The titles of hits compilations always deal in superlatives: "Greatest," "Best," "Very Best" – but the compilers of this ABBA collection have a special problem justifying the release of yet another such album after the multi-platinum success of 1992's ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits and its 1993 follow-up, More ABBA Gold: More ABBA Hits. (Indeed, the band was never shy about repackaging, issuing a Greatest Hits LP in 1976 as only its third U.S. album, followed by Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 in 1979 and The Singles [The First Ten Years] in 1982.) They have settled on The Definitive Collection and done their best to live up to the name. The 37-track double CD contains "for the first time exclusively collected in one package…
The 2008 nine-disc box Albums is neither the first ABBA multi-disc set nor the first time the pop group's albums have been collected and housed in a box set, but it is the first time a set of their complete recordings has been widely disseminated (such are the perks of being a companion to an international blockbuster) and it's the best of the lot, containing all eight of the group's albums (for the record: Ring Ring, Waterloo, ABBA, Arrival, The Album, Voulez-Vous, Super Trouper, The Visitors), plus a 17-track rarities disc that rounds up non-LP singles (including "Fernando" and "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"), songs sung in Swedish, and plain oddities like a medley of the American folk songs "Pick a Bale of Cotton," "On Top of Old Smokey," and "Midnight Special."
The initial Polydor Abba CDs released in 1982 were only available in territories where PolyGram had the Abba licence but this was to change in 1983 as Polar entered the CD market. In reality, Polar’s entry into the CD market masked a simple case of outsourcing as PolyGram were simply asked to press up copies of their Abba titles with Polar catalogue numbers and packaging. While PolyGram would continue to supply their local markets with red coated Polydor CDs, Abba’s other European licencees would be sent the ‘Polar’ CDs.
Waterloo is the second studio album by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was originally released in Sweden on 4 March 1974 through Polar Music. The album's title track won ABBA the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. Waterloo was first released on CD in Sweden in 1988; a West German CD release followed in 1990 (later released internationally). The album has been reissued in digitally remastered form three times; first in 1997, then in 2001 and again in 2005 as part of The Complete Studio Recordings box set.
Commercially, Super Trouper, ABBA's seventh album, was another worldwide blockbuster. "The Winner Takes It All," its lead-off single, released several months in advance of the album in most territories, was a smash; for example, it was the group's 14th consecutive Top Five hit in the U.K. and their eighth number one there. The title track was also a British chart-topper (their last), as was the album, their sixth.
That it took nearly a year to record Voulez-Vous is an indicator of the creative and personal box in which the four members of ABBA found themselves at the end of the '70s. Their sixth album coincided with the marital split between Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus and the massively shifting currents in popular music, with disco, which had been on the wane, suddenly undergoing a renaissance thanks to the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever.
ABBA's fourth album appeared after the group had arrived as major stars shows the quartet at the absolute top of their game. In addition to "Dancing Queen," which is probably their best-known hit (a number one single on both sides of the Atlantic), the record was filled with brilliant material, including the spirited "When I Kissed the Teacher"; the dramatic, achingly beautiful "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (yet a further hit); the pounding "Money, Money, Money" (still another hit off the album); and the playful "That's Me."