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ABBA in Japan Concert DVD from 1978


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A must for Abba fans everywhere, ABBA IN JAPAN captures a high-profile television special the group made for Japanese television in 1978 which became a highly successful promotional exercise. Having conquered Britain, Europe and Australia by this time, as well as scoring a few notable hits in America, Japan had so far remained somewhat immune to Abba's charms. Everything changed with a helping hand from this efficient but lavish-looking television extravaganza, after which the Japanese also took Abba to their hearts.

After thirty years the footage looks great and although most of the tracks are merely mimed to by the group, the likes of 'Money, Money, Money' and 'Thank You For The Music' are performed live with an orchestra and they come across very effectively indeed. A couple of the performances do suffer from rather intrusive dance routines, where the dancers are featured in front of Abba which places the group in the background for much of the time, but this is a minor quibble overall; anyway Agnetha and Frida look great throughout the proceedings! The special features a nice cross section of Abba's hits and some selected album cuts, including the majestic 'Eagle' and the stunning 'If It Wasn't For The Nights', and so it's little wonder that the Japanese were bowled over. I was half expecting to see a typically hyperactive Japanese television host coming on between the songs but mercifully the producers let Abba perform the introductions themselves - and in touching style too.

The behind-the-scenes documentary featured as an extra on the DVD is also interesting. Clearly, this is not going to be Abba's take on The Rolling Stones' GIMME SHELTER movie, but it nevertheless provides a worthy insight into the frenetic life of a pop group undertaking the sometimes unpredictable duties of promotion. Through the 20-minute film, we see Abba going through the prerequisite appearances on radio and attending press conferences, while conversely at one point they seem to be attempting to flatten large pieces of dough with enormous mallets in front of the assembled spectators! Well edited, the documentary echoes the hectic schedule of Abba's ten-day visit to Japan as they prepared to film the television special.

There doesn't seem to be a huge amount of Abba DVDs on the market, but ABBA IN JAPAN goes some way to redressing the balance. A beautifully shot film capturing Abba at their peak.

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