Releases & publications
Live material & related content
Officially released live audio material is quite a tragic, sometimes also a rather ashaming aspect in ABBA's history all throughout. There even isn't a soundtrack for ABBA The Movie with complete versions of the songs used in the film.
However, there have been ideas for live albums more than once.
After the 1977 tour, the first real discussions about an ABBA live album took place. Most of the feature film ABBA – The Movie had been filmed in Australia, and in conjunction, a 24-track soundtrack of the concert performances had also been recorded. At one point, there was talk of making the upcoming album a double package, with one disc a new studio LP and the other a live album from the Australian tour. Alas, this was not to be: apart from a Sydney recording of I Wonder (Departure) being featured on the B-side of ABBA’s The Name Of The Game single in October 1977, only a few excerpts of songs from the tour were released on a limited edition flexi-disc at the end of the year.
In Focus: ABBA On Stage by Carl Magnus Palm
ABBA were considering a (double) live album release, probably for February/March 1980, but those plans were dumped by the ABBA members, apparently because of too many songs being on the album Greatest Hits Vol. 2 already. Well, whatever the logic behind this was...
In 1981 Agnetha and Frida mentioned new ideas for a live album during a Dutch TV interview, but as we know this didn't happen either. Björn was asked about this topic in an interview:
What about touring? Does this inhibit you musically because I mean from an audience point of view and the guy on the radio listening to records all the time there’s no way that you can ever match at the actual performance with the sound of the studio, Do you find that this inhibits you musically sometimes?
Well, not really. I mean we come to... I think a lot of people realise when they go to a concert it’s different, it’s somthing else than listening to a record. It’s a totally different medium and people realise that the sound is not going to the same as on the records. You might be near the record sometimes, but not the same.
Is this one of the reasons why you never produced a live album like so many other people?
Well, the reason for that has been that we haven’t found it, listening to the tapes after the concerts, ourselves, we’ve been very, very critical, and we didn’t think, sort of it, it was interesting enough. But lately we’ve been discussing a live album anyway because from the point of view that... I mean the listeners and the people that have been at the concerts, for them it’s something different. It’s the atmosphere I guess that they are after. That maybe is the reason to release a live album one day.
Björn on BFBS radio in 1981
A recent example for the weird and sad situation is that the live video snippets in the otherwise great documentary included in ABBA In Japan Limited Edition even are dubbed with studio audio. Again a chance was missed by not editing this documentary to publish some snippets at least.
2014 finally(!) saw the release of a proper live album, featuring an almost complete and unaltered Wembley concert with leaving out only the Tomas Ledin number. Hopefully this album will be joined by albums and recordings from other tours one day.
According to a schedule published in spring 2014 also a 15-minute bit of the concerts at Royal Albert Hall (1977) was planned to be released in 2014. Details about the actual content are unknown and in the end there was no such release that year. Later plans of releasing any 1977 material again were shelved. The release of live material prior to 1977 is not even rumored anyway.