The Second Disc

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Archive for July 3rd, 2013

Ring Ring! ABBA’s Debut Album Gets the CD/DVD Treatment This Fall

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Ring Ring DeluxeIt’s been four decades since Agnetha Fälksog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad came together to change the face of pop music. This fall, the first album by the group the world now knows as ABBA is getting an expanded CD/DVD treatment – and those who are interested as to how the quartet came together will have a lot of bonus tracks to discover and enjoy.

When the single “People Need Love” was released in 1972, it was intended as a one-off collaboration between three successful Swedish pop entities: female singers Fälksog and Lyngstad and songwriting/producing duo Ulvaeus and Andersson. The single was credited to the rather unmarketable “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid,” with no intentions of further capitalizing on the partnership. But the success of the song – a Top 20 hit in their native country – led to an album’s worth of sessions, released throughout parts of Europe as Ring Ring. The title track, a Swedish chart-topper, was a sensation in several languages, including German, Spanish and English (with lyrics penned by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody). When the group reconvened for their second album Waterloo – the title track of which was a worldwide smash and the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest for 1974 – they were, once and for all, a group named ABBA.

The deluxe CD/DVD edition of Ring Ring – the final ABBA album to get this expanded treatment – features no less than 13 bonus tracks, including foreign language versions, non-LP B-sides and even a rare promo-only spoken-word recording. But the real treats are six pre-ABBA recordings featuring the future line-up of the band. Björn & Benny’s “Hej gamle man!” from their album Lycka features backing vocals from Agnetha and Frida. Billy G-son’s non-LP single “There’s a Little Man” b/w “I Saw It in the Mirror” were written and produced by the Andersson-Ulvaeus duo that fueled a decade of ABBA hits, and the quartet also added their magic to singles by Anni-Frid and pop singer Lill-Babs – all of which feature here. The DVD rounds out the action with two vintage TV performances and a Swedish news feature from last year in which Andersson uncovers the secrets behind ABBA’s production techniques direct from the original multitrack masters of “Ring Ring.”

The deluxe Ring Ring will hit stores October 14. Keep an eye out for pre-order links when they’re available, and check out the full track list after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 3, 2013 at 14:25

Posted in ABBA, News, Reissues

Review: Big Star, “Nothing Can Hurt Me: Original Soundtrack”

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Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt MeThe feature-length documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me opens today at New York’s IFC Center and on Friday at Los Angeles’ Nuart Theatre.  In conjunction with its release, Omnivore Recordings has recently unveiled a soundtrack album collecting 21 previously unissued songs from the legendary Memphis band.

Rare is the cult band that actually lives up to its legend.  Yet, with each listen – time after time, year after year – Big Star not only meets the hype, but surpasses it.  Chances are, if you know the music of Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens, you remember the first time you heard it.  You likely also remember the friend who first introduced you to the band, or how he or she told you about this great discovery with the hush-hush nature of a secret told in the deepest confidence.  Though the group is today spoken of with reverence in certain circles, no commercial breakthrough ever allowed the band to make its name a reality.  (In fact, the name Big Star derived from a supermarket!)  Frontman Alex Chilton’s closest turn as a “big star” came in his youth, as he led The Box Tops through a series of hits including “The Letter” and “Cry Like a Baby.”  So, beyond the “cult” tag and the mystique, why are we still talking about Big Star, a band whose reputation is entirely based on three albums from 1972-1978 that almost nobody heard?  The ample proof can be heard on Omnivore Recordings’ new release entitled Nothing Can Hurt Me.  The 21-track anthology is, in actuality, the Original Soundtrack to Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori’s new documentary, but it’s also a concise and potent introduction to the band’s unforgettable music.

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Written by Joe Marchese

July 3, 2013 at 10:49