Single Of The Week 18/04/97

Single Of The Week is where I review a single I'm particularly enamoured of at the moment. It might be a brand spanking new release, or a classic from decades past that I just feel like going on about.

The Name Of The Game

More artists than I've got time to name here have done a cover version of a single ABBA song. Relatively few, however, have done more than one, especially if we exclude dodgy instrumental versions performed by third-rate orchestras. Nana Mouskouri has done two, Erasure have done five, and the all-time champs must be ABBACADABRA, the loose conglomeration of dance artists who have produced at least two albums' worth of ABBA covers.

I own five ABBACADABRA CD singles, and I have to confess that the first four do next to nothing for me musically speaking. They're formula dance covers, replete with thumping repetitive Eurobeats, some of them recognisable only in occasional smatterings of chorus melodies. Plus the singers can't even begin to compete with the brilliance of Agnetha and Frida. It's not that ABBA songs can't be covered effectively in this mode, but Erasure is still pretty much the benchmark against which other hi-NRG covers have to be measured.

With all that off my chest, I have to admit that the most recent ABBACADABRA single, the 'Breeze Mix' of 'The Name Of The Game' (a song so monumentally brilliant even the NME liked it) is by far their best offering yet. A lot of that must have to do with the fact that the original arrangement of the song has been respected, not tarted up to 160bpm. It still doesn't have the sublime majesty of the first recording, but it makes me think ABBACADABRA might have some viability as a concept.

Dedicated fans would probably do better to purchase the band's Revival: Flight One album (which features this mix) nonetheless. The single is backed with a second mix, the 'Definitive Mix', which starts off a litttle promisingly but then loses it totally, and 'Moment In Time', a non-ABBA track of purely academic interest.

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