23
Jul 08

ABBA – “Take A Chance On Me”

FT + Popular56 comments • 3,856 views

#419, 18th February 1978

“Take A Chance On Me” couldn’t be more different from “The Name Of The Game”: here it’s the beloved who’s shy and afraid, and the singer who radiates confidence and amused self-security. “You don’t want to hurt me? Baby don’t worry, I ain’t gonna let you.”  The song is a typically ABBA-ish twist on a well-worn romantic situation: a rejected suitor pleading their case. Many writers would assume a hurt or hangdog perspective – instead “Take A Chance” is absurdly buoyant. Come on, it says, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s one of ABBA’s most straight-up joyous hits, brimful of an inspirational strength.

It’s also a step back from “The Name Of The Game”‘s complexity – the rhythm is “Dancing Queen” redux (though with a little more pep), and like that song it leads with its steamroller chorus. The simplicity here’s a little deceptive, though – that wonderful a capella rhythm line is as bold a stroke as you’ll find on any of their records, and the flashing, bubbling keyboards show that Benny and Bjorn had been paying attention to Moroder’s advances. But that’s really all secondary to the song’s effervescence, with the girls’ hammy semi-spoken bits summing the whole thing up: this is a band having casually brilliant fun.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    DJ Punctum on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I didn’t because it came out the same week as “Chant No 1,” one of only two decent records Spandau Ballet ever made. But in the end both were defeated by *SPOILER BUNNY EDIT*

  2. 27
    katstevens on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I’m finding it very interesting reading everyone’s comments to the ABBA entries: Apart from Eurovision at the beginning and Divorce Horror at the end, I just have no idea what order everything came in the middle! Although they may have just as much variety in their music, I find the Beatles’ different styles seem to tie the songs down much more strongly to a particular year (perhaps because they eventually WERE the style of said year? Hmmm). But I can’t pin down what ABBA goes where (despite arguably knowing more ABBA hits than Beatles hits!). This could be 1978 or 1975 or 1981 for all I know. So it’s good to read everyone’s experiences and get a feel for what exactly they are soundtracking here, and give my mental timeline something to latch onto.

  3. 28
    Mark G on 24 Jul 2008 #

    It basically comes down to their use of and command of the english language. Better later, rudimentary at first. This being the midpoint, probably the best use of it.

  4. 29
    Billy Smart on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Number two watch: ‘Come Back My Love’ by Darts, for a week.

  5. 30
    Dan R on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Oh and I love that just when you think the song has given you every last drop of golden pleasure it’s going to and that its ideas are exhausted, they launch into the ba-ba-ba-ba-ba version of the chorus. It feels like one of those moments when giddy loving enthusiasm overflows the boundaries of words themselves.

  6. 31
    Doctor Casino on 24 Jul 2008 #

    Ten. TEN. TEN!!!!!

  7. 32
    Doctor Casino on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I mean, really. Everybody’s said it all already so that’s all I’ve got. The best song by a thousand miles on the mixtape my first girlfriend gave me some eight and a half years ago.

  8. 33
    fivelongdays on 24 Jul 2008 #

    I always thought she sang ‘you say you’ll hurt me/Radio Wurtly’, and fondly imagining that Wurtly was a part of Sweden where, erm, one of them had a radio show. Or something.

  9. 34
    rosie on 24 Jul 2008 #

    fivelongdays @ 33: Whereas those of us with fond memories of growing up with old valve radios know that it was not Wurtly, but Sundsvall and Motala.

  10. 35
    The Intl on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Is left-side-guy wearing clogs? Cool. Takes me back, clogs & baggies – though NOT IN 1978!!
    I totally appreciate ABBA for the pop force they were. But nowadays I wish the play/movie never existed. Until the ABBA revvivval all the suburban housewives were all nostalgic over Sat Nite Fever. Now it’s this. Four Seasons mania coming as soon as the film gets made.

  11. 36
    Conrad on 25 Jul 2008 #

    For me, 1978 is Abba’s zenith. For this record, but more particularly, Summer Night City, an absolute belter of a track that I have heard referred to – in almost derisory tones – as Abba jumping on the Disco bandwagon. Er…errant nonsense of course.

    SNC is as thrilling and uplifting as pop gets. A shimmering, towering production and arrangement.

    Take A Chance, wondrous though it is, doesn’t quite scale those heights. A 9 for me.

  12. 37
    DJ Punctum on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Oh, and another thing about SNC – they are quite clearly singing “walking in the moonlight”…

  13. 38
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 25 Jul 2008 #

    when nme talked to abba round the time of the upcoming SNC, the interviewer — entirely forget who — referred to it as “summer fight fever” and benny or bjorn corrected him a bit snippily, and the interviewer said “b-but it says here summer night FEVER” and showed him the press material and it DID! And bjorn and benny scampered away to get angrily on the phone to get the press material corrected!

    so i think this “disco bandwagon” problem was in everyone’s heads at the time, including their own staff

  14. 39
    LondonLee on 25 Jul 2008 #

    Speaking as a graphic designer I’d like to note that – clogs notwithstanding – that sleeve looks surprisingly modern (especially compared to some of the other horrors we’ve seen here lately). The orange rectangle centered over the photo and minimalist typography looks like it could have been done last week by some trendy London firm.

