Tuesday, November 3, 2015
ABBA - Super Trouper
Side one opens with the title track. "Super Trouper", the third single, soared to number 93 in Japan, number 77 in Australia, number 45 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 32 in Canada, number 11 in Sweden, number 8 in Spain, number 4 in France, number 3 in Austria and Switzerland, number 2 in Norway, and number 1 in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, and the UK. I like how the song opens with an unaccompanied rendition of the chorus. The lyrics tell of a despondent singer who spends so much of her life on stage. The term "super trouper" refers to a spotlight that follows a performer.
"The Winner Takes It All", the album's first single released in the summer of 1980, reached number 33 in Japan, number 16 in New Zealand, number 10 in Canada and Spain, number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 7 in Australia and Italy, number 5 in France, number 4 in Germany, number 3 in Austria, Norway and Switzerland, number 2 in Finland and Sweden, and number 1 in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, the UK, and on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Again, we have another strong opening - this time an instrumental overture with piano at the center. The sorrowful lyrics tell of a relationship completely on the rocks and where only one party ends up in a good place afterward.
The second single "On and On and On" went to number 90 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 52 in Japan, number 18 in France and number 9 in Australia. This one has a bouncy energy, right from the get-go. It almost has hint of new-wave to it, especially with the clipped vocal delivery of the verses.
The next track, "Andantes, Andante", was released as a single only in El Salvador and Argentina. The song very much is a swaying lullaby. Replace some of the keyboards with some steel guitar and this one easily could be done in a country style.
The mid-tempo "Me and I" closes out the first half. A vocoder is employed for part of the echoing on the chorus.
Side two begins with the gentle lilting ballad "Happy New Year". It was released as a single in 1999 to promote CD releases from ABBA; at that time it charted at number 75 in Germany, number 27 in Sweden, number 20 in Norway and number 15 in the Netherlands.
"Our Last Summer" continues with the lofty melodies as the singer reflects upon memories of the past.
"The Piper", released as the B-side to the third single, deals with themes of the seduction of charismatic fascist leaders. The light, dancing march of course brings to mind the pied piper of Hamlin, leading away the children as easily as he had done the vermin previously.
"Lay All Your Love on Me" was released as a twelve-inch single in 1981. The opening keyboards on this one have a dramatic, gothic vibe to them. It goes well with the songs overall melodramatic romance theme. The rest is an energetic dance tune.
The album closes with a live track "The Way Old Friends Do", recorded at the Wembley Arena. It is a powerful performance that showcases the amazing vocal harmonies of the group.
Later CD releases included two additional tracks: “Elaine” (a very snappy synth-pop number) and “Put On Your White Sombrero” (a "synth meets mariachi band" song).
I did not own Super Trouper on vinyl, but I did have the first and third singles as 45's. At the time I was getting into the hits from the group and even owned The Magic of ABBA compilation album on vinyl. So, over half of this album was new to me for this review.
For more from ABBA, click here.