Each month we handpick a collection of reissues, limited editions or just straight classic long-players that deserve a place in any record collection; this time it’s ABBA’s sparkly and splendiferous Greatest Hits, C.W. Stoneking’s 2009 ARIA-winning flabbergaster, and more!
Some music fans dismiss ABBA as the pinnacle of rosy-cheeked, bubble-gum superficiality – but the four-piece were, and remain, so much more than those dismissive epithets. The Gold compendium is pudding-proof that the colossally successful band crafted a glorious, incandescent body of work; it contains so much melodic serotonin that it’s almost impossible to see naysayers as doing anything other than stubbornly denying themselves guilt-free pleasure.
Gold includes tracks from ’73 debut Ring Ring, second album Waterloo (whose title track won ABBA the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest and flung them into global fame), ’75’s ABBA (SOS and Mamma Mia), ’76’s Arrival (Dancing Queen; Money, Money, Money; Fernando), ’77’s The Album (Take a Chance on Me, Thank You for the Music), ’79’s Voulez-Vous (Chiquitita, Does Your Mother Know), ’80’s Super Trouper (The Winner Takes It All), and ’81’s The Visitors (One of Us).
To listen to these expressions of desire, lament, circumspection, flat-out joy and poignant resignation (The Winner Takes It All for most heartbreaking pop hit ever, anyone?) on vinyl is a truly delicious experience; the purity and warmth of Agnetha and Anni-Frid’s voices, locked in step with discerning and sprightly instrumentation from Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, is – to put it mildly – transportive.
TOP TRACK: Dancing Queen
FAST FACT: Though ABBA have never won a Grammy (yet – their track I Still Have Faith in You
from 2021 album Voyage may win at the April ceremony this year, via its nomination in the Record of the Year category), their track Dancing Queen was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015.
2X SILVER VINYL
By the time this, Twenty One Pilots’ fourth album, came about, the Columbus Ohio rap pop duo had the confidence to branch out into darker sonic territory. It was their breakthrough into the big time. The journey across four sides of vinyl kicks off with funky drummer beats and piano (Heavydirtysoul) then on to multilayered synths on super-catchy Stressed Out, gives ska vibes (Ride), then instrumental sparseness on Fairly Local – and that’s just the first four tracks! The rest of the Blurryface trip bounces around just as adventurously, with drum machine-snapping pop bangers bumping up against rapid-fire rap tracks and the always-welcome occasional outbreak of rousing la-la-las.
TOP TRACK: Tear in My Heart
FAST FACT: Blurryface became the first album in history on which every track received at least a gold certification. Their earlier big label debut, Vessel, later repeated the feat.
Unaware as to what Mr Stoneking’s vibe is and unleashing album opener (and title track) Jungle Blues, if it weren’t for the lack of a wall of old-time crackles and pops then you’d swear that you’d dug up a classic Dixieland relic that should be spinning at 78 rpm.
The opening line claims, “…who knows what strange wonders await…?”, and it certainly is a fascinating trip into the mind of a self-confessed “bullsh-t artist” that makes for often astonishing listening. Ukuleles plink, banjos plunk, brass bands warble and cymbals crash, until the album closer The Greatest Liar, a rambling, mostly spoken word piece that just underlines the wonderfully silly journey which the listener has just partaken.
TOP TRACK: The Love Me or Die
FAST FACT: Stoneking was classmates with Alex Lloyd at a Sydney high school, and the pair sometimes jammed together.
This Vegas combo with the curiously placed exclamation mark aimed to prove that emo was not a dirty word with this debut long-player that lobbed in 2005, and double platinum sales proved that they were onto something. You think that sentence was long? Try some of these song titles: The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage, London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines and this doozy, Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off. A dozen generally upbeat tracks (plus a quick intro) demonstrate singer Brendan Urie’s highly-strung style, and no matter where you drop the needle, you’ll find something that’s catchy.
TOP TRACK: I Write Sins Not Tragedies
FAST FACT: The band began posting demos online in 2004, and were signed to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz’s label Decaydance without ever having performed live.