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ABBA / The Complete Recording Sessions: Revised and Expanded

ABBA_complete

Twenty years after the first edition was published, author Carl Magnus Palm is planning a comprehensively revised and expanded version of his ABBA Complete Recording Sessions book.

For the original edition, the author had access to written documentation and tape boxes etc. and the cooperation of ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, but crucially only had limited opportunity when it came to hearing the actual audio archive, which at that time was still only accessible via the 24-track multi-track tapes.

These days everything is now available in digital form, and Palm – with the encouragement and support of Polar Music International/Universal Music and Björn and Benny – can revisit those tapes and spend as long as he needs listening to alternate takes, and understanding the development of the recordings of classic pop songs such as Dancing Queen, The Winner Takes It All and Mamma Mia.

ABBA_complete2

The new edition of ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions will be re-written from the ground up and will offer 

  • • More facts and stories about ABBA’s recorded work: released as well as unreleased songs, alternate takes and alternate mixes
  • • More observations and insights into the writing of the songs
  • • More detailed info from Björn and Benny
  • • More comments from other people who were involved in ABBA’s recordings
  • • More reflections on the completed albums and singles

In fact, this new volume will be about 400 to 500 pages long, compared to the 128 pages of the first edition.

Carl Magnus Palm is self-financing this project through a Kickstarter campaign with a provisional publication date of late 2016. If you like what you hear in terms of this new edition of ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions then head over to campaign page and back this project.

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42 responses to ABBA / The Complete Recording Sessions: Revised and Expanded

  1. DJ Control says:

    Wow! My original copy is so in need of replacing. I can’t wait for a new edition. Maybe we’ll get some more music as well?

  2. Stefano says:

    For years the first 1994 edition was the most important guide to the ABBA catalogue ever written. This second edition will completely overshadowing that one.
    The updated version needs to be released, but time is ticking: the crowdfunding campaign will run between 28 January and 28 February, 2015. So hurry up and go pledge yourselves!

  3. John says:

    I’d love to pledge but a “network error” continued to occur… sorry, missed opportunity

  4. Daniel says:

    I will not read about alternate versions, alternative takes
    and unreleased material of ABBA if I have not the opportunity
    to hear those rarities. Sorry.
    Mr.Palm: Tell B&B that most of the fans will hear ABBA rarities
    and not dreaming about things they’ll never released in music.
    ABBA should first released the “Chiquitita” / “In The Arms Of Rosalita” / “Chiquitita Rosalina” Medley that was planned for Deluxe Edition
    of “Voulez-Vous” in 2010 but withdrawn.

  5. Mark Walton says:

    I can’t wait for this new edition and wish Carl a Magnus great success with his campaign. I’ve already pledged and am trying to spread the word on various forums. Pity that Daniel above can’t be more positive…

  6. James Blair says:

    Whilst it will be slightly torturous to read about alternative takes & mixes that we can’t actually hear, I’m still curious enough to pledge! I’m sure it will be a fascinating read. SOLD!
    The CD is less tempting to me as I’m not that interested in hearing other people sing Abba’s songs over their original backing tracks. Now, a CD of instrumentals would have been a different matter entirely…!

  7. Steve Foster says:

    Thanks for drawing people’s attention to this Paul. Carl Magnus is a great bloke. A true ABBA fan and someone who has really worked hard to get unreleased/rare material made available to the fans via the Box Sets, re-releases and the Deluxe Editions. The original book has become “The Bible” in terms of what was recorded, what wasn’t, what was finished, what wasn’t, what was released and what was left unissued. This new, greatly expanded edition of “The Complete Recording Sessions” promises to reveal even more than the original book did and can surely, only pave the way to Carl Magnus unearthing and drawing the former ABBA members attention to other rare and unreleased Demo’s and studio recordings that may, at some point, get approval for inclusion on future ABBA releases. I myself have pledged to Level 2 (so that I’ll get a copy of the new book plus the Bonus CD that is being prepared especially for inclusion with the Book) and am very much hoping the crowdfunding campaign is a success and that the new book gets released.

