Waterloo [Import Bonus Tracks]

by: ABBA

ABBA's second (and U.S. debut) album contains the American Top Ten title track, as well as "Honey, Honey," a minor U.S. hit that deserved better. This album is rather unusual in the group's output, however, for the fact that the guys are still featured fairly prominently in some of the vocals, and for the variety of sounds, including reggae, folk-rock, and hard rock, embraced by its 11 songs. The reggae number "Sitting in the Palm Tree" is quite remarkable to hear, with its perfect Caribbean beat and those radiant female voices carrying the chorus behind the beat. "King Kong Song" is a good example of hard rock by rote, going through the motions of screaming vocals and over-amplified guitar (courtesy of Janne Schaffer), although even here, when the womens' voices jump in on the choruses, it's hard not to listen attentively; the quartet knew what a powerful weapon they had, but not quite how to use it. They get a little closer to their winning formula on the catchy, folky-textured pop song "Hasta Manana," which sounds like a lost Mary Hopkin number. "Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)" is on the money, as the embodiment of the Euro-disco sound that the group would move in the millions on their coming albums, although it also embraces a vague oldies sound, with a melody that somehow reminds this listener of both the Four Seasons' "Dawn" and the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby." [Waterloo was reissued in November of 2001 in a in digi-pak format with extensive new notes, even crisper state-of-the-art sound, and with three bonus cuts, the 1974 remix of "Ring, Ring" and the Swedish versions of "Waterloo" and "Honey Honey" -- their presence, and the 24-bit digital audio, only serves to make a beautiful album even better.] ~ Bruce Eder

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