This is a strange little compilation. It doesn't quite live up to it's name and as three of the tracks are performed in a different language, they can hardly be counted twice! Maybe I'm nit-picking because as a budget collection, it's not that bad and in terms of "hits", those included are nothing short of great. A few years ago the different language versions would have been considered rare and thought of as bonus tracks. But now with practically every recorded ABBA track available somewhere or other, the obscure songs such as the german "Ring Ring" and the french "Waterloo" are not considered unique anymore. Just about all of their output can stand up in a "Hits" compilation now. ABBA are just known for being great. The fact that there was nine british number ones, different choices for singles in various world territories, or an occasional bigger hit recorded by another artist (E.g. "Honey Honey" top ten in '74 by Sweet Dreams), doesn't matter anymore: it's all like one huge hit. Therefore any compilation has validation. By 2020 though, that idea may have worn a bit thin suggesting compilation titles such as "ABBA's hits beginning with the letter "S" or "Songs before the divorces" and "Hits with one word titles!" So popular are ABBA now and always, there will always be an excuse at least once a year for another compilation to remind us of this and to keep the record company happy in lue of there ever being any new material.
Some technical "nerdy" notes to add for the die-hards in comparing the smorgasboard of versions now available. Firstly this collection has been remastered by ABBA engineer Michael B. Tretow and Jon Astley, who in my opinion have created the best remastered versions, producing a much "wider" mix and allowing more instruments to be audible. Also these mixes afford the tracks that fade out to be slightly longer, e.g the version of "Fernando" has another "yes if I had to do the same again" before the fade ends; and the same on "Lay all your Love..." boasting more of the synthesiser overlays at the very end than the current mix by Masters of Audio, who apart from premature fading, seem to lean heavily on a more meatier, base-ier mix, sacrificing some of the more finer, subtle sounds like the flutes and pan pipes on "Fernando" and the acoustic guitars on "The Winner Takes it all".
With regards to the different language versions, again for the anoraks who no-doubt know this: "Honey Honey" (Swedish version) has different backing vocals throughout and a slightly different string arrangements. "Waterloo" (French version) has an extra note added on the intro and the girls' pronounciation of the title with a cod-french accent is adorable! Finally, the ill-titled "Dame.../Gimme Gimme Gimme" (Pronounced "Dameee") has a lot more percussion pervading the entire mix and a different bridge before the instrumental break, which is also subtlier different boasting a more "funkier/percussive base-line. Instrumentally and production style, this version is much better than the original: it has a more urgent, tighter feel to it, heavily benefiting the genre of the song.
So there's my review: to add to anyone remotely interested in ABBA and their sound, I believe that they were a lot more than successful pop band that was portrayed in the seventies. Technical wizzardry and sublime, exotic, hypnotic pop anhems have ultimately stood the test of time and won the day; and still do, their production never dating or sounding old.
Probably the best collection, yet to be topped is "The Definitive Collection" which can guarantee you every comercial hit including their only 12" remix and an alternative version of an early hit. By far outstripping the mighty giant selling "ABBA Gold" which is far from being complete, or accurate, (Depending where in the world you live). But that leads us to another compelation (More A.G) which is another story and incites another debate! Abba Gold: Special EditionThe Definitive CollectionMore ABBA Gold