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FRIDA / Something's Going On
on February 2, 2000
By the time Frida got around to recording her first English-language solo album in 1982, the public had decided that enough was enough, ABBA-wise. As it turns out, even the band themselves felt that ABBA was running on fumes at this point. Their singles were no longer reaching the UK Top 10 (including, bafflingly, the beautiful 'The Day Before You Came'). It was always going to be difficult to score a hit or earn credibility if your name was attached to ABBA, when the whole world was fawning over Adam & the Ants.... Added to this, 'Something's Going On' was not what the hard-core ABBA fans expected. Crashing drums, crunchy guitar figures, eloquent bitterness and an abandonment of the dance-floor failed to pull in the boys and girls for whom 'Fernando' and 'Super Trouper' were cutting edge.
At the time, Frida was adamant about two things. Firstly, if Phil Collins wouldn't produce, there would be no album. Secondly, there would be no Andersson/Ulvaeus compositions recorded. There was no point, she argued, in doing a solo album if it was to end up sounding like ABBA. The first single, 'I Know There's Something Going On' underlined this. Sounding like a meeting between Pat Benatar and The Cars, it hinted at the style of album to come.
The album opens with a speaker-wrecking volley of snares at the start of 'Tell Me It's Over', a rocker which manages to be gritty, bitter and bouncy all at the same time. Next comes the reggae-style 'I See Red' (a real highlight), a missed single opportunity. A hat-trick of gems is completed in the album's next track, 'I Got Something'. This wasn't commercial enough for single release but just listen to that vocal! Great guitar figures and punchy brass underpin Frida's bravura performance to great effect. The wispy ballad, 'Strangers' is pretty but no big deal and Bryan Ferry's composition 'The Way You Do' is hardly his finest moment. Still, the graceful delicacy of Frida's interpretation of Collins' torch song 'You Know What I Mean' more than compensates.
As a set, 'Something's Going On' is cohesive and satisfying. Only one track jars and that is the closer, 'Here We'll Stay', a breezy, lovey-dovey duet with Phil Collins. Tracks 1 through 10 are the REAL album, where Frida works through her post-divorce wounds and agonies. Overall, 'Something's Going On' has worn its age rather better than its successor, 'Shine', its sound being more organic. This is not an album for fans of ABBA's perkier, sweeter hits. It must be seen as a stand-alone item.
Oh, and by the way - comparing this with any of Agnetha Faltskog's solo output is a pointless, subjective exercise that does neither women any favours. They are both great singers in their individual ways. If you like your music with a bit of grit, try this album. If ABBA's ballads and dance tunes are what light your fire, try Agnetha's more light-weight work.