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The Sinner Fakes it All
Before I was deep in the hellish identity formation of my mid Teenz, I was virginally unaware of the cultural cancer candy floss that is ABBA. The astonishly successful and crabs in a youth hostel catchy Swedish export pop product was novel as one of the more honest, less cool kids put on a copy of ABBA Gold to fill this gap in my sonic knowledge. My ears were pierced by the helium tedium of Dancing Queen and being polite I waited until the phrasebook fantasy of Waterloo was finished.I felt that part of my soul had been erased. Much like biting into a KFC Zinger Tower Burger there was no denying that basic, simple instincts were being tickled by such a cynical, soulless, scientific excellence designed to induce thoughtless pleasure. A sonic snack fast food injection that bore no pretension or even attempt at art or reference or influence - it just wanted to amuse, to pass the time, to distract from the born astride a grave horror show prank of consciousness itself with no agenda. A golden wondrous crisp packet filled with nothing but air, yet elegantly made. So smart in it's utter stupidity.ABBA were emitted onto the global pop scene in a time of international flux and confusion. All "Greatest Hits" of any era are hopefully compiled by critics and those who "lived through it" later to put the best gloss on things. The Swinging Sixties were pretty grey and vapid for most people. The best charting single of the era was Engelbert Humperdinck's version of "Please Release Me" - which infested the Number One slot long enough to retard The Beatles "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever" from claiming the top spot.So to be fair to the spooky quartet of freaky piano composer dudes and accessibly cute fembots, let's look at the appearance of "Mamma Mia" in context. In early 1976 the sheeple were swimming in a sea of Captain and Tenille cruise ship MOR, Barbara Dicksonism, blingtard hippie ELO and a brown side of ripe Four Seasons. A few classic disco bits crept in here and there with the likes of Love to Love You Baby, but on the whole punters had indifferently made fop and flab by faded talents or studio session types looking to cash in. And Leo Sayer. In such a context ABBA's vapid excellence would have shone out like a rain of rhinestones in a tipped and burning portaloo. Forget about anything good, we are talking mainstream here and comparing like with like.And as pop plopped along, there was no denying for the unthinking, unfeeling, snack a wack end of the market ABBA's strangely earnest yet empty chronicle of suburban not-very-much lasted crafted like an over engineered Hasselblad camera outfit. Generation after robbed generation turned back to a memory of perfect plastic pitch and jumpsuits, recycled as a musical and then a film. On and on and on. Of course due to no doubt chaste hair helmet based fallings out, the original lineup stayed out of the limelight. The dark haired one, the blameless yet symbolic result of a Norwegian Nazi captive breeding programme, married some Teutonic Trash princeling and bowed out. The blokes made overcooked musicals like Chess and popped up from time to time. And now the blonde one has broken her silence to collect a post millennial pension via the demonic offices of Gary Barlow and has gotten plenty of press notices. Of course this post retirement warble will not have a fraction of the effect of the original near decade production run. So what does it all mean?Andy Warhol once extolled the democratic virtues of Coca-Cola. Substitute Sweden, or the West for America and ABBA for Coke and it still reads fine, despite leaving a bitterer taste to the groovy:"What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it."ABBA is the same universal, unifying force in pop product. Though plenty more groovy people will crack back a cola than tolerate one of ABBA's Dairylea depth charges for long. It works, it makes people happy, it makes more money than any virtue could, and is more a sugar vacuum space to avoid than hate with the viral intensity one should reserve for RiRi. ABBA never made beating up women seem a prelude to lifelong romance, or profaned entire genres, nor got up in your face every day with another Twitter turdbomb of illiterate bling and sponsored junk food and shoes costing more than a used car. They just made something to stop thinking to, to smile at and buy while forgetting the fact we all die.And any vinyl vulture worth the name will die inside if they have a notion of missing our new in this sacred Saturday.Classic Rock, Jazz, Funk, Soul, Reggae Drum and Bass and Indie Rock, more 70's and 80's movie sountracks and some fun loving metalc and hard rock picture discs. Random pick; Smiths, Funkadelic, Leonard Cohen, Pixies, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, Bad Company (the D&B one), DJ Zinc, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, Brian Eno...
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