Believe it or not, there are some of us who have never bought an Abba album. Well, not until this week, anyway. I was certainly around during the 70s, but fell into the category of being far too serious about Deep Purple etc to be seen dead with an Abba LP. I was certainly aware of Abba -- it was one of the many contradictions in the teenage bloke psyche that we watched 'Top of the Pops' whenever we could. And anyway, my Dad fancied the blonde one -- Agnetha, not Benny. So buying this marvellous compilation is part nostalgia, and part demonstration for my own children. This 2CD set takes us chronologically through Abba's history. There are four tracks which precede the historic 'Waterloo' Eurovision winner. You can sense that the group are still feeling their way towards a defining formula even after that 1974 victory. To my ear, it's only when they created 'SOS' (track #9 here) that they found the correct gear, and from then on they never looked back. Abba stood for very high production values, attractive videos, middle-of-the-road pop and wholly inoffensive lyrics. (As revealed in the sleevenotes, Bjorn was always more concerned with the sound of a word than its meaning.) From that point, the lead vocals on all the singles would always be performed by the girls. Abba absorbed disco, but never pretended to be creating black music. My favourite Abba song is one of the last, 'One of Us', which has many flaws but a gorgeously plaintive chorus. Agnetha really meant those words as she sang them on the video. It was 1981, the band was nearing the end, and even I fancied her now. To people who haven't already purchased an Abba CD, I cannot recommend this highly enough. The remastered sound is excellent, bringing out the acoustic guitar particularly well. And the accompanying booklet is informative and contains some pretty photos, without ever saying which is of Bjorn and which is of Benny. Newcomers like me can get confused, but I guess it doesn't ultimately matter.