Super Trouper


Atlantic Records, 1980

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Super Trouper is the sound of the four members of ABBA breathing a collective sigh of relief. “Finally, the 70s are over,” was what they were trying to say. “And we don’t have to make another dreadful disco album like Voulez-Vous.” 

Yes, this seventh album was a lucky one for ABBA indeed.  To say they shifted gears when 1980 rolled around would be an understatement. What they were able to do was transform from a bubblegum pop group into serious Adult Contemporary artists. As with most music acts, the dawn of the new decade helped breathe new life into much of the material that was released at that time. Less bittersweet than their claustrophobic final album The Visitors, the ABBA we find here is a lot more hopeful and full of good cheer. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

You can’t get more upbeat than “The Piper.” This folk song is so unabashed in its sugary expression of happiness that it almost makes you go into diabetic shock. But hey, that’s the Swedes for you, always looking for an excuse to drink up and be merry. Before you put those glasses down, you may want to toast ABBA for including a song to properly ring in the “Happy New Year.” Then, when you’re all properly liquored up, hit the dance floor for Super Trouper’s best upbeat songs, “On And On And On” and “Lay All Your Love On Me.” When I first those two songs as a 10-year-old kid, I went nuts over them and became an instant ABBA fan from that point on.

The title track to Super Trouper is yet another festive delight. It combines the warm and fuzzy tone of a Christmas carol with the staccato rhythm of a marching band. Only Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus could ever pull off something like that. As always, both men served as producers for this album and delegated the lead vocal duties to their principal vocalists Agnetha and Frida.

Although Frida gets the lion’s share of material, Agnetha manages to steal the spotlight completely out away from her with one knockout punch: “The Winner Takes It All.” Not only did this poignant ballad become the only US Top 40 hit from Super Trouper, but it is also ABBA’s best song ever. After turning in such a stunning performance, Agnetha would be elevated to cult icon status, while all you could do was feel sorry for poor Frida. Even a minor hit with 1983’s “I Know There’s Something Going On” couldn’t sustain Frida’s resulting solo career for very long.

The closing song “The Way Old Friends Do” seems to sum up all you need to know about the recording of Super Trouper. It was when ABBA was seemingly on top of the world and all four members came together as a cohesive and dynamic unit. Each person knew what their role was and their execution was right on the money. 

Somewhat telling, however, are the lyrics to “Our Last Summer,” which is where an eyebrow could possibly be raised.  Little did ABBA know just how prophetic their words would turn out to be.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith 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.