Monday, May 26, 2008

Knowing Abba, Knowing You, Aha

Like hundreds of thousands of others I have spent miuch of the day with Radio 2 on in the background, listening to the All Time Abba Chart. I don't know what the compilers of this chart were on when they put it together, but to put The Winner Takes it All at only number seven was a travesty!

Here's their Top Ten, which astonishingly doesn't include SOS, Chiquitita or Gimme, Gimme, Gimme...

10. I have a dream
9. Mamma Mia
8. Waterloo
7. Winner Takes it All
6. Take a Chance on Me
5. Super Trouper
4. Name of the Game
3. Fernando
2. Knowing me, Knowing you
1. Dancing Queen

And here's what my chart would look like...

10. Waterloo
9. My Love, My Life
8. The Day Before You Came
7. Chiquitita
6. Fernando
5. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
4. Mamma Mia
3. SOS
2. Dancing Queen
1. Winner Takes it all

I'm sure you agree...


Anonymous said...

More of a disco+prog man myself...

10. Move On
9. Does Your Mother Know That You’re Out
8. One Man, One Woman
7. Chiquitita
6. Knowing Me Knowing You
5. Summer Night City
4. Take a Chance on Me
3. The Visitors
2. The Name of the Game
1. Eagle


Ilja Nieuwland said...

"The Day Before You Came" was a solo Agneta Falskög song, wasn't it? Anyway, where is "I am the Tiger"?

'Arrival' was actually my first piece of vinyl, back in the seventies. Well, my second really, and I refuse to divulge the first. Let's say that it was something to do with the colour blue...

Anonymous said...

I would have Chiquitita and Fernando in higher positions. However, Take a Chance on Me deserves the top spot. If I included Dancing Queen, my wife would be a little worried.

Anonymous said...

What about "Thank You For The Music", or "The Day Before You Cane".

Although I do think Blancmange did a better version of the latter!

Anonymous said...

10- when all is said and done;9- angeleyes;8-super trouper;7-waterloo;6-gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight;5-take a chance on me;4-honey honey;3-sos;2-does your mother...;1- dancing queen. Oooh- that's made me go all 1970's there for a mo!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Iain, The Name of the Game is not only the best Abba song - it's also one of the greatest pop songs ever. The Winner Takes It All is, I'm afraid, over-rated.

Anonymous said...

Ah, political people who appreicate real music. :-) I grew up in Scandinavia when the four were still separate artistes, so I think of them with special affection and have the complete collection. I'd pick 'The Winner Takes It All' as the best, but politicians should enjoy 'On and on and on' (featuring a minister trying to pick up Agnetha in a bar), and some of the less-known ones deserve a proper release - e.g. the Westyern pastiche 'Pick up your white sombrero'.

Anonymous said...

SOS deserves to be number one - but then so do so many of the others. Abba's whole careers was a masterclass of how to write brilliant pop songs.

Oh, can I make an honorary mentions of "Ring Ring" and "That's Me"; they probably wouldn't make the top ten, but are fabulous nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

They're all fantastic pop songs, of course, but what about "Thank you for the music"?

Confession - I watched clips of David Cassidy on You Tube the other day. Swoon! Suddenly I was 13 again.

kinglear said...

NO NO NO! - the all time greatest was thank you for the music. for goodness sake!
And the one that mentions a rainy night in Glasgow that I can never remember the name of.

Paul Burgin said...

I have always had a sneaky regard for Thank You For the Music myself!

Anonymous said...

I would have to put The Visitors, Should I Laugh Or Cry, One Man One Woman, and Eagle up there somewhere. Do you know I Am The City, the one they put on More Abba Gold? Absolute class.

Anonymous said...

As I said, and so did will never hear ABBA live again, but Bjorn Again come pretty darn close.

I like

The Visitors
On and On and On
Voulez Vous
Mama Mia
I have a dream

My favourite band member was Anni-Frid.

Anonymous said...

I hate Fernando. It's all that macho Latin American revolutionary crap. Banderilla-wearing "freedom fighters" whose dream is to be a Havana-smoking dictator and wank around in fatigues. "If I had to do it all again, I would my friend, Fernando."

Oh shut up.

Anonymous said...

Not ABBA, but as we are on top tens, here goes...

10. Electioneering - Radiohead
9. No Good (Start The Dance) - The Prodigy
8. Y Control - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7. Amazing Grace - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
6. Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes
5. White Lines - Grand Master Flash
4. Underneath the Stars - Kate Rusby
3. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
2. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
1. True Love Waits - Radiohead

Beat that, Tories...

Liz said...

