abba boots

40 years ago last Sunday, 20th April 1974, a new record and a new group with a new style jumped out of nowhere and went straight to No 1 in the U.K charts and stayed there for 9 weeks. It was the first of over 26 UK chart hits for this band, 9 of them reaching No. 1. To date they have sold over 380 million albums and singles around the world which makes them one of the best selling music acts of all time. They have won Eurovision and motivated any number of successful tribute bands. Their music has been the inspiration and creative drive for at least three popular films, one of which, in 2008, became the highest grossing picture in the U.K. On the 15th March 2010 the group were inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’. Other acts have tried to emulate their line-up and style but have largely failed. Hear one of their many hit songs and you’ll be singing it for the rest of the day, and yet…

microphone

…and yet they seem to have made little real impact upon us. Unlike other acts and other bands in other times they have not really influenced the way in which we dress or talk or interact with each other…no trendy hair cuts or fashion styles, no safety pins through noses or razor jewellery, no Doc Martins or fish tailed parkas, no fundamental change to who we are. There is no “John, Paul, George and Ringo” familiarity with these people. Most of us cannot remember their names or tell one from the other and yet…and yet we all know who they are. All they have given us are their songs – and perhaps that is enough, songs that are memorable, songs that are joyful, songs that break your heart, songs that we happily dance to at our celebrations and anniversaries, songs that we will still be singing into our old age. It was just over 40 years ago that we first became aware of them at the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton when the ‘Super Trouper’ lights found them shining like the sun, smiling, having fun, feeling like number one….

The group

The group’s final public performance together was on the BBC TV programme The Late, Late Breakfast Show on 11 December 1982. Since then the individual members have been involved in various solo projects. There have been rumours of the band reforming but nothing has come of it so far, and yet…

…and yet as one of the group said just a couple of weeks ago, “As long as we can sing and play, then why not?”

Waterloo

The song that launched it all.

— from Martyn Day