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Very Compressed Remastering --- Not For Audiophiles
on February 14, 2015
What I hoped for:
I had the Abba Gold CD and wanted to get "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" and a couple other songs. I wanted good sound quality and had read some bad reviews about both Abba Gold and More Abba Gold. Then I saw this collection of all their albums packaged together for about $30 with reviews of having good sound. I opted for that, intending to burn a single CD of my favourite songs together.
Upon comparing the sound with the Abba Gold CD and using my computer to see the audio files I have to say I am very disappointed yet again. Too often people say the sound is better because it is made louder (louder sounds fuller to them). However, to make it louder usually requires compressing the music's dynamics and squishing it. If that was not part of the original sound of the music, it should never be part of the remastered sound. It's the same as reducing the number/clarity/contrast of colours in a picture to make everything brighter. The Abba Gold CD has a bit of compression but this collection is very compressed.
What's missing for Abba fans:
I still think this collection offers quite a bargain for its price for most fans, who just want all the albums and will like it it because it sounds louder. The main complaint I've read from completists is that the only thing missing is the 1 live album. They argue that the live album should have been included and that all the songs on the bonus CD should have been spread out on the individual album CD's since there is obviously much room remaining on each of those CD's to fit bonus songs. By doing that it would have been a perfect Abba collection.
What you get:
You get a box that houses 9 CD's and a 40-page booklet. The CD's are the 8 original studio albums plus 1 bonus CD, all apparently remastered from the studio masters and packaged in miniature album replica cardboard sleeves. Everything fits well into the box, which is only slightly taller than a regular CD case and should fit onto your CD shelf. The bonus CD has 17 songs. Most are B-sides of hit singles. A couple are the singles versions of songs (as opposed to the album version, which may be longer or have a different mix). And a couple are the original Swedish versions of the songs. The booklet has fine quality paper and lots of pictures but could have more thorough notes about the history of the band and the songs. It mainly has a time line of the band's career and a page for each album. I'm glad there's at least a page listing all the musicians on the albums.
I have mixed feelings about miniature album sleeve replicas. It is cool to have the original artwork. However, the writing here is too small to read... even with my glasses on!!!! Also, while it is neat to see songs listed as "Side 1" and Side 2" I wish CD track numbers were also added beside each song. As for the music itself, I wasn't (and still am not) a big fan of Abba. Before purchasing this collection I had never owned or heard any of their albums. Based on the many hit songs I heard on the radio I was hoping to discover more musical gems. Honestly, the hits we already know are the best the band has to offer and very few other album tracks come anywhere near the same quality. Abba had a lot of hit songs and many of their hit songs are truly pop masterpieces but after hearing this collection, I truly don't believe Abba to be an album band. Maybe those people who like modern pop musicals will be able to listen to these albums but anyone who grew up on classic rock albums will cringe at most of these. Half the studio albums have no hits or just 1 hit; the more popular albums have 2-4 hits. I think the girls have wonderful voices but I cannot listen to songs sung by the guys alone. Benny and Bjorn are great writers and producers and arrangers and tasteful musicians but it would have been far better to let the girls sing lead on everything.