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Info 101: Musicbits 55: A is still for Agnetha

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"A" by Agnetha Faltskog

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"A" by Agnetha Faltskog on Verve

The blue-eyed Swwedish blond girl with the flawless soprano voice spent eleven years with ABBA (1971-1982). Paired with mezzo-soprano Anni-Frid Lynstad, the two of them dominated the charts on 30-some singles, many of them mega-hits. It was arguably the greatest pairing of two female voices ever and will stand as such indefinitely. What's even more remarkable is that from 1968-1972, Agnetha also had 18 solo singles chart in Sweden and the UK, some of them staying on the charts longer than her work with ABBA.

Agnetha's solo career petered out by 1988, causing her to take a hiatus which lasted through 2004 when she emerged with the successful collection of rock oldies "My Colouring Book". Despite the success of that release and a few limited appearances, she did very little to promote it and now, nearly ten years later, Ms. Faltskog is back with "A", a new collection of songs. Ten songs to be exact.

As sporadic as this may seem, Ms. Faltskog has a knack for choosing material that suits her vocal range. Her voice is still strong at 63 and her range is barely diminished. Although she co-wrote only one track, the rest are written by people she's known for years, most of them by Jergen Elofsson.

There are no clunkers and most of the songs could've been non-single album cuts on any ABBA album. "The One Who Loves You Now", "When You Really Loved Someone" and "I Keep Them on the Floor Beside My Bed" are strong enough to be singles. All three feature strong vocals, catchy hooks and great melodies which are compatible with her best previous material. Even the near-disco "Dance Your Pain Away" would stand up against things like "Voulez Vous" or "Summer Night City".

For hardcore fans, it's great just to hear new material sung by that voice. It's always a pleasure, even here in America, the land where only "Dancing Queen" was a #1 hit. There's nothing like that on this CD meaning it will appeal mainly to hardcore fans--which is fine. It makes us more special.

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