Tag Archives: Björn Ulvaeus

ABBA: Let The Music Speak Is An Amazing Book

ABBA Let The Music SpeakThe most amazing book about ABBA’s music is the one called “ABBA: Let The Music Speak” by Christopher Patrick. This book which is subtitled, “An Armchair Guide To The Musical Soundscape Of The Swedish Supergroup” is exactly that in that Christopher Patrick is a musician and he is able to musically guide us through every song in the ABBA catalog from the perspective of a musician. Everything you could possibly want to know about the construction of an ABBA song musically is there.

For a while in the late 1970’s ABBA had shot ahead of the Beatles in terms of record sales, but John Lennon’s death quickly reversed that temporary unseating of the Beatles as best selling act of all time. Despite this achievement, ABBA’s purely Swedish Pop is often not given the same credibility as the Beatles achievement. Their music is often considered lightweight and bubblegum compared to the works of the Beatles. It hardly seems like a fair comparison. In fact at the time the Beatles overtook Elvis Presley as the largest selling act of all time, John Lennon was asked who he thought might overtake the Beatles and he stated, ABBA.

Mountains of books have been written about the musical genius of John Lennon and Paul McCartney all lavishing praise. And yet until now, few books have been written about the works of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, who arguably have written comparable songs to those of Lennon and McCartney. Unfortunately praising ABBA had a heavy stigma for years in both the media and in the public at large that it really seemed that ABBA wasn’t going to get the respect it deserves.

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The Stockholm Syndrome: Is America Becoming Like Sweden?

Stockholm SyndromeWith the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, and the election of the most liberal congress in many years, the concern is that socialistic government ideas are going to be making their way to America and turning America into another Sweden. Sweden is one of the most highly taxed nations in the world and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” a politically minded show with a strong emphasis on the comedy of it, takes a satirical look at what they dubbed, “The Stockholm Syndrome.”

To accomplish this task of seeing out the differences between America’s traditionally capitalistic society and it’s proposed future as a socialistic society, the Daily Show sent “reporter” Wyatt Cenac to Stockholm to explore socialism. In the process he meets up with Swedish people for interviews on the street, interviews of conditions in the factory of a Swedish truck manufacturer as well as government officials and Swedish pop stars Robyn and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. The topics include health care and high taxation. There’s even an amusing surprise revelation at the end of this two part report.

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Elaine Paige Interviews ABBA’s Benny & Björn on BBC Radio 2

Elaine Paige BBC Radio 2Elaine Paige, often dubbed, “The First Lady Of British Theatre,” for her impressive stage career as one of Britain’s musical theatre stars. Some of the highlights of her career include being the first woman to star as Eva Peron in “Evita” and was the first to ever belt out the song “Memory” from London’s stages in “Cats.”

In addition to her stage career, she hosts a BBC Radio 2 program highlighting music from theatrical shows. On the April 5, 2009 broadcast to mark the 10th anniversary of “Mamma Mia!” on London’s West End, Elaine interviewed Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus ABBA to talk about “Mamma Mia!” as well as 25th Anniversary of “Chess” (Benny and Björn’s musical from the 1984 that they co-wrote with Tim Rice and coincidentally also starred Elaine Paige). Elaine joined Benny and Björn at Benny’s Mono Music Studio in Stockholm for the interview portion of the program.

In addition to spending time discussing both “Mamma Mia!” and “Chess” with the boys from ABBA, Elaine also got them to discuss their other musical “Kristina Från Duvemåla.” which up until now has only been in Swedish. One of the highlights from the discussion was the first presentation of “Du Måste Finnas” in English as performed by Helen Sjöholm, who played Kristina in the original Swedish cast. In English, the song is entitled, “You Have To Be There” and the lyrics were said to be a draft version and are not yet set in stone as the final version of it. If everything goes according to plan, New York audiences will be treated to a concert version of the new English translation of the show on September 23 and 24th at Carnegie Hall.

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RENT Gets Paid In San Diego With Anthony Rapp And Adam Pascal

RENT Tour With Adam Pascal & Anthony RappOn March 11th, I caught “The Broadway Tour” of Jonathan Larson’s Epic masterpiece, RENT, hit San Diego’s Civic Theatre. I went with my friend Louie Taylor. Part of the main reason I wanted to go see RENT was because the main draw of the tour is that it has been billed as featuring original cast members, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal who would be reprising their roles as Mark and Roger respectively. An unadvertised bonus is that another original cast member, Gwen Stewart, is also reprising her role in the tour as one of the ensemble players as a variety of characters and featured solo vocalist during “Seasons Of Love.”

As the first tour since RENT closed on Broadway in September 2008, it seems all the more poignant to see such a high profile tour with Original cast members Rapp and Pascal on board. They’re no strangers to coming back to the roles that made them Broadway stars as they both were part of the original workshop shows, transferred the show to Broadway and then later to London, then recreated their roles in the film version of RENT in 2005, and then for a limited engagement in Summer 2007 returned to Broadway according to BroadwayWorld.com. These roles have been a part of their lives off and on for the last 15 years. In the interview in the Playbill handed out at the performance Adam Pascal suspects “when we’re done with this tour, I have a strong suspicion that this will be it for me and RENT. At some point I am going to be too old to do the part.”

