The first album on my first stack of CDs is Abba the Album (UK release1978). This is an album I used to have on vinyl. I remember I liked the cover because it was unusually stark (coloured drawings on a plain white background) for the time - although now it reminds me a little of the drawing that Joni Mitchell did for the cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's So Far (see below)- and I am pretty sure that the Abba cover was inspired by that. The album is the soundtrack to the film Abba the Movie, a film I remember going to see with my mum at Thetford Palace. I liked the film so much I went back to see it again on my own. I was a massive Abba fan after seeing them win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 - I was 8 (I was up because I was ill). They were the beginning of my love affair with music (unless you count a minor flirtation with Slade and Booby Vee when I was 5). The first album of theirs I really loved was Arrival, but I won't talk about that here as it was not the first CD on the pile.
Abba the Album is an odd mixture. Some of the tracks are verging on the kind of thing you would expect to hear in musical theatre - tracks like I Wonder would not be out of place in Evita, and indeed this track and the ones either side of it are subtitled "three scenes from a mini musical." Listening to them now I am not surprised that a musical film and a Broadway show have been made out of them. I think these were the tracks I liked least when I was 12. The tracks I liked best at that time were the ones they played on the radio - the hits - Take a Chance on Me and The Name of the Game, but I also loved some of the more melancholy tracks like Move On and One Man, One Woman.
I actually really enjoyed revisiting this album, and not just because of the feeling of nostalgia it inevitably brings for the child I was - on the verge of my teens and just really waking up to my own musical taste (my parents were NOT Abba fans). Within a year or two I had graduated to listening to bands like The Clash. The thing about Abba is that however you feel about them, their music has stood the test of time - whereas some of the other late seventies, early eighties music definitely hasn't. I was able to listen to the whole album without wanting to fast forward or turn it off. It has a feel good quality and I don't even mind the lyrics, in fact I found myself thinking that if we all imagined were eagles flying above the earth, more often, then perhaps the world would be a better, kinder place. Maybe this is nursery level stuff in terms of technicality and innovation - but an enjoyable listen none the less. One for the keep pile.