In April 1974, 500 million television viewers across Europe witnessed the bizarrely thrilling sight of four garishly-dressed unknowns from Sweden storm their way to victory in the Eurovision Song Contest. The song was 'Waterloo'. Abba had arrived.
Over the next three decades, the band moved on through an almost unbroken succession of hit albums and singles. Abba have sold some 400 million records around the world, and their songs inspired a musical which since opening in April 1999 has been seen by more than 10 million people.
In Abba: Unplugged, Karl French, a journalist and author specialising in pop culture, brings his inimitable wry perception to bear on the band's whole story. Born in Sweden, and raised in England, he comes to the subject as someone with first-hand knowledge of the very particular background from which Abba emerged. He has been a fan - although not necessarily an uncritical one - for three decades.
The Abba saga is rich in ambition, kitsch, musical genius, bad hair and worse clothes. It also embraces liaisons, romantic and otherwise with - in no particular order of ill-advisedness - a Nazi officer, a stalker, a European prince, and Tim Rice.
Karl French has contributed articles on pop culture to many newspapers and magazines, among them Hot Dog and Esquire. He is also author and editor of numerous books on music and film. He is a TV previewer for the Financial Times and lives in London.First published in the UK November 2004
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