From 1974 to 1982, millions of pop and disco fans around the world took a chance on a Swedish quartet called ABBA, which despite recording only eight studio albums during its relatively brief career continues to make “Money, Money, Money” off its compilation discs, box sets, a merch-filled museum, and the stage and movie versions of the musical “Mamma Mia!” Deriving its name from the first letters in the first names of its four members—Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog—ABBA gave the world such sugary confections as “Fernando,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Take a Chance on Me.” In 2010, the group, which was and remains particularly popular in Australia, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
One of the key characteristics of the band’s public image was that its elaborately costumed members were married, Ulvaeus to Fältskog, Andersson to Lyngstad. Though ABBA was known for its harmonious vocals, particularly between its two female singers, the songwriting was largely handled by the men, although, in its early days, the band’s manager, Stig Anderson, also supplied some of the group’s lyrics. Maybe it was the lack of creative collaboration among the couples, or perhaps it was the usual pressures associated with touring and international superstardom, but by 1979 Ulvaeus and Fältskog had divorced, followed in 1981 by Andersson and Lyngstad.
For record collectors, ABBA is a bit of a puzzle since its popularity rarely resulted in limited pressings that would make anything in its catalog worth significantly more than the vinyl it was pressed on. Still, 45s from 1972 and ’73 on Playboy Records of pre-ABBA work by “Björn & Benny” are prized, as are the Polar Music singles of “People Need Love” and “Waterloo,” which are credited to the band’s unwieldy, pre-acronym name of “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid.”