Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mr. Music ~ Jerry Osborne

I am continuing our new feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2008), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the reprints.


DEAR JERRY: During my pre-teen and teenage years in the late '70s and early '80s, I was a huge fan of ABBA. I loved ABBA and I still do, and think of myself as an ABBA expert who has forgotten more than most people knew, especially in the U.S.

On their “Voulez-Vous” LP, that I bought in the summer of 1979, I distinctly remember one of the tracks being “Summer Night City.”

Now I'm starting to wonder if I'm losing it because every source I've checked makes no mention of that track on “Voulez-Vous.”

Still, it does make sense since “Fernando” wasn't originally on the first (1976) “Greatest Hits” LP. It was added to later pressings after it became a big hit single.

Can you please clear this up for me? I'm going nuts here.
—William Simmons, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR WILLIAM: So I hear. It's not easy to keep this kind of thing secret.

I must side with the rest of the world, which says there are but 10 tracks on the original “Voulez-Vous” album:

(Side A): “As Good As New”; “Voulez-Vous”; “I Have a Dream”; “Angeleyes”; “The King Has Lost His Crown.”

(Side B): “Does Your Mother Know”; “If It Wasn't for the Nights”; “Chiquitita”; “Lovers (Live a Little Longer)”; “Kisses of Fire.”

I also examined “Voulez-Vous” albums from such diverse areas as Mexico, Germany, Russia, and Korea, all of which have the same 10 tracks. I even checked cassettes, 8-tracks, and reel-to-reel tapes. Same story.

Since the ABBA album after “Voulez-Vous” is “Greatest Hits, Vol. 2” (December 1979), and it includes “Summer Night City,” we must, however unlikely, consider the possibility your memory has transposed these two releases.

As you know, the 2001 Remastered Limited Edition “Voulez-Vous” compact disc adds three “bonus tracks not found on the original LP”: “Summer Night City”; “Lovelight”; and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” I'd say they got it right.

DEAR JERRY: At a yard sale I noticed tiny record, about two inches in diameter, in an equally tiny picture sleeve. Appropriately, the manufacturer is named Mighty Tiny Records.

Though a gorgeous blonde is the only person pictured, the sleeve credits a group called the Harmonettes, and gives the title as “Honey Tones.”

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Are there others like this one? Did they ever make a mighty tiny record player?
—Drew Davidson, Detroit, Mich.

DEAR DREW: Yes, yes, and yes.

Created in Cincinnati by Ohio Art/Poynter Products, Inc., this short-lived example of failed technology came and went in 1967.

The records, all of which are by people you've never heard of, were sold in themed four-packs. The two sealed packs I have seen are “Rock'n Roll & Popular” (Harmonettes; Musical Squares; Amy Wilson and Her Guitar), and “Foreign Music” (German Folk Polka; Italiano Strings; Arab Desert Dance; and African Drums).

They made a few others, all labeled “Mighty Tiny Records for the World's Smallest Record Player,” which answers your last question.

In fact, they made two players: a Mighty Tiny hand-held portable, which looks like a Star Trek communicator, and a table-top console called a Stereoper. Buyers of either player also received a starter kit of three records.

The biggest complaints about the battery-powered Mighty Tiny system are its inability to maintain a consistent playing speed, and the dreadful — albeit varied — selection of music.

IZ ZAT SO? Widely known is ABBA's phenomenal success that began in the United States in the summer of '74 with the release of “Waterloo.”

Not nearly as well known is what happened in the two years before Björn Ulvaeus; Benny Andersson; Agnetha Fältskog; and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (a.k.a. Frida) became ABBA and met their “Waterloo.”

This foursome's first single, “People Need Love” (Polar 1156), was already a hit in Sweden, credited to Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid.

In July '72, Hugh Hefner's fledging Playboy label picked up “People Need Love” for distribution in the U.S.

Inexplicably, Playboy shortened the artist credit line to “Björn & Benny (with Svenska Flicka).”

Whether they erroneously thought “Agnetha & Anni-Frid” to be just one person we don't know, but the credit on this single (Playboy 10018) translates as “Björn & Benny (with Swedish Girl).”

Another possibility is they may have simply disregarded the Norwegian-born Frida, and not used the plural “Svenska Flickor” (Swedish Girls).

“People Need Love” made a bit of a blip on the national level so Playboy followed with a couple more Björn & Benny singles in late 1973 and early '74. These are two separate releases of “Another Town, Another Train” (Playboy 100023 and 10025), and neither clicked with stateside dee jays.

Then came the name change, “Waterloo,” and an endless series of trains and towns for ABBA.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

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