De Forsta Aren

This was a really good purchase. First, the price: normally Red Eye Records in Sydney is reasonably expensive, but I picked this up for $149.00 which is favourably comparable with what is currently available over the internet. Second, the collection: I’d never collected the early works of Agnetha Faltskog and so this was both a musical education and an addition to the already bloated ABBA-related collection that I have.

There are some aspects of the work that I love and some aspects that I loathe. First, I really loathe some of Agnetha’s early works. In some respects, some of this work is similar to the early Olivia Newton-John inspired folk songs, although not as good. Although Agnetha Faltskog Volume I has some wonderful moments, probably reflective of her naivete as a solo performer, by Volume II she’s wanders off into record-company directed schlock that would have failed to gain a place in the Eurovision Song Contest. Think bad 1960s variety television shows! One track, “Lek med dina dockor” sounds like “It’s Not Unusual” (Tom Jones), though it never quites get there. Another track called, “Som en vind kom du till mig” is inspired, I think, by “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” though it never actually completes the melody line. So, in my view, forget some of the earlier works, although there are tracks here and there that are quite good.

The best this collection has to offer is the CD, “Elva kvinnor i ett us” (Eleven Women In A House), Agnetha’s Swedish-language solo album released in 1975 as it has encompasses both the pop sensibilities of ABBA and the Swedish sensibilities of Agnetha’s work. The album is a “concept work” that was quite popular at the time with Agnetha describing a house in which there were eleven different women living, metaphorically referring to the different personalities of, perhaps, herself. The actual house featured on the cover has become a popular tourist attraction for ABBA fans as they visit Stockholm!

I especially love tracks like “Visa i attonde manaden” as it’s a song that “goes somewhere” with its pop refrain of “la la la” never beginning to grate. There’s actually one moment in the song that I’m sure Madonna has picked up in her song, “Oh Father”. The CD also contains a couple of Swedish-language ABBA songs, with Agnetha covering Swedish versions of “SOS” and “Dissilusion”. This is the kind of album that, if recorded in English, and had Agnetha had an “English sounding name” could have gained her a great deal of credibility. It’s a great album!

In addition to the solo albums, there’s also an additional CD which contains some interesting rarities from Agnetha’s career. A particular favourite is “Nu ska du bli stilla” which is Agnetha’s version of “Everything’s Alalign=”right” from Jesus Christ Superstar in which she played Mary Magdalene in the Swedish production.

Released just months after her first solo CD in seventeen years, this comes at an opportune moment, but this is really only for serious collectors.

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