    Daniel – the only unreleased recording that I am aware of that was considered for inclusion on the Voulez-Vous Deluxe Edition was “Just a Notion”, but again, it was left off either because its inclusion was vetoed by the former ABBA members or for other reasons unknown.

    The “Chiquitita Story” Demo Medley (to give it its propper title) was an idea suggested by Mikey Tretow to Benny & Bjorn when the “Thank You For The Music” Box Set was being prepared for release in 1994. It was vetoed and the (far more interesting) “ABBA Undeleted” Medley was then prepared and included in its place.

    If you’re going to criticise the former ABBA members or Mr Palm, you would do well to get your facts right or else risk looking like yet another ranting, slightly unhinged, overly obsessive ABBA fan – the kind that (not surprisingly) make Benny & Bjorn feel very uncomfortable and simply cause the former ABBA members to want to stay as far away from any meaningful and balanced discussion of their work (unreleased or otherwise) as possible!

    That aside – good luck Carl Magnus! :-)

    • DAVID CARROLL says:

      Exactly. ..some people forget that Bjorn and Benny (and in that order) exert absolute control over what comes out …and good on ’em! You can’t fault Abba for a lack of quality cotrol. When this updated edition comes out the boys might let their guard down! I’ve ordered and paid for my copy. I think Mr Palm is right up there. ….fantastic work!

  8. Shane says:

    Why would a book like this need a pledge campaign? Why isn’t Polar backing it up, it’s sure to sell enough to make it worthwhile.

  9. Bert says:

    We used to have such excellent books about Prince thanks to Swedish(!) fan club Uptown. And then Prince sued them and they were forced into an agreement which meant (as later revealed) that they couldn’t re-release their books nor publish them in digital form.

    And since they quit more than a decade ago (there’s only so much shit you can tolerate from the artist you write about) there haven’t been updates and their books have been basically unavailable.

    Sure, there’s PrinceVault, but it has only a fraction of what’s in the books.

  10. Richard says:

    The U.S. Book only edition is about $30.00 more than in G.B. I would buy if I could get it shipped to me from the U.K. Ship through Amazon or in the future: Super Deluxe Edition Store.

  11. Daniel says:

    Hello Steve & Marc,
    sorry but I’m really disappointed about all these ABBA re-re-releases
    on CD, new packages, Vinyl Picture 12” and Vinyl 7″ and “new”
    Hit-Compilation and another Japan Box Set and all the other stuff
    from the last 20 years since 1994 ( after the “Thank You For The Music” Box ). Michael B.Tretow knows what they have in the archives
    and that makes me really sad…
    I’m a fan of ABBA but don’t like this ABBA Money-making-machine.
    Enjoy the forthcoming book. I prefer to hear the previously unreleased material on a CD and not only described by Mr. Palm in a book.

  12. Andrea says:

    I think Daniel has a point.
    As Mr. Palm says, in his own words, he’s been “authorized to listen to plenty more unreleased music”. Good for him, but I’m not sure if I’d be so comfortable reading new insight on music that mortals like us will never have the chance to listen… would you?

    By the way, the book comes with the option of a bonus cd of ABBA covers by other bands… right, but wouldn’t it be great to have a tiny sample of the wealth of unreleased music and alternate mixes Mr. Palm had access to, instead?

  13. Baward says:

    Pledged. I am happy to support a project like this, and quite glad that its not a Polar product, as I think I have given too much money to them already!

    I wonder if Mr Palm will be frisked for listening devices before he gets to listen to the music? :-)

  14. Robert Brown says:

    I find the whole selection confusing, so many offers for basically the same thing, also, if it closes in March, why the hell are the expected shipping dates November 2016! I understand it takes time t print etc and Nov 2015 would be acceptable, but close to 2 years to deliver? They serious!!

