29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Money, Money, Money,
This review is from: The Complete Studio Recordings [9CD + 2 NTSC DVD] (Audio CD)
You know it must be hard to be a die-hard ABBA fan. Scraping every last penny in your piggy-bank so that you can rush out every now & then to get the latest issue of official booty from the Swedish Fab 4, even though you may already have 4 copies of it in your collection. Luckily, I'm not a die-hard but I'm a big enough fan to admire their classic work during the 70s and early 80s to the extent that I am interested in hearing unreleased offcuts from the many studio sessions that make up this box set. However, in an era where 'deluxe' editions of classic albums have a slew of unreleased material tagged on as extras, ABBA - still one of the biggest selling acts on the planet - have been noticebly quiet on this front.
In 1994 ABBA released the magificent 4 CD set 'Thank You For The Music' which was as good example of a career overview that you could get by any artist. So good, I gave it a 5 star review on Amazon as 'the best ABBA compilation yet...and then some'. It had a handful of rare and unreleased tracks including some brief runthroughs of songs that the band didn't really gel with and - prior to the set - had been left to rot in the cans. Some fans sniffed at this 'undeleted medley' and demanded full versions of each song used be issued but I for one was glad to hear any snippet of ABBA working in the studio so, I rather enjoyed it.
Of course since hearing that 20 minute snippet many years ago I've found out that there have been a number ABBA studio bootlegs circulating for a while hinting at a lot more unissued studio material in the can and yet every 5 or six years when a new re-issue programme pops up, the same old non-LP tracks keep re-appearing as 'bonuses' on each CD. Even if you are someone who has just got one of their many compilations as their first ABBA CD, some of these bonuses would be utterly pointless (e.g. 'Arrival' has 'Fernando' which has appeared on 'Gold', 'The First 10 Years' etc etc). Imagine how even more frustrating it for the fan who - though dying to hear something 'new' - ends up forking out for yet more bonuses he/she already has....several times over. Although sonic upgrades are welcome, some fans (like me) don't always splash out the spondoolicks just to buy the latest version of a much-loved album simply for its slightly more improved sound - they want a bit more!
To be fair to ABBA and Polar, it seems though that they HAVE got it right with their DVDs....well mostly. 'The Definitive Collection' trumps both 'Gold' sets and the 'In Concert' & 'The Movie' DVDs are very welcome indeed. As is the excellent 'Waterloo' DVD EP that came with the 30th Anniversary album re-issue (featuring their winning 1974 Eurovision performance!). All very good so let's not dwell on the embarrasing manner in which the original 'Winner Takes It All' documentary was re-hashed rather poorly into the 'Super Troupers' DVD (okay, yes, it was nice to see the 're-union' footage but I liked the original longer docu WITHOUT Pete Waterman!). If they can get it right with making material from their video vaults available why can't the guys do the same with their studio tapes and add a few unreleased tracks to entice the weary fan who has heard everything ad infinitum.
Anyway, back to the review...if you enjoyed 'Gold' or 'The
Definitive Collection' and would love to treat yourself to the entire set of albums in one go, then this is for you. I cannot possibly argue with some of the music here as it's timeless which is why less than 3 stars would be rather cruel. Yes, it has a DVD of a previously unissued 1981 live TV performance and, yes, a handful of rarities not seen on CD before but would I want to fork out £90 for those few goodies when I have all the rest? No, is the short answer.
It's a rich man's world, eh?