IN FOCUS // A Look At ABBA's 'Arrival' Album
Published on 27 August 2015
Over the coming months we're going to highlight various aspects of ABBA's career including an in-depth look at the individual studio albums (tracks and working titles, chart positions around the world, etc), ABBA live in concert, the costumes and much, much more. We're kicking off this monthly In Focus feature with a look at ABBA's 'Arrival' album, concidered by many fans to be the finest ABBA album of them all ...
Originally released in Sweden in October 1976 and a little over thirty-three minutes in duration, 'Arrival' was ABBA's fourth studio album. Recording sessions for 'Arrival' began in August 1975 and continued until September 1976 at Metronome and Glen studios in Stockholm, Sweden. 'Arrival' became ABBA's most successful album to date and included 'Dancing Queen', Money Money Money, and 'Knowing Me Knowing You', three of ABBA's biggest hits. 'Fernando', released as a single earlier the same year, did not appear on the original album release but the track was to be included on the South African, Australian, and New Zealand versions. 'Arrival' was the best-selling album of 1977 in the United Kingdom and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
'Arrival' was first released on CD in 1984 and then re-issued in digitally remastered form a total of four times, first in 1997, then in 2001, 2005 as part of 'The Complete Studio Recordings' box set, and again in 2006 (as a special Deluxe Edition).
By the time ABBA began working on their fourth album in August 1975, they had achieved a modest level of success around the world. It was with the 'Arrival' album however that they would achieve global superstardom to become the biggest name in the music business - a title they would hold for the rest of the decade. The first song to enter the studio was a track called 'Boogaloo' in August 1975. Taking inspiration from the current disco sound (and in particular George McCrae's 'Rock Your Baby') heavily present in the charts, the backing track was laid down. All four members remember hearing this for the first time and knew that they had something big on their hands, Agnetha Faltskog recalls "we knew immediately it was going to be massive". With re-written lyrics, the song became known as 'Dancing Queen' and would go on to become one of ABBA's biggest ever hits. Work on the song continued intermittently until December as the group's activities were increasing in the latter half of 1975 as they saw a sudden surge in popularity in the United Kingdom and Australia. During this time they also recorded 'Fernando', initially a track for Annifrid Lyngstad's solo album. Early in the new year, they decided to release it internationally as an ABBA song and with English lyrics the song became the group's next single in March 1976. 'Fernando' became ABBA's biggest hit to date, hitting No1 in many countries (including fourteen weeks at the top of the Australian charts). Also around this time ABBA's 'Greatest Hits' album was selling in huge amounts, becoming the biggest-selling album of the year in the UK. In the midst of all this promotion, ABBA finally found time to return to the studio in late March. The next song they began working on was 'Knowing Me Knowing You' which was to become yet another major hit all over the world. Member Benny Andersson has said that it is "one of our five best recordings".
By the end of April two other songs had been laid down entitled 'That's Me' and 'Why Did It Have to Be Me. The latter of these then became reworked into 'Happy Hawaii' before ultimately arriving back at its original title with completely different lyrics and member Bjorn Ulvaeus on lead as opposed to Agnetha or Frida ('Happy Hawaii' would later be released as a B-side). A similar situation occurred with the next recording when a song called 'Money Money Money' became 'Gypsy Girl' before reverting back to it's original title. 'Money Money Money' would also be released as a single and become a major hit some months after the album's eventual release.
During June, the group were invited by Swedish television to make a TV special dedicated to the group The programme entitled 'ABBA-dabba-dooo!' was filmed around the same time they were recording a song called 'When I Kissed The Teacher' which would become the opening track on their new 'Arrival' album. Late July saw the next two tracks 'Tiger' and 'Dum Dum Diddle' go into the studio. Considered by biographer Carl Magnus Palm as the "complete antithesis" of each other, the former being a hard rocker against the pure pop of the latter, Frida and Bjorn have both expressed dissatisfaction for the latter with Bjorn admitting that it was a nonsense lyric he'd come up with in desperation. The next song to be recorded for the album was an Agnetha lead titled 'My Love My Life'. Originally titled 'Monsieur Monsieur' and more upbeat, the song soon became a lush ballad with backing harmonies inspired by 10cc's hit 'I'm Not In Love'. It was also around this time 'Why Did It Have to Be Me' was completed as well as the album's lead single to be released internationally, 'Dancing Queen'.
The final track to be recorded was an instrumental song initially called 'Ode to Dalecarlia'. Featuring Benny Andersson prominently on keyboards, the song was soon renamed 'Arrival', a word that had already been decided on as the title of their new album. By September 1976 work on the album was finished just as 'Dancing Queen' was hitting No1 all over the world. The album cover shots were taken of the group posing in and out of a helicopter (a Bell 47) at the Barkarby airfield, northwest of Stockholm. The now-renowned "mirrored-B" ABBA logo (designed by Rune Söderqvist in 1976 and said to have been inspired by Benny) was also premiered on this album cover.
1) When I Kissed The Teacher
2) Dancing Queen
3) My Love My Life
4) Dum Dum Diddle
5) Knowing Me Knowing You
1) Money Money Money
2) That's Me
3) Why Did It Have To Be Me
RECEPTION & WORLDWIDE CHART SUCCESS
'Arrival' became a major seller all over the world no doubt thanks to the inclusion of 'Dancing Queen', 'Money Money Money' and 'Knowing Me Knowing You' (and in some territories 'Fernando' which in most markets had featured on their earlier 'Greatest Hits' album). 'Arrival' would top the album charts in Australia, Holland, New Zealand, Noway, the UK. West Germany and, of course, ABBA's native Sweden. There were additional top ten chart positions in Canada, France and Japan.
The track 'That's Me' (the b-side to 'Dancing Queen' when issued as a single here in the UK) was released as a single in Japan only in 1977.