  15. twinkling star says:

    there’s a big chance carl magnus palm, during his listening sessions, will come across tapes even björn & benny have forgotten about. so I think there is a little chance that some unreleased (demo) music will be released after all. of course that is what universal is hoping for too! with the pledging we’re now on a third of the 32 days, but we still have a long way (a lot of money!) to go to reach the ultimate goal to have the book written by palm! so, let’s pledge!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Also, it’s hardly Carl Magnus Palm’s fault if Benny and Bjorn don’t want to release anything extra from the archive. The fact that the material isn’t out there makes the book much MORE interesting.

  16. Andrea says:

    really?… How so?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Because if you know what something unreleased sounds like, reading a description of it is less interesting then if you DON’T know what it sounds like.

  17. Mikko Suhonen says:

    The book sure looks tempting, but the price tag (about 80€ for non-UK residents) is too high for a book that does not come out until 2016. At least to my budget.

  18. Andrea says:

    So Paul, if I understand you correctly, this book would be so much more interesting if you hadn’t ever heard a single note from Abba.
    I agree that a November 2016 release date, for a revised edition, seem quite ridiculous.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      That isn’t what I said. But anyway I’ll continue to enjoy the great music they have released and you can continue to feel bitter because of stuff you feel they ‘should’ release.

  19. Andrea says:

    Not bitter at all. Just slightly nonplussed about a revised book I already own, promising new insight on music I’ll never hear.

  20. Nigel Hall says:

    Kinda begs the question of why you bought it in 1994 in the first place then Andrea. I bought it because as a long time ABBA fan (note: fan not fanatic) I was eager to read about the recording of songs I already knew and loved AND to gain an insight into some of the songs I knew existed but had either only heard as dodgy bootleg recordings or not heard at all. And this new updated version promises to have much, much more of both so I for one am very happy to support CM-P in his crowdfunding venture and I hope he raises enough to make it happen.

    Whether we like it or not I think we all have to acknowledge and accept that B&B do not want any of the ‘unfinished’ ABBA material to be released (it’s not as if they haven’t had plenty of chances to do so over the years) so we’re unlikely to hear any more of it before they all kark it and while it’s easy to level criticisms at Universal for trying to make money out of the ABBA back catalogue with their seemingly constant programme of re-releases, no one forces people to buy anything.

    That said, as some others have mentioned, I do find it mildly disappointing that the bonus CD that’s on offer contains absolutely nothing ‘new’ at all. Still, with almost two years to go before it hits the streets there’s obviously time for that to change…

  21. Friso Pas says:

    A book like this certainly gives a fan insight into the crafting of the songs, and a deeper understanding of this band. Thanks Carl, for deciding to do this. I do hope that the final goal will be reached. Still, 1 month seems quite short to get it all. Is that a condition for a Kickstarter project of this kind?

  22. Mario says:

    It’s obviously not easy to write ‘against’ some “True-abba-lovers” here,
    who accept all what Björn&Benny said or not said.
    And this is then: “The Holy Grail”
    ( i thought “Just Like That” is the holy grail )
    I’m bored too of all these abba releases from the last decade.
    And now the “great” idea of bringing (maybe) a CD in the book with other artists playing abba songs.
    It’s scary!
    Meanwhile:
    I thought “Deluxe Edition” should be a trademark for
    “Deluxe”content – like the “Deluxe Edition” of “Songs From The Big Chair”
    by Tears for Fears. This is a “Deluxe Edition” !
    ( not picking up only old TV-show videos and the same ABBA music-galleries and call this “Deluxe Edition” )
    And the ever-going “vetoed by B&B”.
    “We thought we can bring ‘Just A Notion’ out – oh sorry
    it was vetoed by B&B”… dream on…little dreamer…
    The “Twinkling Star” Demo Medley was not what I really want
    ( better would be a complete demo instead of this hotchpotch),
    but it was a little first step ( or the last ) in the right direction.
    Like one reader wrote here last year about a “new” Abba release:
    “Bring out something new of unreleased music to the fans or “leave the stage” Abba.”
    Use Abba a trick to put Carl Magnus Palm in front of this project ?
    How funny it would sounds if abba ( one of the greatest bands in the world ) must use “pledgemusic” to realise a book.
    If rich labels or successful bands use crowd-founding then the result
    should be the same as “Inside The Pleasuredome”.
    Great work, great design, many good ideas and much unreleased music for the fans like us.
    Maybe they should create a new description for future abba releases:
    Not “Deluxe Edition” – better would be: “Less Is More Edition”

