A lot has been written already about the four Swedes, especially a lot of nonsense. For instance, the story about the plane crash that allegedly killed all ABBA members - at the time of the crash, Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid were in their offices in Stockholm as happy as a sandboy and drank coffee. Or the story about ABBA wanting to leave Sweden, because the tax collector's office cashed to many Swedish kronor. This story spread all over the world but it wasn't true.
'ABBA The Book' is the first solid publication that has ABBA's approval as well. It was written by Marianne Lindvall who has known the four Swedes for several years. It's very interesting to read what - for instance - Benny thinks about the critics and the fans: "We don't calculate anything. Critics who accuse us of that make us furious. We simply write the kind of music that we like and we hope that our audience enjoys it too. We could never release a bad song, simply because the fans would buy it anyway. First we look for a strong melody, then we decide whether it should be a rock 'n' roll number or a waltz. Once again, this depends completely on the feelings that we get from the new material."
Björn about the situation of the group today: "We are lucky, since we have our own record company. No one is looking over our shoulder, forcing us to produce more than we do. We decide how much we can produce, without exhausting ourselves and our audience. But we never compromise our musicality. When one of us only has the slightest doubt about a certain number, we forget about the whole thing."
Do you have any personal favourites? Benny: "Yes, 'Dancing Queen'. It's technically one of the most advanced productions. When the record was released, some critics thought that it was technically advanced to the extent that the song lacked any personality and warmth. It became a hit - despite everything. Our Irish fans even selected it as the best song of all times."
With every album, making hits gets harder and harder for ABBA. The new album was planned to be released this year, but it wasn't ready due to lack of time. The new release date: January 1979. And that's exactly the time when ABBA will once again be the centre of attention. And they won't be alone. On January 8, 9 and 10, the annual Unicef Gala will be staged in New York. Artists that have agreed to perform there include Elton John, Rod Stewart, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, Olivia Newton-John and Barry Manilow. The hosts are the Bee Gees who want to assign the royalties of their next single to the International Children's Emergency Fund.
Touring plans are discussed only very cautiously in the Stockholm offices, because recreating the intricate ABBA sound on stage requires such advanced technology that they don't make any profit from the usually sold out concerts. Added to that, the group doesn't like touring. The reason: they don't have much time for a family life...
And that's the pleasant side of their success: ABBA don't have to rush themselves, the money is rolling in. Björn: "The fact that our money is invested in all kinds of companies, is our best old-age insurance. When we are through with ABBA one day, we need sufficient financial security so that we can quit right away."
Has that time come already? Björn: "I know nothing about that."