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“Absolutely Fabulous” Send Up of Mamma Mia! The Movie

Mamma Mia! Parody With Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Joanna LumleyMy friend Merrick Wolfe, who served as the Company Manager for the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia! at the Mandalay Bay for the first year of the production, always thought that the roles of Rosie and Tanya for a film version of the movie should be played by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders of the British comedy team, French & Saunders. Merrick thought this long before a filmed version of Mamma Mia! was ever set to become a reality.

Well Mamma Mia! The Movie swept the world last year with Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the roles, but now Merrick has sort of gotten his wish in that, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, have chosen to do a send up of Mamma Mia! The Movie for the BBC’s annual Red Nose Day fundraiser celebration. They also drafted Jennifer Saunder’s partner in crime from her hit BBC series “Absolutely Fabulous”, Joanna Lumley, and have created a brilliant send up of Mamma Mia! The Movie. Dawn French plays Julie Walters in her role as Rosie, as Merrick had wished so long ago. However his desire to see Jennifer Saunders as Tanya, didn’t quite pan out exactly. Here Jennifer sends up Meryl Streep in the role of Donna, and Joanna Lumley comes in to play Christine Baranski as Tanya. Continue reading “Absolutely Fabulous” Send Up of Mamma Mia! The Movie

The 9 Most Incredible Things Of 2008 In Ryan’s Incredible World

Now that 2009 is now upon us, it seems that it would be good to take a few minutes to highlight what made high points for me in 2008. Taking a quick glance at the list of items that made the list this year, it seems that the very early 1980’s seem to be related to almost all of the items that make the list for this year. The influence of the 1980’s will be readily apparent as you check out the list. And I’ll point those out along the way for those who might not quite see the influence.

Without further ado, I now present My 9 Most Incredible Things of 2008, in no particular order… Continue reading The 9 Most Incredible Things Of 2008 In Ryan’s Incredible World

First Look – Mamma Mia! The Movie Deluxe Edition Soundtrack

Due to one of my local retailers putting out their stock of new releases on Sunday instead of Tuesday, I am able to offer a sneak peak to Tuesday’s US release of the new Mamma Mia! The Movie Deluxe Edition Soundtrack.

The Packaging

The Deluxe Edition Soundtrack is housed in a hardbound book that’s roughly the size of a standard DVD plastic case. When the “book” style packaging is opened it reveals a printed book attached the the front part of the cover and a heavy duty 2 disc clear plastic tray glued down the the back side. As the book tends to look more like a booklet that’s just glued to the front side of the cover, when you open it, you’ll see the back cover of the booklet and you’ll have to manually flip to the pages you want.

The discs included are a soundtrack CD that features different screen printing on the actual disc from the previously released version. Instead of a photo from the “Voulez-Vous” scene, the disc now features a shot of the main cast in their “Waterloo” scene outfits lined up with sparks flying in the background. The track listing of the CD is also printed on the disc below the image. The bonus DVD that’s exclusive to this package, also features the same “Waterloo” image except the text below the image indicates it’s a bonus DVD.

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Mamma Mia! Soundtrack Has New “Deluxe Edition”

Amazon.com has the new “Deluxe Edition” of Mamma Mia! The Movie’s soundtrack scheduled to come out on November 25, 2008 in the United States. Although the soundtrack portion will remain the same as it was when it was released in July of this year, it comes with a hard cover booklet featuring lyrics to the songs as well as housing some unseen photos as well as commentary regarding the film and the soundtrack. Additionally the set will include a DVD with approximately 30 minutes of footage of the recording sessions as well as interviews with Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, and original ABBA members, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. It will serve as a “making of” for the soundtrack.

The “Deluxe Edition” of the soundtrack comes out in the US, the same week that the DVD of the movie comes out in the United Kingdom. However, US DVD buyers have to wait until December 16th to get a US released copy of the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray. Australian and New Zealand consumers will be the first to get the DVD when it releases in those territories on November 6rd, however they have to wait until December 3rd for the Blu-Ray edition.

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All ABBA Channel On SIRIUS Satellite Radio

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced that Channel 3 for a two week period beginning July 7th, 2008 will be become the ABBA Channel. To tie in with “Mamma Mia! The Movie” being released this month, SIRIUS is getting in the act in making sure you have access to an all ABBA channel to get your fix of ABBA songs as well as songs from both the original cast recording and movie cast recordings of Mamma Mia.

The limited engagement channel will also feature stories and insights from ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus about their many pop classics which have influenced recording artists for over three decades. ABBA Radio will also feature celebrity fans sharing their favorite ABBA music and personal stories, including stars from “Mamma Mia! The Movie” Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Catherine Johnson, film director Phyllida Lloyd and producer Gary Goetzman, as well as Dionne Warwick, Alanis Morissette, songwriter Desmond Child, Joan Rivers, Brooke Shields, Andy Bell from Erasure, Randy Jones from the Village People, the cast of the Tony Award®-winning musical Spring Awakening, ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson, Per Gessle of Roxette, Nancy Sinatra and Martha Stewart.

Benny Andersson of ABBA in press release issued by SIRIUS said, “Thanks to ABBA Radio on SIRIUS, both new and longtime fans have a place to experience the original music of ABBA, together with the new songs produced for the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! The Movie, in a distinctively innovative way. ABBA Radio allows for our early songs to join the new ones in harmony on SIRIUS’ national platform, and engage all generations of listeners.” Continue reading All ABBA Channel On SIRIUS Satellite Radio