  23. Friso Pas says:

    Mario, this is a book release, not a bonus cd. But you’re right, if you mean that Universal could and should pay for a substantial amount of the pledge, about a high profile band like ABBA. Carl, maybe you can explain the input of the label, or lack thereof.

  24. Steve Foster says:

    A very clever, albeit bitter post Mario (it may have made pinkfloyd laugh, but the whole tone of it was wrong and saddened me to be honest with you).

    I posted this on an earlier thread regarding the Deluxe Edition release of “Gracias por la musica” and it pretty much sums up how I feel/where I stand with regards to these matters:

    “Steve Foster says:
    September 28, 2014 at 19:11

    Unlike many ABBA fans, I am totally supportive of Björn & Benny’s right as the Artists involved to decide what they want to release and what they don’t want to release (as a songwriter myself, I would be utterly furious and totally embarassed were some of my demo’s to be released without my consent! They deserve to remain in the vaults! In that respect, I can ENTIRELY sympathise with B&B on this point! True, I am not ABBA, but the principle is one I feel complete empathy towards). At the end of the day, it is THEIR music. It belongs to THEM & what they have agreed to release, has been wonderful to hear! (the new ABBA – Live at Wembley Arena album is astonishingly good! Even a year ago, no-one would have believed that the former ABBA members would EVER agree to such an album being released, and yet… here it is and it is stunning! The previously unissued “I’m Still Alive” is both moving and beautiful. A true rarity and a wonderful gift for fans of ABBA & Agnetha!).

    Yes, I too would like Just Like That, Sång till Görel, Fanfare for Ice Hockey World Championships 1981 (instrumental), Hovas Vittne, the original Full Length Version of Dancing Queen (featuring the missing verse) & the original Full Length Version of I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do (first released on a Spanish Greatest Hits compilation in 1988 and also missing a verse) to be released officially, but in all honesty, all but one of these tracks is available on YouTube including various mixes of Just Like That and instrumental demo versions of Slipping Through My Fingers and Two For The Price of One amongst other things.

    For me, the highlights of the releases have been the rare early or alternate mixes of a number of tracks that the former ABBA members have allowed to be included on the Bonus DVD’s including several unique versions of songs that were heard on various TV appearances in the 1970′s & early 1980′s (such as the unique mix of SOS on the BBC TV show “Seaside Special” that was featured on [The] ABBA [Album] DVD. This mix is quite extraordinary & something to really treasure!).

    The Stereo Mix of the full length version of On and On and On that can be found on the Super Trouper Deluxe CD was also a very welcome addition to my ABBA collection, as was the full length, unedited and fully Remastered version of Dream World included on the Voulex-Vouz Deluxe Edition CD).

    I think some people obsess about ABBA’s music to the point where it becomes unhealthy and something that the former ABBA members quite understandably, get annoyed and uncomfortable about. In spite of this, and the constant anger that [some] so-called ABBA fans show towards them, the former ABBA members ARE mellowing, slowly but surely, and are allowing things to be released little by little, bit by bit.

    More examples of this include the alternate, early Rock Mix of Does Your Mother Know (Voulez-Vous DVD), the wonderful, stripped down early mix of If It Wasn’t For The Nights (without the strings overdub, again on the Voulez-Vous DVD), various live or semi-live versions of songs (a couple of stripped down, unique acoustic versions of Thank You For The Music on both the ABBA – The Album DVD & The Visitors DVD respectively spring to mind), the “cold ending” unreleased single mix of “Under Attack” (again, on The Vistiors DVD)… the list goes on and on. I am grateful and delighted to own all of these at long last and to be able to listen to these mixes & live performances with the bonus of the rarely seen TV footage that acompanies them is both a joy and a delight!

