Friday, 22 January 2016

7 inch single collection: ABBA - Under Attack

Scandinavia's most famous musical export...


A-Side: Under Attack
AA-Side: You Owe Me One
(Epic 1982)      

The thing that I like most about ABBA is the fact that made up the band name from their initials - that's the kind of creativity I like. Their music on the other hand has always left me a bit cold - not really my kind of thing. It's odd how ABBA's reputation has changed over the years - they were in their hey day a highly popular, but ultimately throwaway pop act, not serious music listening at all. Then in the mid-80's this began to change, people who didn't seem the sort to like ABBA began to take their music very seriously, at first it seemed like an ironic enjoyment, but now they appear to be highly regarded in the critical world. I suppose it takes time from initial impact to see the kind of lasting effect that some bands have - it seems that ABBA had the right skills and talents to ensure that they created a sound that would last, and remain unique and distinctive. Still doesn't mean that I like them that much...

This double a-sider is late period ABBA neither song being amongst their most remembered. Thus from a time when the camp and glamour were fading and things were getting grayer, and seemingly interpersonal relationships were eating away at the group.This manifests itself in Under Attack it's oddly low key on the verses, and whilst it's got a disco feel it's not the high energy sound tat you might expect. There's a building up through the verses into the climax of the song, with some odd vocoder style voices at points. It's a song that has all the characteristic hallmarks of the ABBA sound, but without hooks or the strident upbeat sound that you'd normally think of.

You Owe Me One has a bit more of a generic pop feel to it - particularly the clean bright sounding pop that typically comes out of Scandinavia. The verses have a nursery rhyme feel to them. It's almost entirely unremarkable - that alone would be remarkable for ABBA, however there is is slight twist to the instrumentation, there is an exotic, almost eastern groove teasing in the background of the song. That almost makes it worth listening to.

A bit of a low-key and largely unmemorable record for me.

Next time we head out west into Americana territory...

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