That sinewy woman in the leotard has ruined Gimme Gimme Gimme for me.

I only had one ABBA LP when I was a kiddie, and scratched it when galumphing around the living room to Does Your Mother, pretending to be a graceful little Swedish girl. I can still be found doing stealthy disco dancing to ABBA in my own living room when I think nobody is looking.

Scipio said...

I'm sorry - what has this to do with politics?

Oh to hell with it: Winner takes it all is overrated, Fernando is great, Waterloo is fab.

But, whay about T-Rex Iain? A very under estimated 70's band!

John M Ward said...

The problem is that there is so much good and very memorable material from which to choose. A Top Ten isn't really enough to do the exercise justice -- it would need to be at least twenty.

That said, I am pleased that others have included Eagle in their lists: it is very evocative and one of the very best.

Anonymous said...

Kinglear - you're thinking of "Super Trooper" - "I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow..."

Iain Dale said...

Tom, every time you comment on here my respect for you grows and grows!

Anonymous said...

Thousands of endangered pixels have been laid waste for this?

LiberallyCritical said...

Yes, it was wonderful, although even more rewarding, Radio 4 arts programme has Leonard Cohen on it right now.

All this has got me song-writing - how about this little celebration of new Toryism?

(With apologies to Paul Weller)

Eton Tories

Sup up your claret, collect your Oxford bags,
There'll be a by-election soon down near Henley,
Get out of your Bentleys, put your hedge funds on hold
We'll get ours out and pray for ourselves.
Thought you were smart when you took Boris on,
But you didnt take a peep in their artillery room,
All that Bullingdon posturing puts hairs on your chest,
What chance have you got against a tie and a crest.

Hello-hurrah - what a nice day - for the Eton Tories,
Hello-hurrah - I hope rain stops play - with the Eton Tories, Eton Tories.

Thought you were clever when you went with Blair,
Tore down the house of commons in your brand new shoes,
Compose a revolutionary symphony with Prezza and Hazel Thingie,
But they went to bed with a charming young thing called Cameron.

Hello-hurrah - cheers then mate - its the Eton Tories,
Hello-hurrah - an extremist scrape - with the Eton Tories, Eton Tories.

What a catalyst you turned out to be,
Loaded the guns then you run off to David Cameron's party,
Left me standing - like a guilty (naughty) schoolboy with Brown and nothing else.

We came out of it naturally the worst,
Beaten and bloody and I was sick down my shirt,
We were no match for Boris' untamed wit,
Though some of the lads said theyll be back next week (we didn't believe it).

Hello-hurrah - theres a price to pay - to the Eton Tories,
Hello-hurrah - Id prefer the plague - to the Eton Tories.

Hello-hurrah - theres a price to pay - to the Eton Tories, Eton Tories.
Hello-hurrah - Id prefer the plague - to the Eton Tories.

Anonymous said...

Neither list has 'Thank you for the music' in it !

Anonymous said...


Most definitely

kinglear said...

Tom Harris-Thank you.
From the comments it's pretty clear to me that the Thank Yous for the Music are definitely there or thereabouts.
I had a cashier who was notoriously mean, who actually offered his weekly paypacket to someone to get him a ticket to see them live. I have never seen or heard of anything in percentage terms so extraordinarily spendthrift.

Anonymous said...

Knowing Me, Knowing You

The great lesson though, is we did not realise how good Abba were until they were gone. Like so much in life.

Anonymous said...

Left out was "Another train, Another town" and the superbly cheesy "So Long"

I was told once that there are two sorts of people in the world, Abba fans and liars.

Tobin posting at 4.34 is clearly a purist, I salute you, sir.

BTW - Great post Iain. Battering Nulab gets tedious - occasionally.

Anonymous said...

Trevorsden - That was funny!

Newmania said...

Come on what about Abba`s homage to tantric sex , "The Day Before You Came " geddit ?
Sparks , Abba ....Jeeez.. and they say there isn`t a gay gene.


May I thank “Liberally critical “ for his cunning parody of witless adolescent satire .Take a song and change the words so they say a bad thing about Conservatives duh hur duh hur duh hur .... It invites the reader both to pity and despise the “voice”


Anonymous said...

I cannot stand Dancing Queen, sorry, but SOS and Winner are def faves
freedom to prosper
PS Can we have more posts like this instead of Global Warming?

Anonymous said...


(Or do I detect the pen of that grand chap "Asquith" in yet-another guise?)

Paul Weller's socialist credentials have taken a few hits over the years but, to his credit, he managed to see through the whole "Luvvie / pop musician" love affair with Nu Labour.

