Monday, October 10, 2005


Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, my parents had an LP Player, and a small collection of albums, that I played much more than them. These included Diana Ross and The Supremes Greatest Hits, a generic Disco Hits album (all Brotherhood of Man and Baccarra), The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, ELO and Wings (their tastes were shamelessly middle of the road). There were also some classical albums - the type that get advertised as "Made by Ronco" (because my mother was aspirant working-class and wanted us to "better ourselves").

One of the weirdest albums, which I often listened to, was Abba's "Arrival". Only a few of the hits on Arrival became Abba Classics (Knowing Me, Knowing You and Dancing Queen). This must have been one of their Scottish-influenced period because several of the songs have what seem to be bagpipes on them. It was a slightly more sinister album than some of the others. The cover picture, with them all sitting in a big glass helicopter, says it all. And I used to scare my little sister by playing the song about a tiger "I am the tiger! I am behind you! I am the tiger!" Sometimes, if I played it enough, she would cry.

I think I over-listened to those songs at a very impressionable age and took some of the song lyrics to heart - their imprints lasting well into my early adulthood. Particularly "What a crazy day, when I kissed the teacher" from When I Kissed the Teacher, "In my dreams, I have a plan, if I got me, a wealthy man, I wouldn't have to work at all, I'd fool around and have a ba-al!" from Money, Money, Money. And "Anybody could be that guy! Lights are low and the music's HIGH!" from Dancing Queen. The album was typical of that slightly slutty, carefree, tacky glam, express-yourself attitude that was just beginning to burn out in the late 1970s.

I had an "Easy to Play Abba" piano book (piano lessons - again, an aspirant mother) and spent many an hour in the 1980s, belting these tunes out, to the probable dismay of my neighbours.

It's considered very gay to like Abba. And they have gone from being fab, to naff, to fab again. Partly rehabilitated via Australian films like Muriel's Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Like Muriel, you don't have to be cool to like Abba. You don't even have to appreciate them ironically (although it helps). I am one of those people just old enough to remember them the first time around. And oddly, they do still stand the test of time. I recently purchased Arrival as a cd (after reading one of High Camp Caress Morell's postings.) When I got it home and put it on, I heard the first few bars of "When I Kissed the Teacher" (a song I haven't thought of or heard in 20 years) and suddenly I was transported back to my parent's old living room, circa 1979. I could practically see the horrible blue and yellow swirly carpet they had and the lime green three piece sofa combination that we had for nearly 20 years up until 1991 (only two were made in the entire country - for good reason). I remembered dancing round to it with my sister (we would often hold "dance classes" with me as the demanding teacher and her the unruly pupil). So until someone invents a time machine, Abba's glass helicopter is about the closest I'm going to get.


Caress said...

I love Arrival - especially Tiger. Fernando is a bit blah but the album is very serious and Agnetha and Frida sound like they worked through some pain during recording!

Trashbinder said...

Oh God, I'm torn between this one and Voulez Vous. Love 'em both.