Summer Night City

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"Summer Night City"
Single by ABBA
from the album Greatest Hits Vol. 2
B-side "Medley"
Released 6 September 1978 (Sweden)
16 September 1978 (UK)
Format 7" single
Genre Pop, Europop, Disco
Length 3:34
Label Polar (Sweden)
Epic (UK)
Writer(s) Benny Andersson
Björn Ulvaeus
Producer(s) Benny Andersson
Björn Ulvaeus
Certification Silver (UK)
ABBA singles chronology
"Eagle"
(1978)
"Summer Night City"
(1978)
"Chiquitita"
(1979)
Music video
"Summer Night City " on YouTube

"Summer Night City" is a song recorded by the Swedish pop group ABBA, written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus as a tribute to their hometown of Stockholm. It is the group's second non-album single, released on 6 September 1978. It was originally intended as the lead single from the group's upcoming Voulez-Vous album, but was eventually not included. However, it was featured as a bonus track on the 1997 CD re-issue.

History[edit]

The recording sessions for "Summer Night City" began in early 1978. It had the working title "Kalle Sändare." ABBA's new recording studio, Polar Music Studio, had opened in May 1978, but had not been ready to use initially, so the primary backing track had been recorded at Metronome Studio. A 43-second ballad-style introduction to the song had been edited out to improve the overall quality, but nothing seemed to work. Allegedly, mixing the single took at least a week, far more than it took to mix any other track in ABBA's recording history. They felt something was wrong with the recording but couldn't put their finger on it. In the end, the song had an enormous amount of compression applied to it to give it a more "driving" sound.[1] Agnetha has been quoted as saying she didn't like the song to start with, as she felt "it wasn't ABBA" but later on grew to like it.[2] A reluctant ABBA decided to release "Summer Night City" as a single in September despite their disappointment with the track in its current form. The group still performed the song live on their 1979 world tour, though with the original introduction that had been removed from the studio recording. The unreleased version with the extended introduction was finally released as part of the box set Thank You for the Music.

Their ambivalence about the record has surfaced occasionally in interviews where Benny has said "we shouldn't have released that one", and Bjorn called the recording "really lousy".[1]

B-side: Medley [edit]

The single's B-side was a medley of the American traditional songs "Pick a Bale of Cotton", "On Top of Old Smokey", and "Midnight Special", which the group had recorded in 1975. This was the only song released by ABBA that was not written by any of the members themselves. On the single, "Medley" was actually a remix of the original 1975 version that had been issued on the German charity album Stars im Zeichen eines guten Sterns (Polydor). However, the 1978 mix is very similar, so much so that a mistake was made in the booklet notes of the 1994 4-CD boxed set Thank You for the Music. It turned out that the 1975 mix was included in that set but it was claimed to be the 1978 mix. The "Medley" mystery was allegedly solved when the UK single master tapes were returned by Epic Records to Polar Music in Sweden in the early 2000s. As the UK tapes had definitely included the 1978 mix, it then became possible to determine which mix was which. An explanation of this by ABBA expert Carl Magnus Palm appeared on his website.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Despite the group's negative views of the song, "Summer Night City" was another sizeable hit for ABBA, albeit not one of their biggest. It topped the charts in Ireland, Finland and Sweden; the group's last No.1 in their home country. It also reached the Top 5 in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Rhodesia and Switzerland. In the UK, "Summer Night City" reached No.7 in the charts and then dropped, which was ABBA's lowest peak position for three and a half years.[3] This caused concern for the group given that it was their first release after a seven-month break; the single however reached a new peak of No.5 the following week. Nevertheless, it remained ABBA's lowest-charting single in the UK for the period 1976-1980.[4] In October 1979, more than a year after its release, "Summer Night City" was included on the ABBA compilation album Greatest Hits Vol. 2.

"Summer Night City" makes small appearances in the musical Mamma Mia!. Samples from the song appear in scrambled "nightmare" form during the ent'racte, and is also scene change music between the songs "The Winner Takes It All" and "Take a Chance on Me."

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1978) Position
Australian Singles Chart 13
Austrian Singles Chart 18
Belgian Singles Chart 2
British Singles Chart 5
Canadian Singles Chart 34
Dutch Singles Chart 5
Eurochart Hot 100 1
Finnish Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 15
German Singles Chart 6
Irish Singles Chart 1
Japanese Singles Chart 24
Mexican Singles Chart 10
New Zealand Singles Chart 37
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
Rhodesian Singles Chart 4
Swedish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 5
Preceded by
"Three Times a Lady" by The Commodores
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
23 September 1978
Succeeded by
"One Day at a Time" by Gloria
Preceded by
"Skateboard" by Magnum Bonum
Swedish Singles Chart number-one single
6 October 1978 – 13 October 1978
Succeeded by
"You're The One That I Want" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
Preceded by
"You're The One That I Want" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
Eurochart Hot 100 Singles number-one single
12 October 1978
Succeeded by
"Summer Nights" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

Cover versions[edit]

  • Various eurotrance cover remixes by Abbacadabra were released through Almighty Records during the 1990s. The song was most recently included on the 2008 compilation We Love ABBA: The Mamma Mia Dance Collection. Audio samples can be heard on the official Almighty Records website.[5]
  • In 2001, the digipack edition of Swedish Symphonic metal band Therion's Secret of the Runes album contained their cover of this song. There is also a live version on their Live in Midgård album. They also produced a music video for the studio version of the cover.
  • In 2004, Swedish musician Nils Landgren covered the song on his album Funky ABBA from 2004.
  • In 2005, Israeli DJ Offer Nissim recorded a dance cover of "Summer Night City" on his album First Time. This version omits some of the original lyrics of the song and features singer Maya Simantov on vocals.
  • Dance versions of the song have been recorded by Angeleyes on their 1999 ABBAdance album, Jill Dreski, Astaire, Australian singer Donna Burke on the 2001 Japanese ABBA Ibiza Caliente Mix compilation, and DJ Ensamble on the 2006 album Trancing Queen.[6]
  • In 2009, Russian singer Roma Kenga released an English language eurotrance cover of the song.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b ABBA Bright Lights Dark Shadows by Carl Magnus Palm, Omnibus Press, 2001. Page 383. ISBN 0 7119 8389 5
  2. ^ ABBA - In Their Own Words, compiled by Rosemary York, 1981, page 70. Omnibus Press ISBN 0 86001 950 0
  3. ^ - week ending chart 30 September 1978]<http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/_/abba/
  4. ^ Official UK Charts - ABBA
  5. ^ "Abbacadabra – Summer Night City – Almighty Records". Almightyrecords.com. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Reviews". Eurodancehits.com. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 

External links[edit]