    For the record, my only real dissapointment as far as the Deluxe Edition DVD’s go, is the absence of the incredible performance of three songs on the TV show “Show Express” from 1982 where unique “cold ending” mixes of “The Day Before You Came” & B Side “Cassandra” were heard. It’s a fantastic performances in every respect and it’s absence was, for me, hugely dissapointing.

    Apart from that though, I am delighted with the Deluxe Edition releases…”

  25. Daniel says:

    I agree 100% with Mario.
    All true. Sad but true.
    Steve: If ABBA would put all the special versions of “Does Your Mother Know”, “If It Wasn’t For The Nights” and the Cold-end versions on the “Deluxe Edition”
    then I would say: o.k. this is real audio bonus material
    But these versions are only on the DVD with applause and other noises.
    This is not a clear audio. Surely these versions are as clear audio versions in the ABBA archives.
    Obviously their were not against a release on a DVD.
    Why not included on the “Deluxe Edition” CD’s ?
    I bet B&B could find them if they want.
    But they don’t want.

  26. Friso Pas says:

    Why is everybody posting about songs and bonus tracks, when this article is about a book? I just don’t understand. Yes, there’s a bonus cd, but that is not the main issue now.
    Please, take your comments about songs “to be or not to be released” to the appropriate forums, and keep the comments on topic, which is… a Book!
    I’d appreciate it, if everybody makes an effort to share this Kickstarter project, so that the book will get a green light.

  27. Daniel says:

    ok. Friso Pas this is my comment to the book:
    I’m not interested in reading a book about unreleased versions of songs
    and I will never get the chance to hear them.
    Imagine that somebody tell you about a very good movie and you
    know that will never will see the movie.
    Or like Howard Jones sings:
    “You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat”…

  28. Andrea says:

    Here is why (at least, this goes for me) we’re talking about unreleased music instead of the book:
    – This a book that I guess we all (those who are following this thread) already own;
    – The revised edition is expanded with the analysis of (in Mr. Palm’s words) “plenty more unreleased music”.
    – We’re not (ever?) going to be able to listen to the bounty of unreleased music on which this new edition is based.

    So if, as the saying goes, writing about music is like dancing to architecture – what does this make of reading about unreleased music?
    A bit frustrating I think.

    In this context, the (optional) CD of ABBA covers seems a bit of a joke (on ABBA fans).

    And the price does seems a bit on the expensive side, for a revised book.

    That’s how I personally feel about this book, but I’m sure it will have its merits, and maybe who knows I’ll buy it one day, if it ever comes out, if the price drops, and if I’m still alive by its release

  29. Jopla2 says:

    I’m disappointed that there isn’t a basic “no frills” pledge option available. I’m really only interested in getting the book, but not even the cheapest option (which is signed by Palm) is available for me, as I’m not in the UK. Still, 81€ including shipping is ok (Europe) – but I’m sure many less eager fans will wait for the book to hit the shops… The campaign is half way through, but over two thirds of the money is still missing… Do these things speed up closer to the deadline? I hope they do because it would be a shame if the campaign failed.

  30. Guy says:

    Halfway down the line, only 16 more days to go and just 32% pledged….. :-(
    This doesn’t sound very promissing, such a shame if this book will never be published…..
    What about extending the pledgetime for another month or so?

  31. Daniel says:

    Rich labels / and groups like ABBA should pay themselves for such projects. And…
    if the book would include a CD with 5-10 unreleased ABBA demo’s
    this book would be fixed for printing in a few days. That’s for sure.
    ABBA / B&B / C. Palm / Polar Music should learn that they can not milking their fans for so many years
    without releasing any new unreleased audio material…

  32. Daran says:

    I can’t see this getting funded successfully at the moment. With 15 days gone and only 14 remaining it is a long way off 50% pledged. I wish him well, and I am curious about the book as an Abba lover. But I agree with others that the fabulously wealthy B&B / Polar should have subbed this book’s costs.

