Ring, Ring – ABBA calling!
In 1972, ABBA – or Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid, as they were known then – released their first single, People Need Love. At that time, all four members were involved in several other projects, yet because of the potential of the girls’ voices combined with the boys’ songwriting abilities, they decided to record an LP.
In 1973, they entered the Melodifestivalen (an annual Swedish competition which determines the country’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest) with the song Ring, Ring. Despite coming in third and missing out on that year’s ESC, the song became quite a hit in Scandinavian countries, so the four decided to work as a permanent group from there on and proceeded to record their first album – Ring, Ring. Said albumwent on to enjoy a fair amount of success in South Africa and parts of Europe – especially Belgium, where it topped the albums chart.
This album contains a lot of lesser-known songs of the group, most of which don’t have that ‘timeless quality’ of many other ABBA songs. An interesting thing about Ring, Ring is that it features Bjorn and Benny as lead singers on quite a few of its songs; She’s My Kind of Girl may be the one song where the lack of softness usually provided by the girls’ voices is most apparent. Still, hearing the boys sing more than the usual backing vocals could hardly be deemed a bad thing. The album is more unique because of it and their voices do fit these songs. Probably the only common denominator this and the other ABBA albums have is the clever use of backing vocals and arrangements. I have always appreciated the care and attention this band allotted for those.
An interesting song from this album is Disillusion, which stands out asbeing the only ABBA song Agnetha co-authored. A haunting melody and lyrics such as ‘Wishing, hoping, chasing shadows…/Did I see your face somewhere in the crowd?‘ make it the best of the (few) ballads on this album. From the more gleeful songs, worth mentioning are People Need Love and Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) – both are testimony of the group’s energy and love they had for each other.
Still, the two gems of the album are He is Your Brother and the lead single, Ring, Ring. The first one sees all four members share lead vocals. It has a lovely melody and conveys a great message, summarized best by the lyrics: Treat him well, he is your brother,/ Love him that’s the only way. While Ring, Ring‘s lyrics aren’t unheard of (they are about a woman waiting for her lover to call her and wondering if he still loves her), they give the song the universal appeal that ABBA was after. That, coupled with the great beat and harmonies make it quite an addictive song. I like to look at both songs as a foreshadow of what was to come from ABBA – in terms of musical composition, lyrics, vocals.
To sum it all up, Ring, Ring is a good first album: joyful, enjoyable and sprinkled with awesome tracks.
I am curios, what is your favorite song from this album? Also, a review for Waterloo should be up in another few days, so keep an eye out for it.