Graham Reid | | 1 min read
At the Abba Museum in Stockholm -- more correctly Abba The Museum and The Swedish Music Hall of Fame -- you should save time for the last rooms, the bit after the Abba part.
There you'll find an outline of Swedish popular music which doesn't shy from how racist some music writers were towards black artists in the Thirties (Louis Armstrong described in horrific terms) and just how everything changed from Swedish folk to a more international pop sound after the arrival of the Beatles.
This section of the museum is of as much, perhaps even more, interest than the rather gilded account of the Abba story which leaves a number of questions unanswered.
However the museum -- cashless, you pay buy credit card or buy their version of tokens -- isn't bad at all on the career of the Abba members before they became the band people know and seem to love.
Benny Andersson for example -- the bearded one -- joined a pretty cool looking pop group Hep Stars whose singer Sven Hedlund looked a natural in the r'n'b-influenced pop world of the mid Sixties.
Andersson quickly started penning songs for them, the first of which was No Response, a very Beatles-influenced songs (think Beatles For Sale, the album floating around at the time) and from then on it was all up for the band.
For a while. The Clash they weren't (see the clip) but they were pretty good.
However by '68 their career was on the wane, Benny had met Bjorn Ulvaeus formerly of the Hootenanny Singers, then a couple of women appeared and . . .
The rest, as they say, is Abba.
At the museum -- and only at the museum -- you can buy a CD titled Before Abba which has three tracks apiece from the various members, and three more by Bjorn and Benny.
It's interesting to hear their separate origins in folk, pop and jazz-cabaret before the kitsch-glam arrived.
This song is lifted from that album, and in due course more will appear at From the Vaults.
For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.