Toronto
2 min

ABBACADABRA

In our desire to foster informed drug use (Mayor Mel Lastman, please don’t ban ABBA, too), here’s a list of ABBA resources and other oddly tuneful bits of info.



• ABBA’s story started in April 1974 when the band won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo.” But the group had existed already for two years as Björn And Benny With The Svenska Flicka (Swedish girls). They released two singles in the US on the Playboy label, and these records make up the Holy Grail to ABBA fans, fetching as much as US $75 each.



• Last November, an ABBA exhibition opened at Nordiska museet (the Nordic Museum) in Stockholm, Sweden. Featuring ABBA-related memorabilia borrowed from fans, the group’s own collections, the exhibition is running throughout the rest of the year. For more information, visit the Nordiska museet at http://www.nordm.se.



• ABBA’s sound engineer Michael Tretow released an album of his own in 1976 called Let’s Boogie. The album, which reached the top 30 in Sweden, featured contributions for all four members of ABBA, including Agnetha playing piano on one of the tracks, and both girls singing back-up on numerous others, including songs such as “Sandwich” and “Doc Mcgurgle’s Babylonian Lizard Tooth Oil.”



• In 1978, Matchbox released a set of Barbie-style ABBA dolls. A set of various concert outfits was sold separately. Today, each doll fetches several hundred dollars. At their peak, the ABBA merchandising machine also released the regular books, magazines, and T-shirts, but some of the weirder and more sought-after items include socks, perfume, and ABBA The Soap, which, much to the dismay of collectors, was found to be a delectable treat by mice.



• ABBA look-a-like groups are still touring Europe, Australia, and, occasionally, North America. Björn Again is the most notable, but more than a dozen groups are cashing in on the ABBA sound, including Abbacadabra, BABBA, Angeleyes, Arrival, and Voulez-Vous.



• Two of the more bizarre cover albums of ABBA’s music are Salma And Sabina Sing The Hits Of ABBA In Hindi, and Panpipes Play ABBA.



• Hoping to infect a younger generation with ABBA-mania, a group of Swedish youngsters formed the ABBA Teens. After releasing their first single Mamma Mia, with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson’s blessing, the kids changed their name to the A Teens. The ABBA kids have released six more singles and an album.



Following their US album debut in May, the A Teens will open for Britney Spears on her North American tour, starting on Wed, Jul 19. The only Canadian stop is in Vancouver on Sat, Aug 12. Check the website at: http://www.a-teens.com.



• In 1989, Benny and Björn began working on a new musical based on the Vilhelm Moberg book The Emigrants, about Swedish emigration to North America in the late 1800s. Kristina från Duvelmåla opened in Malmö Sweden in 1995, and played to sold out crowds for several years. Check the Website at: http://www.duvemala.com/.



• Every April, hundreds of fans make the pilgrimage to Roosendaal, the Netherlands home of ABBA’s official fan club (yes, they still have one) and the annual one-day convention.



• Essential ABBA CDs: The bare minimum would be ABBA Gold and More ABBA Gold. That’ll get you all of the big hits and more well-known songs. Oro Grandes Exitos will get you some of ABBA’s greatest hits in Spanish. The ABBA Generation by the A Teens will give you a ’90s sound to the good old ABBA greats.



• The website that will connect you with all kinds of ABBA information, including an e-mail list for ABBA fans, is http://www.abbamail.com.



• The official ABBA website is http://www.abbasite.com.



• The Mamma Mia website is http://www.abbasite.com/mammamia/.