  33. Tom says:

    I refuse to buy a book that will provide details about unreleased material that the 2 B’s in ABBA refuse to release. They have been very consistent about this with only a couple rare exceptions. Why read about what we’ll never hear? I have nothing against the book itself, but as for the 2 grumpy old men who keep saying “no” so often, well, I seen no point in a book if the vaults remained shut and locked to fans.

  34. Daran says:

    So it has not been successfully funded by a massive shortfall. Round 2 of funding attempt looks likely, but unfortunately for those wanting a colour hardback book the price is now even higher at £75.

  35. baward says:

    Mr Palm has relaunched the campaign on Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/abba-the-complete-recording-sessions

  36. Colin says:

    The first Crowdfunding attempt for a new Edition of ‘The Complete
    Recording Session’ did not raise enough cash for it to succeed.

    However – Carl Magnus Palm has set up a 2nd attempt to fund the
    2nd Edition & that attempt has been successful.

    But, any ABBA Fans who want a physical copy of the Book can only
    get it by paying via the funding Site that Magnus has set up. The Book
    will not be available in the shops.

    Over the Years, Benny & Bjorn have allowed him to listen to a lot of
    unreleased ABBA Tracks – ‘Alternative Versions’ etc’ & here is Magnus
    telling us about some of those:,

    From Carl Magnus Palm – Face Book:,

    “Hi everyone,

    Just two weeks to go before the crowdfunding campaign for ABBA –
    The Complete Recording Sessions ends. Thanks to everyone who has
    pre-ordered so far. If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, now is the time do
    it.

    So far in this campaign I have mentioned several times about the
    previously unknown information on ABBA’s recordings that I mean to
    share with you all in the revised and expanded edition of ABBA – The
    Complete Recording Sessions. But I haven’t actually revealed very
    much about what that information might be. Well, time to change that!

    The following list features just some of the fascinating tapes I’ve
    stumbled across in my role as consultant for Polar Music:

    • Tiger – an alternate mix, revealing details about the harmony vocals
    that aren’t noticeable in the familiar mix.

    • Happy Hawaii – an alternate mix that’s really different from the one
    we’ve lived with for the past 38 years. It blew my mind when I heard it.

    • Dancing Queen – an early alternate mix that seems to suggest
    something very interesting regarding the development of that
    particular recording (no, I’m not talking about deleted verses).

    • Fernando – an alternate full-length mix; yes, folks, even Fernando
    was a “victim” of the razor blade and the sticky tape.

    • Voulez-Vous – a rough mix of the original backing track recorded in
    Miami, before further overdubs and adjustments were made in Stockholm.

    • Dream World – an alternate mix with a few interesting differences.

    • Our Last Summer – an alternate mix with details from the familiar
    version missing.

    Remember, this is just a selection of stuff I’ve heard “by accident” over the years. Can you imagine how much more there is to hear, once I start going through all the recordings systematically? What does ‘Me And I (with laughter)’ sound like, for instance? And what are the secrets we don’t even know are there to be found?

    If you’re as excited as I am about finding out more about ABBA’s unreleased and unheard recordings, and the stories on how the familiar hits were constructed in the studio, then pre-order your copy of ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions here:

    LINK:,

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/abba-the-complete-recording-sessions

    Thanks for your support!”

    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    Now that the Book will tell ABBA Fans what exists in the Polar
    Music ‘Vaults’, we can only hope that Benny & Bjorn let Universal
    Music have some, (or all), of those versions one day. Rather than
    the Fans seeing endless ABBA ‘Hits’ CD’s coming out, in the future,
    with not a note of music on them that we don’t already have…..
    Just the SOS – Same Old Songs.

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