April 24, 1995 12:00 PM


Two decades after making it worldwide with “Waterloo,” Abba still doesn’t get much respect. Yet we continue to sing along with these four Swedes who split in 1982. This four-CD set of hit singles, B-sides and assorted rarities is a good reminder why. Like that other Swedish fab foursome Ace of Base, Abba hooks you and refuses to let go. Sure, some of Disc 4’s previously un-released minutiae is clearly clutter: Does anyone really need to hear Abba warbling “On Top of Old Smokey” or “Ring Ring” performed in Swedish, Spanish and German? But Thank You does prove that Abba’s pop life was more than shrill harmonies, banal lyrics and tacky stage wear. While they were hardly boundary pushers, Abba flirted with Phil Spector-esque walls of sound on “Ring Ring” and other early tunes, a south-of-the-border twang on “Fernando” and even new-wave psychedelia on “The Visitors.” Granted, they never offered any real highbrow thrills, but that doesn’t make their pure-pop abandon any less thrilling. (Polydor)

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