ABBA: The Album is the fifth studio album by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was released in Scandinavia on 12 December 1977 through Polar Music, but due to the massive pre-orders the UK pressing plants were not able to press sufficient copies before Christmas 1977 and so it was not released in the UK until January 1978. The album was released in conjunction with ABBA: The Movie, with several of the songs featured in the film.
The album contained two UK number-one singles, "Take a Chance on Me" and "The Name of the Game", as well as European hits "Eagle" and "Thank You for the Music".
The album includes three songs from ABBA's 1977 tour mini-musical The Girl with the Golden Hair. These songs are "Thank You for the Music", "I Wonder (Departure)" and "I'm a Marionette". Altogether the album contained just nine songs—the least of any ABBA album, but were longer in length than previous albums (opening track "Eagle" runs to nearly six minutes).
ABBA: The Album reached No. 1 in many territories. In the UK it debuted at the top and remained there for seven weeks, ending up as the third biggest selling album of the year (behind the movie soundtrack LPs of Saturday Night Fever and Grease). In the US it became their highest charting album, where during 1978 ABBA undertook a big promotional campaign. Due to the Cold War, Western music was actively discouraged throughout Eastern Europe at the time. Despite this, ABBA: The Album sold an unprecedented one million copies in Poland in 1977, exhausting the country's entire allocation of foreign currency. In Russia, only 200,000 copies were permitted to be pressed; however, demand within the USSR indicated they could have sold 40 million copies.
ABBA: The Album was first released on CD in 1984. The album has been reissued in the format by PolyGram (later Universal Music) four times; first in 1997, then in 2001, in 2005 as part of The Complete Studio Recordings box set and again in 2007 as a two disc 'Deluxe Edition'.
Polar's official cover featured an entirely white background, and is the basis for current CD versions. However, Epic Records' original UK release of the LP featured a blue background on the front cover, fading to white at the bottom. It also featured a gatefold sleeve. The back cover was altered, incorporating a similar photo of ABBA to that used elsewhere in the world for the inner sleeve, and referencing tracks included in ABBA: The Movie. The inner gatefold was designed to look like an air mail envelope, similar to the style later used for Gracias Por La Música and even had a photo of ABBA incorporated into a stamp in the corner.
This was the first and only time that Epic radically broke away from the standard Polar Music design for an ABBA album. The UK design for ABBA: The Album has only been re-issued on CD format once, as part of a limited edition boxed set released by the Japanese arm of Universal Music in 2004.
Within the audio enthusiast community, The Album's original LP release is known for having been sourced from a poor quality master tape, that affects all four tracks on Side A. Symptoms include distortion on the higher-end of the frequency range, and a 'muddier' sound, particularly in the percussion. The single masters for "Eagle", "Take A Chance On Me", and "The Name Of The Game", are perceived not to have these defects, the first generation mixes for these tracks were used in Greatest Hits Vol. 2, while the 1990s compilations were remastered by Michael Tretow, the original recording engineer. They were also used for re-issues in 1997 and 2001, however these versions were criticised for Jon Astley's use of equalisation and noise reduction. Re-issues that used the 'faulty' LP cutting tapes include the West German PolyGram CD from 1984, and the Complete Studio Recordings box set, with tracks remastered by Henrik Jenssen. To date the sole use of the clean tapes since 2001 has been the 'Mastered For iTunes' 2014 issue, which reportedly lacks any distortion.
All tracks written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, except where noted.
The Album was remastered and reissued in 1997 with no bonus tracks, including the US Promo Edit of "The Name of the Game" on the first pressing, which was replaced on later pressings with the Original Version.
The Album was remastered and reissued in 2001 with one bonus track:"Thank You for the Music" (Doris Day version) (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 4:03
The Album was remastered and reissued again in 2005 as part of the The Complete Studio Recordings box set with following bonus tracks:"Al andar" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus, Buddy McCluskey, Mary McCluskey) – 4:43
Spanish version of "Move On".
