I’ve always been a fan of ABBA’s later works, but their second album puzzles me.
Waterloo is the band’s second full length LP and their first to officially use the name ABBA. It’s a complete mixture of musical styles from reggae, dance, pop, rock, and more.
The best way I can describe this album is Swedish Rockabilly.
Waterloo opens with the title track that marks ABBA’s first smash hit across continents. It won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 and charted at number six in the United States. This song is a mixture of rock style guitar rifts with bright piano all wrapped in a lyrical history lesson that coincides with sweet love. It is followed up by the reggae infused “Sitting in The Palm Tree” where Piña Coladas fall in your hand to this tune.
Next, we have the “King Kong Song.” The band has noted they felt this song was the weakest on the album, and lyrically they may be correct. Though it is one of the most fun to listen to with it’s rock infused dance rhythm. This side also includes the hit “Hasta Mañana,” while closing with the dance ballad “Dance (While The Music Still Goes On).”
Side B opens up with another one of ABBA’s smash hits “Honey, Honey.” The song drips like honey with lollipops and candy. This fun tune is 1970’s bubblegum pop. ABBA then introduces hip hop vibes with “Watch Out,” before hip hop was even invented. This song is followed by another tune you could easily see the Supremes belting, “What About Livingstone.”
We are then met with the only real ballad, “Gonna Sing You My Love Song” and one of the only recordings Benny Andersson made solo, “Suzy-Hang-Around.” The album closes with “Ring Ring” which was previously released on their first LP. It was rereleased on the American version of this album.
As always, Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson wrote all the songs with assistance from a few extra writers. Ulvaeus and Andersson created an undeniable lyrical style with this album. Frida Lyngstad and Anna Fältskog laid the foundation for ABBA’s iconic harmonies.
This album is not as disco and danced infused as ABBA’s later recordings. Although this album shows the innovation the band was bringing to music. They had a new sound that didn’t have name. ABBA made up their own styles in this album, just like the greats of Rock and Roll did when they created Rockabilly. I’m not sure they knew what they were doing, but they invented a style of music that still reverberates in music and popular culture today.
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