Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Abba

  • Greatest Hits [Atlantic, 1976] C+
  • Arrival [Atlantic, 1977] C
  • Greatest Hits Vol. 2 [Atlantic, 1979] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Greatest Hits [Atlantic, 1976]
Although four of these songs have gone top twenty here, the title commemorates the band's conquest of such places as West Germany and Costa Rica, where Abba's Europop is the biggest thing since the Beazosmonds. Americans with an attraction to vacuums, late capitalism, and satellite TV adduce Phil Spector and the Brill Building Book of Hooks in Abba's defense, but the band's real tradition is the advertising jingle, and I'm sure their disinclination to sing like Negroes reassures the Europopuli. Pervasive airplay might transform what is now a nagging annoyance into an aural totem. It might also transform it into an ashtray. God bless America, we're not likely to find out which. C+

Arrival [Atlantic, 1977]
Since this is already the best-selling group in the universe, I finally have an answer when people ask me to name the Next Big Thing. What I wonder is how we can head them off at the airport. Plan A: Offer Bjorn and Benny the leads in Beatlemania (how could they resist the honor?) and replace them with John Phillips and Denny Doherty. Plan B: Appoint Bjorn head of the U.N. and Benny his pilot (or vice versa) and replace them with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Plan C: Overexpose them in singing commercials. Plan D: Institute democratic socialism in their native land, so that their money lust will meet with the scorn of their fellow citizens. C

Greatest Hits Vol. 2 [Atlantic, 1979]
Fourteen cuts, close to an hour of polyvinyl chloride, and only two of 'em made U.S. top ten. We have met the enemy and they are them. C