"Gracias por la música" (Andersson, Ulvaeus, B. McCluskey, M. McCluskey) – 3:49
Spanish version of "Thank You for the Music".
Tracks 10–11, vocals recorded January 1980. These two songs are from the album Gracias Por La Música (Septima SRLM 1, 23 June 1980).
The Album was reissued again in 2007 (15 October) as a 30th Anniversary of the original release, called the 'Deluxe Edition'. This features the same track listing as the 2005 release along with four additional tracks:"Eagle" (single edit) – 4:25
"Take a Chance on Me" (Live version; alternate mix) – 4:25
Originally released as B-side of 1979 single "I Have a Dream"
"Thank You for the Music" (Doris Day version) – 4:03
"Al andar" – 4:43
"I Wonder (Departure)" (live version) – 4:27
Originally released as B-side of 1977 single "The Name of the Game"
"Gracias por la música" – 3:49
The 'Deluxe Edition' reissue also came along with a bonus DVD with the following clips:
- "Eagle"/"Thank You for the Music" (Star Parade, ZDF)
- "Take a Chance on Me" (Am Laufenden Band, Radio Bremen)
- "The Name of the Game" (ABBA Special, TBS)
- "Thank You for the Music" (Mike Yarwood's Christmas Show, BBC)
- "Take a Chance on Me" (Star Parade, ZDF)
- "ABBA on tour in 1977" (Rapport, SVT)
- "Recording ABBA – The Album" (Gomorron Sverige, SVT)
- "ABBA in London, February 1978" (Blue Peter, BBC)
- "ABBA in America, May 1978" (Rapport, SVT)
- "ABBA – The Album Television Commercial I" (UK)
- "ABBA – The Album Television Commercial II" (Australia)
- International Sleeve Gallery
The Album was reissued once again in 2008 as part of the The Albums box set but without any bonus tracks.
- "The Name of the Game"/"I Wonder" (live) (October 1977)
- "Take a Chance on Me"/"I'm a Marionette" (January 1978)
- "One Man, One Woman"/"Eagle" (Edited version) (1978, Taiwan)
- "Eagle" (single edit)/"Thank You for the Music" (May 1978)
- "Thank You for the Music"/"Eagle" (edited version) (1978, Chile)
- "Move On"/"Mamma Mia" (1978, Chile)
- "Thank You for the Music"/"Our Last Summer" (1983)
An early version of "Take a Chance on Me". A brief excerpt of the track was released in the box set Thank You for the Music."I Am an A"
A song written for the 1977 Tour with lyrics written by all four, jokingly depicting themselves as A, B, B and A. The song was never considered for a studio version, but parts of the chorus were later reused in "Free as a Bumblebee", and as that song never progressed beyond the demo, the chorus surfaced during the songwriting sessions for the stage musical Chess, as the UK number 1 hit single "I Know Him So Well"."Get On the Carousel"
Another song from the 1977 Tour, written for the mini-musical The Girl with the Golden Hair. The song was considered too weak to progress as a studio recording, but the chorus surfaced as a melody line in "Hole in Your Soul" (the part "...ahaa-, the songs you sing are too romantic..."). "Get On the Carousel" appears in ABBA: The Movie."Love for Me Is Love Forever"
An early version of "Move On"."Scaramouche"
A demo instrumental recorded during The Album sessions. Some parts surfaced in the recording sessions for Chess and resulted in a melody line in the track "Merano". A brief excerpt of this song was released in the box set Thank You for the Music as part of the ABBA Undeleted section.
According to The Official Charts Company, the album spent 39 consecutive weeks (and total weeks) in the top 40 from 4 February 1978 to 21 October 1978. It was also the first ABBA album to debut at number one.
Weekly chart positions from 4 February 1978 to 21 October 1978:
For the first 14 weeks the album charted along with Greatest Hits and Arrival. All three were in the top 15 at the start of March 1978.
Singles – UK
Singles – Norway
Singles – USA and Canada