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Abba's Abba Gold (Thirty Three and a Third series) Paperback – March 31, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An entry in a series about famous LPs. Vincentelli says that Abba is appropriately represented by a greatest-hits compilation because it was basically a singles band ("few people can name more than two of their albums, let alone tell them apart"). Freed from chronicling the process of putting together a set of songs, she concentrates on Abba's highly successful journey through the top-40 charts. Among other pithy nuggets about the thoroughly enjoyable, if slightly saccharine, ear candy Abba extruded, readers learn that the shimmering "'Dancing Queen' is the song that ensured" the group's long-term international success. Mike Tribby
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"Throughout her meticulously researched, song-by-song exploration of Abba's most famous moments, Vincentelli examines with insight, wit and unabashed fanaticism everything from "Knowing Me, Knowing You"'s domestic drama to, well, the shoulder pads, tights, and foil shirts worn in the "Voulez-Vous" video. In the process, she not only makes a compelling, sincere case for all things Abba but also for pop music itself." - San Francisco Bay Guardian, 5/19/04

“This sensitive, smart, tiny book is amazingly comprehensive, dealing with everything from recording history to the gay following the band developed. Vincentelli, an astute critic and a rabid fan, is just the writer to grasp the many-layered experience that is ABBA.” –Newsday, 4/11/04 (Claire Dederer)

“Vincentelli is an intriguing sociologist (calling Abba one of the few band to link ‘European drag queens and Midwestern housewives, New York hipsters and Japanese students’) and a funny critic (‘Lay All Your Love on Me,’ she says, ‘may well be the gayest song ever recorded by two clean-cut heterosexual couples’).” -–The Boston Phoenix, 7/8/04 (Mike Miliard)

“With Elisabeth’s personal anecdotes thrown into the mix of ABBA’s history, quotes from contemporary critics and musicians, and analyses of the songs that make up ABBA Gold, it’s hard not to read the entire book in one sitting. And for me personally, Elisabeth Vincentelli is the kind of writer I aspire to be- full of musical knowledge, yet passionate and personal about the subject she takes on.” –Cha Cha Charming, June 2004

“Vincentelli’s study of Abba Gold is a valiant effort.” –Jason Dropor, Record Collector, October 2004 (Jason Dropor)

"The author doesn't mind telling you that her favorite song EVER is Abba's "SOS," which is admirably candid (although wrong—"Knowing Me, Knowing You" is the peak of Abba-ness), and she totally gets the blissful unhipness that makes the band beloved by everyone from "European drag queens to Midwestern housewives."—Austin American-Statesman, 10/17/04

'The idea was simple: to ask a group of authors to each write a book about a classic album. What emerged became Continuum's 33 1/3 series. Without guidelines or rules, each author embraced their own favourite album and chose exactly how they wanted to write about it.As a result, each book is by turn anecdotal, obsessive, technical and personal, but always passionate.' (Swell Music, December 2006)

