MAMMA MIA! HOW CAN I RESIST YOU? THE INSIDE STORY OF MAMMA MIA! AND THE SONGS OF ABBA Hardcover – 20 Sep 2006
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The story of the songs of ABBA.
The story of a double phenomenon: the group who reinvented the world's perception of pop music in the 1970s, and the show based around their hits which became an entertainment industry legend in its own right, opening in 85 cities and seen by over 20 million people. Through the stories, recollections and reflections of ABBA, intertwined with the commentary and observations of the MAMMA MIA! team, this book cuts through the thicket of myths and misconceptions that have grown up around ABBA to reveal what actually happened.See all Product description
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Much of the book is devoted to the songs and their history. Interesting as this is, it is frustrating on one level because only the songs finally used in the musical are discussed. Perhaps another book could be compiled that gives this information for all their popular songs, whether or not they were used in the musical, but since this a book about the musical, we can`t complain about the omission of the other songs. Of the songs mentioned, some of the comments are fascinating.. I didn`t know that Name of the game was actually written about a woman in a psychiatrist`s chair - Bjorn had written the lyrics for a scene in Abba - the movie. In his comments, Benny said that the song wasn't a big hit anywhere, but everybody's entitled to the occasional mistake; it was one of Abba's number one hits in Britain. On the subject of Honey honey, it appears that Abba wanted this to be released as the follow-up to Waterloo, but their British record label (unlike their labels in some other countries) decided to go instead with Ring ring. Honey honey then became a top ten UK hit for Sweet dreams, while Ring ring was a minor Abba hit. After that debacle, Abba took much greater interest in what their record labels were doing with their music.
The rest of the book covers the history of the musical from Judy's idea to reality, with success way beyond expectations. Catherine Johnson, a single mother of two children who struggled to make ends meet, became the playwright. The book explains some of the problems involved in development. Catherine says that there were some songs that she would have liked to include, particularly Fernando, but they just wouldn't fit into the story she planned to write. As the project developed and the script changed, some songs were dropped and others added. Lyrics were sometimes tweaked to make them more suitable for the story, but not in any substantive way. This process continued right up to a few days before the official launch, when an opening sequence was abandoned. There were plenty of other problems too, but the success of the musical around the world shows that they were all overcome. Yet even after its successful launch in London, there were other problems involved in going global. I get the impression that its creators would have been content to allow it run for longer in Britain before going global, but the pressure came from outside. Other countries wanted to stage the musical too and this presented new challenges.
This is an entertaining book that will obviously interest Abba's fans, but because it provides an insight into what went on behind the scenes, may also interest people who are interested in theatrical productions generally.