It was with much hesitation that I ordered a copy of this latest release in the Abba albums deluxe edition series.
The last three efforts (Voulez-Vous
& The Visitors
),save for their dvd's were very underwhelming to say the least.Especially The Visitors where a very heavy handed approach to the remaster seemed to rob the album of it's dynamic range and glorious digital soundstage.Why these three albums were deemed to need a remaster again for their respective deluxe reissues is not clear.Some fans didn't like the Henrik Jonsson masters first released in the 2005 box set "The Complete Studio Recordings
".These masters were also used for the "Number Ones
" compilation as well as the Deluxe Edition reissues of Arrival and Abba,The Album.Others like myself thought they were pretty good sounding masters.Whatever digital masters you prefer,it's irrelevant for their self titled third album.Unlike his work on "The Visitors",which I still have great difficulty listening to,Erik Broheden's master for "Abba" sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it(and this is it's fifth digital master if my memory is correct).There are no new/unreleased tracks however this new master for cd is an unexpected bonus I must say.
Five stars for the audio!
Onto the dvd,which is the main reason why an Abba fan would want to rebuy this album (again!) Just like the dvd with The Visitors Deluxe,the audio for this dvd has been mastered in low quality Dolby pro-logic 2.0(think fake surround sound),if you have a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker setup,most of the music will come through the centre channel.Why oh why would you release a music dvd in this bland and outdated audio format.If you can set your bluray or dvd player to downmix Dolby to PCM,I suggest you do so for this dvd.At least you'll get music out of your main left & right speakers.I took off a star for the very poor quality of the dvd's audio.
Finally making it's official release is the long sought after "Abba In Australia" tv special.Recorded in Oz right in the middle of Abba mania,it's unfortunately the overseas version of the show with all the local content such as studio interviews removed resulting in the beginning of some songs being cut off.They have replaced some cuts with location spots of the band holding various Australian wildlife and introducing songs but other edits are very abrupt and you get the feeling of a very disjointed show.While I'm disappointed that it's not the version shown on television in Australia,something is better than nothing and there's some great performances to playback including fan favourite "So Long".Whilst it's NOT the same tv special that I,along with millions of other Australians watched when first broadcast,it's a good re-edit of this locally produced programme.The rest of the dvd is made up of Abba's three segments from the "Made In Sweden - For Export" show and two very rare live/remixed performances of "SOS" and "Mamma Mia" for the BBC.Live Abba in any form is always enjoyable and the two songs released here are very good.This is followed by two period tv advertisement spots for "The Best of Abba",an Australian only release and "Greatest Hits" plus an international sleeve gallery.
Summing up there's some great content on the dvd and in my opinion we now have the best digital master of this "Breakthrough Album".Content wise,it's one of the best releases in Abba's Deluxe Edition series it just a shame about the lo-fi audio used to encode the dvd.
Thanks Abba.."....So Long,See Ya Honey!"