Super Trouper

ABBA

Atlantic Records, 1980

http://www.abbasite.com/

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/13/2001

1980 marked several major changes in the world. Obviously, it brought in a new decade, but the old decade took the disco movement with it, kicking and screaming. (The turning point, some say, had been an anti-disco rally at Chicago's Comiskey Park, where a planned demolition of disco records turned into a near riot.)

The changes in the social climate affected groups like Abba, who had started to seriously slide into a disco mindframe. 1980's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Super Trouper marked a return to the pop sensibilities which had brought the group their early fame, and it produced for them a more enjoyable album for the listener. (I'm skipping Voulez-Vous at this time - only because I thought we had already reviewed it. My bad.)

If people were scared that a musical shift would cause the group to lose their ability to write catchy hits, they had nothing to worry about. Super Trouper kicks off with three of Abba's hits - two of them being strong songs themselves. The title track and "The Winner Takes It All" mark a return to form for Abba, and are possibly some of the best songs they came up with in their career. (I wish I could say the same about "On And On And On," a song which I've just never been able to appreciate.)

What is noteworthy about Super Trouper is that the strongest moments on the album, surprisingly, aren't found in the hit singles. Tracks like "Me And I," "Our Last Summer" (an interesting track seeing that the members of Abba were less than two years away from breaking up), "Lay All Your Love On Me" and "The Way Old Friends Do" (which was recorded live in London) all are evidence that Abba was on a creative high, spinning some of their best work yet.

The only minor hurdle is still somewhat interesting - "Happy New Year," a poignant look at leaving the '70s and wondering what the next 10 years would bring them. Again, the band's imminent breakup is haunting as you hear some of the lyrics: "Who can say / What we'll find / What lies waiting / Down the line / In the end of / Eighty-nine."

So what was eventually responsible for the creative rebirth of Abba on Super Trouper? Maybe we'll never know for sure, but whatever was happening to the band, internally or externally, they were able to take it and put the best creative spin on it. The result was possibly their best album.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.