isn’t really for me. WTF time again, a rather manic rock’n’roll number literally about King Kong. It’s quite nice and throwaway, but this is NOT the ABBA I was looking for. Bonus points for the SHRIEK.

07 Hasta Manana – OK female vocals, good start. Sounds like a nice classic track, the name vaguely rings a bell. However it doesn’t really come to much, just feels like a not-as-good version of some of their bigger mid-tempo hits (No I can’t think of one in particular). Again fine, but this is the third in a row of ‘fine’ songs. Spoken word bit aside, I’m really losing interest. Nothing bad so far, but nothing I want to particularly revisit.

06 My mama said – I like the intro, reminds me of something from the first album, strange tone to it. Is that the chorus? Barely out of the traps and there’s a rather voxless refrain, it’s memorable but in a weird way, like how you would half-remember a pigeon flying into your windscreen. Some of the rhymes I’m sure inspired a young Des’ree, who knew “said” would rhyme so well with bed, bread, Fred etc? … meh

07 Dance (While the music still goes on)
– LOVE this intro, reminds me of Kate Bush (though I guess that would be the other way around given the dates). But it bursts into a totally different song. Rather melancholy track, saying goodbye but putting a brave face one etc. Feels more like a group than a bunch of solos like some of the other tracks so far have. Doesn’t POP my cork but it’s quite nice.

09 Honey Honey – I hate to mention the Mamma Mia movie, but that was the first time I’d really heard this and I loved it. The original doesn’t have the modern polish obviously, but it’s sweet as hell. That surf-rock “wa-wa-wa-wahooo” accompaniment is just delightful. Not quite got the PIZAZZ that the title track does, but it’s really a wonderful discovery.

07 Watch out – LOVE that intro, has the makings of a great riff (or some other ‘real music’ slang). Shame the chorus is such a horrific DIN, Watch oooouuuutttt *ears split*. Part of me does like it, but that chorus really is horrible. I’m so tired of all these DUDS on this album, it’s depressing.

05 What about Livingstone – WTF time is upon us once more. What about Livingstone? Seriously? What the fuck are they singing about? Did they get inspiration for this album from the Dorling Kindersley Childrens Book of History? I get the gist, they are singing about pioneers etc, but … literally. I just can’t quite understand why. PAINFUL.

08 Gonna sing you my lovesong – A nice straightforward ballad now, phew. Lovely vocals at the start, and while the chorus harmonies clash a little, it’s a sweet song. Then the strings come in *melts*, love how it all builds up during the song and doesn’t really go too OTT. That synthy flourish during the last chorus is a nice touch too. FINALLY GOOD STUFF.

08 Suzy-hang-around – Poor bitch. LOVE the instrumentation though, gorgeous. They don’t mince their words do they? I worry that I’m a Suzy sometimes, so I can RELATE. Though this seems to be another one of those odd songs where they are singing as if they are 8 years old. Still, no worse than singing about explorers and giant monkeys. OK not the catchiest song in the world, I doubt this has troubled too many karaoke parties to date, but it’s better than MOST of the songs on this rather turgid album.

As you could probably GATHER, I didn’t really get on with Waterloo. Definitely an album just worth picking the keepers and ditching the rest. I guess the real pop magic hadn’t quite kicked in, and the title track (possible Honey Honey too) was fitted on to what was never meant to be a big pop album. Obviously it didn’t really do much for me, so I’m just biding my time for the big hitters. It’s soon, right?

Keepers for the iPod: Waterloo, Honey Honey, Gonna sing you my lovesong.

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