Can you hear the cash registers Fernando? By Mark Alchin

ABBA are a phenomenon. There’s no way around that statement. In Oz they have sold more records than anybody, ever. In England their Greatest Hits set was the biggest seller of last year. In America Dancing Queen crashed the Top 10.

If they break in America as big as they have in England and here they will be the biggest pop act ever in terms of sheer popularity.

The major reason for their success is their appeal to a considerably larger audience than most previous pop phenomenons. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Monkeys, The Bay City Rollers, etc. etc. all had/have immense followings over a number of age brackets but a certain age or type of group always stood out as more enthusiastic.

ABBA are worshipped equally by people from three upwards most of whom are attracted to their clean image and ‘nice’ songs. In fact I was listening to a journalist talking to his five year old daughter who had accompanied him to ABBA’s Sydney press conference. Someone asked her why she liked ABBA and her reply was “because they’re clean and they sing nice songs.” An eighty-year-old grandmother would give the same reply.

The press conference found everyone being extra nice and polite. A few times the questions got slightly political or social but then some ABBA-happy journo would pop another mind blower like ‘Why did you write Bang-A–Boomerang?’ or ‘Is it true you have an award for having the sexiest bum in Europe?’ thus bringing the whole thing back to fan rave level.

After all, we’re not meant to find out what the real ABBA are like (someone actually asked the question and got “Just like you” as a reply). Benny could be a foot fetishist and Agnetha could be a member of the Linda Lovelace fan club and what would that do to their record sales?

The most interesting part of the press conference came when a reporter asked the umpteenth question about money and the band actually appeared quite pissed off by it all.

Finally, to curb all the money, money, money questions Benny (the one with the beard) said, “We know it exists but we didn’t expect it. All we can do is try to keep writing our music and having fun.”

“The day it stops being fun,” concluded Björn (the one without the beard), “will be the day we quit.” Hmmm, no chance of this lot becoming, egomaniacal, narcissistic rock star prima donnas.

One brave soul ventured to ask a ‘heavy’ question (no, it wasn’t your faithful RAM reporter – I was saving mine ‘till the last minute for impact) about drugs and whether the band (well, they are a band after all) would ever put social issues into one of their songs.

“We are against the misuse of drugs and alcohol,” said Björn seriously. “If we came up with a song like that and the time was suitable we would perhaps record it. If we could help.”

I don’t think the world’s quite ready for ‘ABBA goes introspective’ just yet.

Regardless of what I, or any other detractors, think of ABBA - there is definitely a place, even a need for them in the music industry and how many punters can truthfully claim never to have hummed, whistled or tapped out an ABBA tune?

Some cal it brainwashing, some call it talent, others call it a social phenomenon - whatever it is it’s unfortunately here for a long time to come.

Oh yeah, almost forgot my mind blowing question. It was gonna be the scandal of the century, it would shock nice people everywhere, it would send the gathered clique of respectable newsmen and women rushing for the cotton wool. Yes, ABBA’s sex life would hopefully be revealed for all to hear.

Now, here comes the microphone. I stand up calmly and…oh, the MC cuts me off.

“I’m sorry that’s all we have time for…The press kit will answer any further questions, thank you.

The press kit didn’t answer my questions but, maybe I can get The Runaways to reveal their sexual habits when they tour in May.

Maybe. Transcribed for ABBA World

Photo: “Somebody has sent us something called a RAM dartboard and asked us to hold a black mass for someone called Paul Gearside. Explain please??”

RAM (Australia) · 8 April 1977 (Page 9)

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