Abba The Essential Collection [DVD] [2012]

Release Date: 03 September 2012 | Certificate: Exempt
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The producers have assembled every promotional film clip ever done by ABBA from 1974 through 1982, restored the color and cleaned up the images, synced each up with the latest 24-bit audio masters on the songs, and the result is this audio-visual wave that washes over the viewer, even on relatively modestly proportioned monitors and small speakers; the mastering of the disc is clean enough that one can hear the differences in texture in the original recordings between, say, "Bang-a-Boomerang" and "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" in vivid detail, even on television speakers. Visually, the group is rather eerie -- their image is cold and icy, especially in the conceptual videos, but in the performance-oriented videos such as "Dancing Queen," they're obviously having a tremendous amount of fun. (Watching that clip, one is also struck by the obvious possibilities for drag-queen karaoke performances, which have likely never been exploited because with the need to involve more than one performer, the egos would probably be lethal.) It's also very strange, looking at that clip, to realize how standards and attitudes changed over the 18 years between the recorded material and the video's release -- featuring under-age teenagers, especially girls, in a song that celebrates dancing in so sensual a manner would probably raise a lot of eyebrows today. In addition to the 30 "official" promotional videos done by the group -- directed by future renowned international filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom -- the disc has been kitted out with five bonus videos, the after-the-fact promotional film for "When I Kissed the Teacher," and three Spanish-language videos (amazingly, there never was an English-language promotion clip for "I Have a Dream," but it did get promoted in South America), as well as a performance clip of "Dancing Queen" at the festivities surrounding a 1976 Swedish royal wedding. The latter clip is particularly striking, as it is the only one to feature the group in period (i.e., late 18th century) costume -- the other clips show a rapid advance in their look from post-folky/Euro-hippie to middle/late-'70s dancefloor fashion hounds. Just about the only video artifact that wasn't included that should have been is the sequence from Malcolm in the Middle that utilized the song "Fernando," featuring Beatrice Arthur and Erik Per Sullivan. Additionally, there is a 20-minute montage of still photographs of the group from across their history that plays out over a seemingly unending variety of the group's songs, each run-through using a different series of hits; set to repeated playback, this could truly be the equivalent of the music video as wall decoration, and is probably the ideal program for any party with a theme looped around the 1970s. The quality of the audio and video material is impeccable, and the disc opens automatically to a very straightforward and entertaining menu (with the instrumental track from "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" as accompaniment that moves in some surprising directions in opening and closing). It's possible to play the clips in sequence, isolate groups of them, or set the disc for random playback at the touch of an onscreen button. ~ Bruce Eder
Release Date: 03 September 2012
Certificate: E - Exempt from Certification

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SKU: 2799374