This post is born out of a few things I suppose.
Firstly, last week Mrs. 17 Seconds and I and our good friend ‘Diamond’ Dave went to see Mamma Mia! at the cinema. Resistance, as even Philip French of the Observer had warned, was indeed futile. It was fun. Sure it wasn’t Citizen Kane or Withnail and I, they’d crowbarred songs in at every opportunity and I can sing far better than Pierce Brosnan, but it was a laugh. Diamond and I were the only blokes in a very packed cinema. Say what you like about stereotypes, pigeonholes and generalisations, but remember that they may well be born out of demographics.
I mentioned this to two friends I met up with in Edinburgh yesterday, one of whom is a massive fan. I asked what he thought of Mamma Mia!, to which he replied that he didn’t think there’d been many good cover versions of Abba songs over the years and couldn’t face it. I know they have been massacred at way too many karaoke bars over the years, but there have been a few. I’ve selected two, one by Ash and Scotland’s very own Camera Obscura, and two great Abba songs: one which is in the film ‘The Winner Takes It All’ my favourite Abba song, and ‘The Visitors.’ ‘The Visitors’ was the title track of what would be their final studio LP, and deals with the treatment of dissidents in the then Soviet Union.
If there are any people sad enough to worry about liking Abba, I would make these points:
1. John Peel narrated a documentary and was a fan.
2. So was Kurt Cobain, who agreed to play Reading in 1992 because Bjorn Again were, and recorded Nevermind in a studios because it was a seventies sort of studio that Abba would have used.
3. ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and quite a few other songs are just as sad as Joy Division.
4. they were brilliant. period. Sod the claims about camp, kitsch blah blah sodding blah, they made great music. Like Sonic Youth, the Clash, Public Enemy etc..
Abba -‘The Winner Takes It All.’ mp3
Abba -‘The Visitors.’ mp3
And those covers…
Camera Obscura -‘Super Trouper.’ mp3
Ash -‘Does your Mother Know? (session).’ mp3