An article from Dutch magazine Hitkrant about the tapes that were stolen from Björn’s car around 1983. The tapes included outtakes from ABBA’s 1981/82 recording sessions. The recordings have surfaced on numerous bootlegs since then.
“When a couple of cassettes were stolen from my car one and a half year ago, we were hardly worried at first,” ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus says. “The tapes only contained some leftovers from our recording sessions of that time. With the passing of time, it has become clear that we’ve put these songs to great use later on. Since the theft, a flourishing trade in mysterious ABBA-cassettes has come into being.”
“Actually, it’s all my fault,” Björn says worriedly. “In 1983, we were planning to put a couple of songs that we had recorded during the ‘Visitors’ album on a new long-player. For a moment, I left my car unattended at the parking space of the Polar Studios in Stockholm. When I returned to my car a few minutes later, the harm had been done. Someone had stolen a couple of tapes from the glove compartment.”
At first, the theft didn’t seem to be a disaster. “The album would be released a couple of months later,” Benny Andersson steps in. “The only risk was that the songs would be played on the radio before the release date of the album. That’s a bit annoying, but definitely not a catastrophe.”
This all changed when several weeks later it was decided to leave the album unreleased.
“The sales figures of the singles ‘The Day Before You Came’ and ‘Under Attack’ were very disappointing,” Björn explains. “Apart from that, Frida and Agnetha were busy with their solo projects, while Benny and I were working on our Chess musical. This meant that ABBA-songs would see the light of day without our permission, due to these stolen cassettes.”
Björn and Benny’s fear became reality. “During last year, tapes with songs like ‘Opus 10’, ‘I Am The City’ and ‘Just Like That’ suddenly appeared on the market,” Benny says. “In England, the cassettes were even sold at extortionate prices. It turned out that the starting point of this trade was Germany, which suggests that the thief could possibly be a German ABBA-fan.”
Björn and Benny are clearly burdened by the situation. “Especially, since these are unfinished versions of the songs,” Benny explains. “Most of these songs have gotten a different destination since then. That’s how the highly classical sounding ‘Opus 10’ is called ‘Anthem’ nowadays. It’s being performed by Tommy Körberg in the musical Chess. The song ‘Every Man Needs A Helping Hand’, initially sung by Agnetha, was used in Chess as well, under the title ‘Heaven Help My Heart’.”
Still, the twosome will not sit down in despair. “It’s a very annoying situation,” Björn and Benny say. “Especially, since we had plans to go into the recording studio with Frida and Agnetha just now. We still have a couple of leftovers from Chess, that we want to record with ABBA. As soon as the confusion surrounding this cassette-business is over, we will get back to work at full force. In the future, ABBA will still have to be reckoned with, no matter what.”