I once gave away a perfectly good and fully-working midi hi-fi so that my lodger could play ABBA in her own room rather than in the living room. No, it wasn’t an act of kindness or generosity. I just hated ABBA so much that I’d rather have given away a £300 stereo system than listen to them.
I’ve mellowed a little since then, meaning that I can muster the will to give Alan Bonner’s mini-album of ABBA covers a listen with a view to giving it a fair hearing.
The seven songs on here, which tend to be lesser-known selections with the ecception of ‘The Winner Takes it All’, are from the stage show Bonner was due to premier at the Brighton Fringe Festival, and put a very theatrical, ‘stagey’ spin on the songs, using acoustic instrumentation comprising of piano, violin, cello, cajon, and guitar. With the songs slowed, and Bonner brooding and emoting, the melancholy aspects of the original lyrics are emphasised, and the treatment very much feels like songs from a musical.
I’ll confess to being about as much of a fan of musicals as I am of ABBA, but the arrangements do work well, and the songs take on the quality of vignettes that form part of a larger narrative – meaning that as ABBA covers go, these are pretty good.