ABBA

In Concert [Bonus Tracks]

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ABBA undertook only their second international tour in the late summer of 1979, first playing North America and then in Europe during September, October, and November. They took along a film crew, and the result was a TV special, ABBA in Concert, eventually released as a home video on VHS tape. This DVD edition adds some bonus material, but the bulk of it is still the original video as released commercially, with a running time of 51:28. The first 11 of those minutes are taken up with footage shot on tour (but not on-stage) in North America, a collage of hotel and airplane shots of the bandmembers, under which snippets of their music are played. The song list shows "Waterloo," "Eagle," and "Take a Chance on Me," but none of these songs are heard in their entirety, and excerpts from others are heard as well. The remaining 40 minutes are taken up by concert footage shot at the Wembley Arena in London as ABBA plays nine songs, all of them taken from their fourth, fifth, and sixth albums, Arrival, ABBA -- The Album, and Voulez-Vous. Much of this music is set to a disco beat, the exceptions being the ballads "Chiquitita" and "I Have a Dream," the latter accompanied by a children's choir, whose rehearsal is intercut with the performance. The DVD includes three bonus tracks: "The Way Old Friends Do" was part of the film when it was shown on TV, but eliminated from the home video; there is a version of "I Have a Dream" without the rehearsal; and in the only instance of actual newly released musical material, a performance of "Thank You for the Music" has been assembled from some surviving footage. But the lengthiest bonuses are a 21-minute interview with ABBA's tour producer and a 15-minute interview with the film's director, both newly recorded. One might have hoped for more. Apparently, the group's entire two-hour concert was filmed, and it would have been nice to have had that instead of just repeating the home video with a few extras. (The apparent difficulty in putting together footage for "Thank You for the Music," however, suggests that much of the film may not exist anymore.) At the show, for example, group member Agnetha Fältskog played and sang her unreleased composition "I'm Still Alive"; it's still unreleased. ABBA in Concert gives viewers a sense of what an ABBA concert was like. Maybe someday they'll get to see a complete show.

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