by: ABBA

This recording is often underrated, and might seem superfluous in the wake of the release of the group's various hits compilations on CD, but it does have merits. Drawn from three distinct sets of performances, in Australia (1977), London's Wembley Arena (1979), and the television special Dick Cavett Meets ABBA (1981), the quartet proves that they could recreate their recordings on stage with a few improvements. The beat is more urgent on most of the numbers (most especially "Dancing Queen " "Take a Chance on Me," and "Does Your Mother Know" -- the live version of the latter, in particular, puts the studio rendition to shame), and the singers lose none of their elegance, even as they benefit from the immediacy of live work (albeit in front of upwards of 50,000 people, rather impersonal). The song selection on this 14-track CD makes it virtually a live greatest-hits package, and at mid-price that's not a bad thing. Further, the 1999 Polydor remastering, as part of "The ABBA Remasters" series, brings out the same rippling instrumental textures that highlighted their studio sides, from the acoustic opening of "I Have a Dream" to the throbbing bass of "Gimme Gimme Gimme," except that the arrangements are all tighter here, and the singing is never less than stunning (and none of it sounds redubbed). This is the kind of recording that CDs were created to enhance. ~ Bruce Eder

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