  15. 40
    SteveM on 25 Jul 2008 #

    yeah i did wonder about that myself when i sourced the picture. the typeface used for the song title looks like Rockwell but no idea how old that is.

  16. 41
    jeff w on 25 Jul 2008 #

    I think with Wuthering and Matchstalk we’ve finally arrived in the era where UK picture sleeves for singles are more likely than not. And hurrah for that.

  17. 42
    SteveM on 25 Jul 2008 #

    but no more ‘Top Hit In England’ SEAL OF QUALITY

  18. 43
    fivelongdays on 25 Jul 2008 #

    SNC – on the list of Abba songs I actually like!

  19. 44
    Tracer Hand on 26 Jul 2008 #

    As an American just slightly too young to have grown up with Abba, I find myself on the outside looking in with their music. “Mamma Mia!”, this song and all the rest — I can hear WHY people like it but I don’t like it myself. To these ears, it’s got the same enforced zeal to its fun as the worst of Junior Senior. Headache juice.

  20. 45
    intothefireuk on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Efficient, bouncy, effervescent, bubblegum pop but ultimately not very satisfying. ABBA were now able to have hits for fun so it was almost inevitable this would top the charts. The bubbly, brassy, modulated synth sound, still so loved by our Euro friends, sets my teeth on edge though. 6

  21. 46
    Matthew H on 28 Jul 2008 #

    The first record big sis bought, so forms some sort of benchmark for me and my take on pop; I imagine I’ve often measured really great singles against this and many come up short. It’s so gorgeously layered and crystal clear.

    B-side ‘I’m A Marionette’ was positively avant-garde as far as we were concerned.

  22. 47
    Chris Brown on 10 Aug 2008 #

    @27 – Yes, I had a bit of this too. I’ve learned the sequence of the Number Ones now, but I certainly didn’t get to know the songs in any sort of chronological order. I couldn’t exactly say why, but I think I’d probably call this my favourite.

    Never got ‘Summer Night City’ though.

  23. 48
    Billy Smart on 23 Dec 2008 #

    NMEWatch: 4th February 1978. Special guest reviewer Ian Dury – “Benny and Bjorn should really be producing Frankie Vaughan. Or Frankie Howerd. The bookmakers of light music are probably really good sports in real life. If this record was a racehorse it would fail its interview at the stud farm.”

    No single of the week was awarded. Also reviewed;

    Blondie – Denis
    Earth Wind & Fire – Fantasy
    Squeeze – Take Me I’m Yours
    Art Garfunkel, James Taylor & Paul Simon – What A Wonderful World
    Cliff Richard – Yes He Lives
    Buzzcocks – What Do I Get?

  24. 49
    Brooksie on 11 Feb 2010 #

    The sleeve also looks modern because of what they’re wearing; no platforms or bell-bottoms in sight. It could be ’83, which if course means it could also be 2010. The fact that it’s ’78 makes it more remarkable. Although, it does look ‘Disco’ enough to be contemporary to the late 70’s.

  25. 50
    DietMondrian on 14 May 2010 #

    Anyone else hear an echo of those “ba ba ba ba baas” in MGMT’s Time to Pretend?

  26. 51
    Brendan on 24 Sep 2012 #

    I remember my mum had a couple of spending sprees at the local record shop back in the day. The first was in 1978 when she bought this, another number 1 and ‘Ain’t Love a Bitch’ by Rod Stewart (clearly aiming to snatch Jagger’s world champion mysogynist title and proof that her tastes were so conservative she would buy any crap as long as she knew it was by a ‘safe’ singer). The second time was in 1982 which produced a rather bizarre selection that included another number 1, ‘Only You’ by Yazoo, ‘Da Da Da’ by Trio and ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ by Jon and Vangelis. I know we spent a long while in Germany in the meantime but it does seem strange to have such a long gap between those 2 occasions. Inevitably, the shop closed almost immediately afterwards unable to compete with Woolworth’s and a few other chain stores.

    As for this, I didn’t much care for it at the time but it has grown on me more than most of Abba’s work to the extent it is now my 2nd favourite of their number 1s, though I was blown away by ‘I’m a Marionette’ which had all the energy which so many of their hits patently lacked. I think even at the age of 6 I had a punk sensibility even if I didn’t know it at the time. Again, I agree with Tom, an 8 for me also.

  27. 52
    punctum on 24 Sep 2012 #

    The album is scary.

  28. 53
    Brendan on 24 Sep 2012 #

    correction – ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ was PhD

  29. 54
    hectorthebat on 24 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now! (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Gary Mulholland (UK) – This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock (2002)

  30. 55
    Larry on 16 Nov 2014 #

    Major Brady Bunch homage going on in the video.

  31. 56
    Inanimate Carbon God on 1 Mar 2015 #

    Re 35: Abba? And clogs? There can only be one destination!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogHDw2q2e-Q&t=1m21s

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