Personally, I have plenty of respect for him. When he was playing my university, with The Jam and I was one of the back-stage student gophers, he gave me a packet of Rothmans (when I had run out of ciggies) and was as nice a person to deal with as you could hope for.

From what I read about him in recent times, I think he has more in common with Boris and "Dave" than even he would want to admit to.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just a bit too camp fer my tastes

LiberallyCritical said...

Lakelander - I've always adored and semi-worshiped Paul Weller, esp. his Style Council and more recent stuff but love The Jam too. Please don't take my little effort the wrong way - just trying to introduce my own humble efforts at humour into Dale's life!

Also I am nothing to do with Asquith, whomsoever he may be.

My age group (late-40s) tend to like Abba now but it was fashionable to loath them at the time. Similar things have happened to the Carpenters, Wings, Slade, and other "uncool" bands at the time. Some have gone the other way - Genesis for example. Even Peter Gabriel.

I think Abba will still be remembered in 50 years along with Mr Weller and the Beatles but probably not much else from our period.

Tapestry said...

Abba's music was so simple. no english band could have shown their faces writing such crap lyrics, but that made the melody so much easier, and catchy.

Anonymous said...

I listened to this today and ended up having an argument with my wife as I stated that that the only debate would be which of "Knowing Me..." or "SOS" would be number one. When SOS came in at 20 I gave up on the credibility of the whole programme.

Would anyone like to tackle a top 20 of the worlds greatest band, The Who?

Adrian said...

I agree with you about SOS, Iain, but I'm not sure about the other three. Maybe, like me, the compilers were biased against the later songs?

While you've been listening to Abba, I've been losing and retrieving my car:
Why can't politicians do something about stopping these cowboys from holding us to ransom??

Anonymous said...


My apologies for confusing you with that young blade "Asquith", though do please give him my regards if you chance upon him.

You raise a good point regarding what was / is cool.

I'm a real dyed-in-the-wool-Gabriel -era-Genesis fan but saw them in their 2007 line up at Old Trafford and they were just amazing.

Next weekend it's Paul McCartney at Anfield with the Kaiser Chiefs and the Zutons supporting. An interesting mixture of what was / is cool, wouldn't you say?

BTW - I do like Abba and have seen the one of the better tribute bands (Bjorn Again) on stage - they're very good.

Anonymous said...

'Winner Takes It All' is a classic song, even if you don't normally like Abba.

The guy was in tears when he wrote it and there are surely few people who have been through a divorce who can't identify with this song.

Anonymous said...


To put out the fire - and it needs putting out

This article just proves what a proll you can be. What did you say about Eurovision yesterday?

Here is my Abba Top ten:

- Euro-trash for wimps (hated it then, now its more like Eczema - a nasty rash that has cures that alleviate its worst symptoms)

Get the picture - crap mindless EU friendly band - crap mindless EU friendly pop.

Aka - Pop diarrohea

Personally the one thing I regret is that being an anti drug Conservative we will never hear the likes of Hendrix, Lennon, Townsend or Richard again.

Instead we gat more of the meaningless pop pap!

Rock On - Euro Pop Sucks!

Thank you for the music - go forth and multiply!

David Anthony said...

I can't wait to be middle-aged.. ;)

Anonymous said...


have you seen that idiot mcshanes article in the telegraph today?

could a defection be on the cards?

DiscoveredJoys said...

Although I enjoyed all the songs, after an hour or so I had to turn the radio off. I found that the style and beat of the songs, en masse, was too samey and repetitious.

Bit like the Labour Government really.

Croydonian said...

I didn't like them then, and don't like them now, but I do recommend the Leather Nun's version of 'Gimme'. Tis sort of high camp Goth, a la Sisters of Mercy.

Extract here.

Anonymous said...

Envouraging to find a level of support for 'Does your mother know' which, as long as you're not fussed by the Lolita-esque lyrics, has one of the most foot-tapping, get-up-and-dancing intros I know (and I'm 64!)

Anonymous said...

10. Thank you for the music
9. Eagle
8. Dancing queen
7. Waterloo
6. Take a chance on me
5. The name of the game
4. Money money money
3. Does your mother know
2. People need love
1. I do I do I do I do I do

Anonymous said...

My only (as ever) trivial comment on this is that even thirty+ years later, the band members don't appear to have changed much.

In Agnetha's case this is very welcome news.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Actually, Ian, the top 10 as counted down by Radio 2 were ABBA's Top 10 hits in the UK based on chart records. Dancing Queen was of course #1, staying at the top spot for 6 weeks. KMKY was #1 in the UK for 5 weeks, and so on. The chart doesn't reflect favorites or groundbreakers such as SOS, but it does reflect actual chart performance.

