Greatest Hits (ABBA album)

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Greatest Hits
ABBA - Greatest Hits (Polar).jpg
Greatest hits album by ABBA
Released 17 November 1975 (1975-11-17)
Recorded March 1972–March 1975
Genre Pop
Length 48:00
Label Polar (Sweden)
Epic (UK)
Atlantic (US)
Universal Music (2006 reissue)
Producer Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus
ABBA chronology
ABBA
(1975)
Greatest Hits
(1975)
Arrival
(1976)
Alternative cover
UK/North American Cover
Singles from Greatest Hits
  1. "Fernando"
    Released: March 27, 1976 (UK)
    April 12, 1976 (Sweden)
    September 4, 1976 (US)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Robert Christgau C+[1]

Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was originally released in Scandinavia on 17 November 1975[2] and in other parts of the world in 1976, notably the UK, the US and Canada. The 1976 versions of the album added the group's most recent single at the time, "Fernando", which did not appear on any of ABBA's studio albums in Europe or North America.

The album was released in response to similar ABBA compilation albums being issued at the time by record labels in other countries who had licensed ABBA's music for release in their own territories, and the threat of import sales of those compilations impacting upon ABBA's home market. This meant that the success of Greatest Hits was largely confined to Scandinavia, the UK, and North America, although the size of the latter two markets and the scale of its success there has ensured that Greatest Hits is one of ABBA's best-selling albums worldwide.

Background[edit]

ABBA had won the Eurovision Song Contest in April 1974 with the song "Waterloo", which went on to be a major hit across Europe and in Australia and New Zealand. However, the immediate follow-up singles did not meet with the same success, and it wasn't until over a year later that "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do", "SOS" and "Mamma Mia" became worldwide hits and reignited interest in the band. To capitalise on this resurgence of interest, several labels around the world released their own licensed compilations of ABBA's singles up to and including "Mamma Mia" – these included a similarly-titled Greatest Hits by France's Disques Vogue, and The Best of ABBA, released by West Germany's division of Polydor Records and by RCA Victor in Australia and New Zealand. To counteract the possibility of import sales from these records in Scandinavia, ABBA's record label Polar Music rush-released their own version of Greatest Hits.[2]

Release[edit]

The tracks were taken from ABBA's first three studio albums, Ring Ring, Waterloo and ABBA, and with the exception of "Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)" had all been released as singles somewhere in the world. Despite the title of the compilation, only half of the tracks had actually charted as hit singles in major territories. "Waterloo", "SOS", "Mamma Mia" and (later) "Fernando" were top 10 hits in the UK and several other countries, though only the first of these was a top 10 hit in the US. Other hits in multiple territories included "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" (a top 10 hit in several countries, a number one in Australia, and a top 20 hit in the US, though barely cracking the top 40 in the UK), "Honey Honey" (a top 20 hit in several countries and a top 30 hit in the US), "Hasta Mañana" (a top 10 hit in South Africa and New Zealand and a top 20 hit in Australia), and "So Long" (a top 20 hit in Germany and a top 10 hit in Sweden). On the North American version of the album "Hasta Mañana" was omitted and the other tracks were reordered. Ironically, in Australia, where several of the tracks had reached number one, the release of Greatest Hits was beaten to the market by the RCA Victor compilation The Best of ABBA, precluding a release there for years. Nevertheless, the official greatest hits package was an enormous success. Even Rolling Stone, often one of ABBA's harshest critics in the US, declared of the album, "Anyone who could listen to this record five times and not wind up humming half the songs is an android".[3]

Polar's version of Greatest Hits reached number one in Sweden and in Norway,[4][5] but lost out in sales over much of the rest of Europe and in Australia and New Zealand to the already released rival compilations. However, it had no competition in the UK and in North America, and the UK version of the album was released in April 1976. In the five-month period between the releases of the Scandinavian and UK versions of Greatest Hits, ABBA had achieved their second consecutive (and third overall) UK number-one single with "Fernando", and this song was added to the UK version of the album, as well as to a reissued version in Norway and Denmark. The release of Greatest Hits coincided with the start of ABBA's huge popularity in the UK during the latter half of the 1970s, becoming the first of eight consecutive number-one albums for the group. It spent eleven non-consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Albums Chart and went on to become the best-selling album of 1976[6] and the second best-selling album of the 1970s.[7] As of July 2016 it is the 46th best-selling album of all time in the UK,[8] with sales of over 2.6 million.[9]

Greatest Hits was released in the US and in Canada in September 1976, but sales of the record did not peak until April 1977, when the song "Dancing Queen" reached number one in both countries. "Dancing Queen" was not included on Greatest Hits, but it was the lead single from the new studio album Arrival and it had generated interest in ABBA's back catalogue. Greatest Hits has been certified platinum in the US[10] and quintuple platinum in Canada.[11]

Artwork[edit]

The album was issued with two different gatefold covers, depending upon the territory. The painting on the original Scandinavian release was by artist Hans Arnold and had originally been awarded as a prize by Swedish magazine VeckoRevyn to celebrate ABBA being voted "Artists of the Year".[2] The artwork was also used on the European-wide "30th Anniversary Edition" CD reissue, in a miniature replica gatefold album sleeve.

