Doco re­mem­bers ABBA’s Aussie visit

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS -

JOHN Paul Young (JPY) once sang about hat­ing the mu­sic. At the same time he ad­mits to hav­ing a pro­fes­sional dis­like for the pop group ABBA. The rea­sons be­hind JPY’s frus­tra­tion with the Swedish sen­sa­tions seeps through in the ABC retro-doco ABBA: Bang A Boomerang.

Back in 1976, ABBA kept his sin­gle I Hate The Mu­sic in a hold­ing pat­tern at No. 2 with their block­buster Fer­nando, which held the top spot on the charts for 14 weeks.

Fer­nando’s success and Aus­tralia’s in­sa­tiable ap­petite for ev­ery­thing ABBA and the na­tion’s in­flu­ence in help­ing Mamma Mia reach in­ter­na­tional success, is re­traced in the doc­u­men­tary.

‘‘It (frus­tra­tion) was only pri­vately and qui­etly,’’ says JPY. ‘‘It was all light-hearted and in­su­lar. ‘‘There’s no bad news in any of this.’’ The doc­u­men­tary in­cludes in­ter­views with JPY, mu­sic guru Molly Mel­drum, pro­moter Michael Chugg, Swedish film di­rec­tor Lasse Hall­strom, who was in charge of ABBA’s early video mu­sic clips, and the band’s of­fi­cial bi­og­ra­pher Carl Mag­nus Palm.

Mel­drum’s weekly show Count­down was des­per­ate for videos when they re­ceived five qual­ity-pro­duced ABBA mu­sic clips from RCA records.

His first pick – I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do – topped the charts and sparked ABBA-ma­nia. The next was Mamma Mia, se­lected by an ABC staffer.

‘‘That ( Mamma Mia) we are def­i­nitely go­ing to use,’’ says Mel­drum.

With a smile Mel­drum says: ‘‘I never ad­mit­ted I liked ABBA be­cause I thought, ‘they’ll think I’m gay’.’’

Hall­strom says he worked with a bud­get of $2000 when he di­rected the ABBA clips and ex­plains the ba­sic tech­niques when film­ing the group.

‘‘There wasn’t much of a con­cept,’’ Hall­strom says dur­ing the doc­u­men­tary.

The hour-long pro­gram is nar­rated by Alan Brough, for­merly of the ABC’s Spicks and Specks mu­sic quiz show. ABBA fans will revel in the archival footage and the mem­o­ries of the era.

Queens­land fans of the su­per group may not have the same sweet mem­o­ries as ABBA by­passed the Sun­shine State on its 1976 tour.

The state’s then-pre­mier Joh BjelkePetersen tried to in­flu­ence the group to change their mind – at the same time let­ters of scorn about ABBA flooded Bris­bane’s news­pa­per The Courier Mail.

JPY at­tributes ABBA’s early success to not only their mu­sic but to the qual­ity of the videos pro­duced.

ABBA’s songs rock­eted up the charts once their mu­sic videos started fea­tur­ing on Count­down.

Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, ABC1.

ABBA’s Benny An­der­s­son, Agnetha Falt­skog, Anni-Frid Lyn­gstad and Bjorn Ul­vaeus.

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