You can find the details of all ABBA records on various online sources linked from the Official ABBA Site.


Anonymous said...

I am in agreement with those who love the poignancy of "Thank you for the music". It reminds me of the ABBA of the 60s aka "The Seekers" with "The Carnival is Over".

John Trenchard said...

its so hard to pick a top ten , as they have so many fantastic pop songs.
but here goes...

10. So Long
9. Name of the Game
8. Cassandra
7. Dum Dum Diddle
6. Name of the Game
5. Dancing Queen
4. Super Trouper
3. Eagle
2. Chiquitita
1. Angel Eyes

John Trenchard said...

cant believe you left out "angel eyes" in your top ten iain. the chord changes in the melody, especially in the vocals, of that song are incredible.

but in any case, its darn hard to pick a top 10 when so many of the songs are superb...

Anonymous said...

The Radio 2 ABBA top 30 was based
on the Chart Positions of ABBA's UK Hit Singles.

'The Winner Takes it All' was at No.7 because it spent 2 Weeks at No.1 in 1980 - and several ABBA
Singles spent longer at No.1 than that - and all 6 of them are above

Anyhow, 'Winner' should be at No.9 in the R2 List.

It did this in the Top 10:,

9 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 4 - 8

'Mamma Mia' spent longer in the Top 5:,

3 - 3 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 5 - so that
should be 8th.

'Waterloo' should be 7th. Although it spent 5 Weeks in the Top 10 - to 6 Weeks each for 'Winner' & 'Mamma Mia' - it beats them because it managed 2 Weeks at No.2:,

2 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 6

'SOS' was not in the Top 10, because it only reached No.6 in
1975. 'Chiquitita' was not in the
Top 10 because it spent 2 Weeks at
No.2 in 1979. 'I Have a Dream' was
No.2 for 4 Weeks, between 1979 &
1980 - which is why it was higher
in the List than 'Chiquitita'.

The lower Positions in the R2
Top 30 were taken up by USA Top 30
ABBA Hits that were not UK Singles/
This was to make the List a Top 30 - as ABBA did not have 30 Hit
singles in the UK.

Songs like 'Move On', 'Tiger',
etc. were not in, because they were
Album Tracks. 'Eagle' was a Mid 1978 ABBA Single in several Continental European Countries, but Epic Records in the UK & Ireland, & Atlantic Records in the
USA & Canada, decided not to release it. So the UK etc. just got
a very long gap between 'Take A Chance On Me', & 'Summer Night City', in 1978. A silly decision!

Anonymous said...

BBC Radio 2 originally asked
The Official UK Charts Company to help with their ABBA Chart etc.
As I do a lot of work for The OCC, & they know I'm an ABBA Fan,
they asked me if I would help Radio 2.
However, by then Carl Magnus Palm,
(who writes ABBA Sleeve Notes, &
Books), had got an Australian Guy
- Trent Nickson - to contact Radio
2. Trent & I know each other. He is very good at ABBA Trivia.
Looking at the ABBA Top 30 again, I now see that it is not based soley on UK Chart Positions.
It is based on UK Sales, too.
This is why 'One Of Us' was at
No.11 in the Top 30, when it Peaked
at No.3 - yet it was ahead of 'Chiquitita', which Peaked at No.2.
'Super Trouper' did not do quite
as well, in the UK Top 10, as 'Take
A Chance On Me'.

'Super Trouper' (1980)

2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 4 - 5 - 5 - 8

'Take A Chance On Me' (1978)

10 - 2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 8

However, 'Super Trouper' was at
No.5 in the Top 30 - and 'Take A Chance On Me' was at No.6, because
'Super Trouper' outsold the 1978
Hit, by several thousand copies.

No.27 in the Top 30 was taken by 'So Long' - even though it failed to Chart in the UK, in 1974
It was placed at No.27, because it was the least successful of ABBA's 27 UK 'A' Sides.
'Eagle' was at No.28, because it
was ABBA's biggest European Hit, that was not a UK Single.
Then we have 2 USA Hits that were
not UK Singles - 'When All Is Said
& Done' - 2 Weeks at No.27 in 1982,
& 'Honey Honey' - 2 Weeks at No.27
in 1974.
ABBA released 26 UK Singles, but
Radio 2 got 27, by counting both
Sides of the 1979 No.3 Double 'A'
Side Hit - 'Angeleyes'/Voulez-Vous'
- which are No.16 & No.17 in the
Top 30,.
So, the Radio 2 Top 30 is SALES
based - NOT Position based, as I
mistakenly assumed.....