Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 28/04/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

My ten favourite ABBA songs

When ABBA fans get together, one of the most common topics of discussion is 'OK, what's the worse song ABBA have ever recorded?' This is the kind of issue you can only discuss with another dedicated fan. Amongst the heathen, all ABBA's work needs to be defended as a body; there's no room for admitting the dross. Amongst people who already know they're great, you can get down and discuss where they went wrong.

Consensus, oddly enough, can usually be achieved. Practically every one of these discussions I've ever had has ended with the conclusion that 'I Saw It In The Mirror', from the band's first album, Ring Ring, is the worst of all. Other popular choices include 'Chiquitita' and 'Man In The Middle'.

What it's much harder to reach agreement on is what the band's best songs are. This is inevitably a personal choice, but even for an individual it's tricky. However, I'm nothing if not a listmaker, so here's my personal top ten list of ABBA songs, right here, right now.

  1. The Winner Takes It All (from Super Trouper, 1980) And the song has it all. Perfect production, lyrics, performance and even video in total synch. The ultimate song about divorce, and the ultimate tribute to the talent of Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Frida.
  2. SOS (from ABBA, 1975) A decade before metal ballads became popular, 'SOS' combined heartbreak with a near-headbanger chorus riff. A perfect song for karaoke, too.
  3. The Day Before You Came (single, 1982) Composed in the studio, this synth-driven piece showed ABBA's ability to move with the times. Should have been a much bigger hit.
  4. Tiger (from Arrival, 1976) A simple pop tune, with driving guitars, seamless lead vocals and a powered-up sense of playfulness. No-one ever knew why this wasn't a single.
  5. The Visitors (from The Visitors, 1981) A dramatic, almost-spoken vocal drives this dark, paranoid tune about Russian dissidents. And who said ABBA just wrote about kissing the teacher? Perhaps Frida's finest moment with the band.
  6. Knowing Me, Knowing You (from Arrival, 1976) A perfect pop ballad, with production so crisp you could fry chicken in it. The call-and-response vocals have been much copied but never bettered.
  7. Kisses Of Fire (from Voulez-Vous, 1979) Warm, sensual, disco-divaesque, evocative, unaccountably buried at the back end of the album. One day, Bananarama will have a huge hit with this song.
  8. Angeleyes (from Voulez-Vous, 1979) The band pull off a seamless three-part vocal while Benny manages all sorts of tricks with melody and rhythm in the background. Often unwisely dismissed as the B-side of the album's title single, this song deserves the equal billing it got at the time.
  9. Watch Out (from Waterloo, 1974) Very much a neglected classic, the band rock out totally with an arrangement that was later lifted by (of all people) Lenny Kravitz on 'Are You Gonna Go My Way?' What I wouldn't give to see this in concert.
  10. Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (from The Visitors, 1981) Play it in a dark room, with a single candle, and try not to shiver. Solitude and space captured in a bare four minutes.

Oddly enough, exactly half these songs were singles.

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