In the UK, North America and some other territories, the cover features a photograph taken by Bengt H. Malmqvist of the group sitting on a park bench on an autumn day.[12] Benny and Frida are kissing, while Björn reads a paper and Agnetha looks straight into the camera. The image was used as the inner gatefold picture on the Scandinavian versions. It was also used on the US CD reissue by Atlantic Records in the 1980s, but without the track listing on the front.

Appearances in other media[edit]

The British/American version of the album sleeve appears in the popular 2015 science-fiction film The Martian, when the husband of the disco-loving ship commander Melissa Lewis (played by Jessica Chastain) reveals on a video link that he has found an original vinyl copy of the album. The track "Waterloo" also features prominently on the film's soundtrack.[13]

Track listing[edit]

European version[edit]

Side one
  1. "SOS" (Benny Andersson, Stig Anderson, Björn Ulvaeus) – 3:22
  2. "He Is Your Brother" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:17
  3. "Ring Ring" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus, Neil Sedaka, Phil Cody) – 3:03
  4. "Hasta Mañana" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 3:09
  5. "Nina, Pretty Ballerina" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 2:52
  6. "Honey, Honey" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 2:55
  7. "So Long" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:06
Side two
  1. "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 3:15
  2. "People Need Love" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 2:43
  3. "Bang-A-Boomerang" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 3:02
  4. "Another Town, Another Train" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:10
  5. "Mamma Mia" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 3:32
  6. "Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:05
  7. "Waterloo" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 2:42
  8. "Fernando" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 4:15 (UK version only)
  • Note: the original UK release of Greatest Hits featured the addition of the recent number-one single "Fernando" as the album's final track – early pressings of the album do not include the song on the track listing on the sleeve and a sticker was placed on the cover to advertise its inclusion. The original 1975 Scandinavian releases do not feature "Fernando" – the album was reissued in 1976 in Norway and Denmark with the addition of "Fernando" as the first track on side one. The 2006 30th anniversary edition CD of Greatest Hits features the same 15-track running order as the 1976 Norway/Denmark reissue.

North American version[edit]

Side one
  1. "SOS" (Benny Andersson, Stig Anderson, Björn Ulvaeus) – 3:22
  2. "He Is Your Brother" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:17
  3. "Ring, Ring" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus, Neil Sedaka, Phil Cody) – 3:03
  4. "Another Town, Another Train" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:10
  5. "Honey, Honey" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 2:55
  6. "So Long" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:06
  7. "Mamma Mia" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 2:54
Side two
  1. "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 3:15
  2. "People Need Love" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 2:43
  3. "Waterloo" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 2:42
  4. "Nina, Pretty Ballerina" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 2:52
  5. "Bang-A-Boomerang" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 3:02
  6. "Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)" (Andersson, Ulvaeus) – 3:05
  7. "Fernando" (Andersson, Anderson, Ulvaeus) – 4:15

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[11] 5× Platinum 600,000[18]
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[19] Platinum 64,875[19]
Germany (BVMI)[20] Gold 250,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[21] Platinum 20,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[22] Gold 25,000*
Sweden (GLF)[23] Platinum 293,163[24]
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] 8× Platinum 2,606,000[9]
United States (RIAA)[10] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Greatest Hits". Robert Christgau. 
  2. ^ a b c Palm, Carl Magnus (2006). Greatest Hits (30th Anniversary Edition) (booklet). ABBA. Polar Music. 987 715-6. 
  3. ^ Rockwell, John (23 March 1978). "Review: Abba – The Album". Rolling Stone. No. 261. 
  4. ^ a b "Norwegiancharts.com – Abba – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
  5. ^ a b "Swedishcharts.com – Abba – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
  6. ^ a b "Top 50 Albums of 1976". Music Week. 25 December 1976. p. 4. 
  7. ^ a b "Albums of the 70's". Music Week. 22 December 1979. p. 15. 
  8. ^ Copsey, Rob (4 July 2016). "The UK's 60 official biggest selling albums of all time revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Myers, Justin (12 July 2016). "The greatest of the greatest: the UK's official Top 10 biggest hits collections revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "American album certifications – Abba – Greatest Hits". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  11. ^ a b "Canadian album certifications – Abba – Greatest Hits". Music Canada. 
  12. ^ Palm, Carl Magnus (2014). Abba: Bright Lights, Dark Shadows (3rd ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78305-359-9. 
  13. ^ http://www.hitfix.com/news/heres-what-the-martian-author-had-to-say-about-those-book-to-movie-changes
  14. ^ "Top Albums" (PHP). RPM. Vol. 27 no. 4. 23 April 1977. p. 25. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  15. ^ "Abba | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart
  16. ^ "Abba – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Abba.
  17. ^ "Top 100 albums of '77" (PHP). RPM. Vol. 28 no. 14. 31 December 1977. p. 15. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  18. ^ "Abba: The World". Billboard. 8 September 1979. p. ABBA-8.  ("Abba: 5 Years" supplement)
  19. ^ a b "Abba" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. 
  20. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Abba; 'Greatest Hits')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  21. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1978". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  22. ^ "Abba: 5 Years" supplement, Billboard, 8 September 1979. p. ABBA-30.
  23. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  24. ^ "Abba: 5 Years" supplement, Billboard, 8 September 1979. p. ABBA-38.
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Abba – Greatest Hits". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Greatest Hits in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search