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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 7)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (March 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826415466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826415462
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ian Cole on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
ABBA GOLD by Elisabeth Vincentelli is a fascinating in-depth look at the phenomenally successful compilation CD ABBA GOLD, first released in 1992 and which to date has reportedly sold over 25 million copies worldwide. The author delves into the songs themselves, the original context of the songs and where they fit into the history of the group, the albums the songs originally appeared on, the creation of the ABBA GOLD CD and the ABBA revival that coincided with and was fed by its release. She also goes into great detail on why this compilation, rather than any of ABBA's eight studio albums, should qualify as a "classic" album. It's obvious from the text that Elisabeth is a fan of pop music in general and ABBA in particular - she declares `SOS' to be her favourite song, ever. But it's not all blind praise - if negative critical comment is warranted, it's made, but in a constructive manner. The author justifies her arguments in a persuasive manner that the reader may not necessarily agree with, but can find little to argue about.
As a long-term ABBA fan, and contributor to the book, I found it an interesting and compelling read. ABBA GOLD played a huge part in the ABBA revival and the rehabilitation of ABBA in the eyes of the general public, and this book covers that in more detail than anything that's come before. All in all, something different in the ABBA bibliography. Highly recommended for ABBA fans or just fans of great music.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Johnny D. Goode on May 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read 5 other books in this series (Thirty Three and a Third) so far, and this book about Abba shares similar qualities with those: it's smart, well-written, interesting, likeable, and it made me think about what it is that makes music great, and what it means for something to be a 'classic' - oh how I hate that word! - album. Is it possible that some Abba fans are upset because Ms. Vincentelli chose to write about a 'Greatest Hits' record, as opposed to a 'real' Abba album? If so, I can understand that, but the sheer negativity of the two reviews on here so far astounds me. Her choice of album is an interesting one within the context of this series, and I'm amazed that ANY Abba album is being considered alongside such obvious 'album bands' as Pink Floyd, Joy Division, Hendrix, and others.
It looks to me as though the author has done a good deal of research for this short book, and her enthusiasm for the songs shines through. She even goes so far as to say that "SOS" is her favorite song of all time, encapsulating "everything that makes life worth living"! I'm not an Abba expert, so it's possible there are one or two factual errors in here, but I would definitely feel comfortable recommending this book to people.
I'm giving it 4 stars because I can see that if you are an obsessive fan of this band, there might not be much that's new in here for you. But for everybody else who's into Abba, this seems like a great little book to start with.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This charming little book is packed with a rich array of facts and opinions, including a brief account of the historical context of the band's original work and (importantly) the way in which the release of ABBA GOLD revitalized the band's career while simultaneously changing the meaning of its work. (You hadn't stopped to think about that, now had you. That's one of the main topics of the book.)
Even better are Vincentelli's close readings of the songs, which increased my pleasure in them (no mean feat!). Best of all, perhaps, are her thoughts on the relationship between rock and pop, and the roles women tend to take, or are assigned, in each.
A real achievement. So! Is this book for everyone? Maybe not, as the sharp mix of negative and positive reviews here demonstrates. So here's the important question: Is it for you? I suggest you scroll up and read "From the inside flap," which is actually an excerpt from the book. The author is discussing the startling fact that "Dancing Queen" begins by launching straight into the chorus, the best part of the song, rather than building up to it. I've heard that song thousands of times, but I'd never even thought about that before. The effect is magical, and now I both understand it better and appreciate it more. If you enjoy that excerpt, grab the book. Otherwise, click elsewhere, and find something that pleases you more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P Magnum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I like a few ABBA songs and don't consider myself a fan, so for me, Elisabeth Vincentelli's entry in the 33 1/3 series brought some new light onto this group. Although it is a book about a greatest hits album, Ms. Vincentelli goes into the recording of each of the albums the hits were taken. Despite being known as more a campy group, ABBA were craftsmen in the studio and the endurance of the music is nicely detailed.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Siriam on October 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
A hard one this - a series devoted to classic LPs tackles a "greatest hits" compilation as it's subject. As a result the quandary is how to approach given one is dealing with a group which used the single not LP as its main platform; the tracks cover 1974 to 1982 and this complilation itself was not released until 1992 when the group was clearly long dead but about to undergo a major revival and reassessment, helped by their old Polar label being acquired by Phonogram.

The approach of taking in order the tracks as they first appear on the compilation but then grouping with all other tracks on the compilation where they are all from (or at least were placed on) the same original LP, helps easier comparison but creates a very jump cut approach in chronology given Waterloo the first hit in time is last on the compilation and thus the book.

If you are a devout Abba fan one suspects much of the history given is well known but for those with little knowledge beyond the original records, the book is a pretty good coverage on each of the songs and helps place them in historical context as well as showing how contemporary and later events have helped the group become such a success despite their visual image being trapped in the 1970s. This success is not least because of the songs appeal to an international audience so displacing all the US/UK criticism at the time of their lyrics (given English was their second language)and from a country that had few global pop credentials in the early 1970s (yet interestingly only one of their hits was ever recorded outside Sweden).
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Abba's Abba Gold (Thirty Three and a Third series)
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