ABBA – The Album

The second in a series of random musings about my record collection — in alphabetical order, so far, but who knows what the future brings.

Not too surprising that the next album in my collection, following “Arrival,” is ABBA’s “The Album.” This came out at the very end of 1977, and, like “Arrival,” I’ve had this copy since it came out. Again, I would guess that I bought this at the old Two Guys Department Store in downtown Schenectady, which was something of a hangout at times, being conveniently close to the city library. (It was also where I bought my first real camera, a Mamiya-Sekor DSX1000, on layaway, putting some chunk of my $40 weekly pay from 20 hours of work at a neighborhood butcher shop/grocery store on account every week until I was able to call it mine, right around the time “The Album” came out, as I recall.)

ABBA The Album Front Cover

If “The Album” was less of a hit collection than “Arrival” had been, it didn’t mean I played it any less. At the time, I loved the odd audacity of including several songs from what was called a mini-musical, “The Girl with the Golden Hair,” which were presented without much by way of context or hope that they would work as singles. I thought that passed for art at the time, and to some extent it did, one of the biggest acts in the world deciding to take a few chances. For hit singles, it only produced “The Name of the Game” and “Take A Chance on Me,” but the inclusion of the mini-musical numbers made it feel like more of an intentional album than just a collection of songs, at the time.

Looking at the cover now, it fits the somewhat theatrical approach of the album. I liked the design then, and still do, and although the attempt to have a graphic representation of each of the songs could seem somewhat labored, the design holds together. I always appreciated an album with a picture sleeve and a lyrics sheet (although there were definitely artists that needed it more than ABBA did).

In my senior year of high school, I was still living in a Top 40 world — AM radio influenced everything I listened to, and everything my friends listened to. For us, it was a year of “Rumours” and “The Stranger,” of James Taylor and the Bee Gees. We were essentially ignorant of the incredible explosion of landmark albums – Iggy’s “Lust For Life” or “The Idiot,” the Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind the Bollocks,” or the Ramones’ “Rocket to Russia,” for example — that had come out that year. Even the FM stations (and make no mistake, I wouldn’t have a car with an FM radio for another several years). Those discoveries would await us in college. But I can promise that I knew every note, every word on ABBA’s “The Album.”

How is it possible that an ABBA picture sleeve features some of the least regrettable fashions of the ’70s?

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