As a number of our readers are no doubt already aware, there's another writer here who calls himself The Discographer. This regular BC columnist has in fact carved out a rather nice little niche for himself by taking the complete catalogs of certain artists, and reviewing each individual album in chronological order.
It's a rather unique idea in a forum like this one, and one I'm quite surprised it hasn't been thought of a whole lot sooner. Our "Discographer" actually does a pretty decent job of it too, breaking the albums down in an informative manner that's very easy to read in a wikipedia sort of way. So far, he's covered the Beach Boys, Elvis, the Stones, and Hendrix. Right now, he's concentrating on The Band.
What may surprise some of you is the fact that if I were to take on such a project, my first choices wouldn't be the Springsteens or Neil Youngs of the world as you might expect, but would probably be someone more like ABBA. Because in my mind at least, they are every bit as worthy of the treatment.
Although ABBA are most often nostalgically associated with the disco boom of the seventies, the fact is that this just doesn't tell the whole story, and really sells them quite short. ABBA made some of the most perfectly constructed, hook-laden pop tunes of that era — or for that matter any other — and it's high time they were recognized as the great tune-smiths they really were. They have also been a not so guilty pleasure of my own for a very long time.
Getting back to that "discographer" sort of concept though, in ABBA's case breaking down the entire catalog just wouldn't be necessary. You can get everything you'd ever want or need by simply purchasing the Gold: Greatest Hits collection.
During the seventies, ABBA racked up a string of hits that by any mark is simply astonishing, and as you might expect there are numerous hits collections out there to choose from. But with Gold, you really get the pick of the litter. As in 19 of the group's most classic hits, from the songs that earned them that disco tag like "Dancing Queen," to earlier pop gems like "S.O.S." and "Waterloo," to the erotic subtlety (nobody breathes a song as seductively as Frida) of "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "Take A Chance On Me."
Nearly all of the ABBA songs that really matter can be found on this goldmine of a disc. It's one of the few I've ever heard that actually lives up to the name Gold. Throw in the second volume of More ABBA Gold, with its earlier Phil Spector influenced songs like "Honey Honey" and "Ring Ring," and you've really got every great ABBA song you'd ever need.
In fact, with all the current nostalgic hoopla over Mamma Mia, isn't it time you took a chance on ABBA?