May 29th, 2012
ABBA, the Swedish pop quartet, enjoyed great international success in the 1970s and early 1980s. Through those years, ABBA turned out hit after bold pop hit, including “Dancing Queen”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Knowing Me, Knowing You”. With an incredible run of chart toppers for nearly a decade, there was demand for ABBA on CD in the early days of the format. Fortunately, the record labels that owned the rights to the ABBA catalog obliged ABBA fans and audiophiles alike.
In the early 1980s, the ABBA catalog was controlled in Europe and Japan by the Polydor and Polar labels, part of the Phonogram group. Polydor and Polar released many ABBA albums on CD, including compilations, in Europe starting in 1982. These CDs were pressed in West Germany by the Polygram plant. In fact, it is widely believed that the first commercial CD pressed by Polygram was ABBA’s 1981 album, The Visitors, released by Polydor under catalog number 800 011-2. The earliest West German pressings of The Visitors with an orange paint coating are highly desirable. Other early West German ABBA pressings on the Polydor and Polar labels are highly sought after as well.
At the time that CDs were introduced in North America, the ABBA catalog was controlled by Atlantic Records (part of WEA, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic). However, the rights to the catalog switched to Polydor shortly thereafter. Atlantic only released three ABBA albums on CD in the U.S.: the 1980 blockbuster Super Trouper, and the compilations, Greatest Hits and Greatest Hits Vol. 2. The two compilations exist as West German Target and U.S. Non-Target pressings, while Super Trouper exists only as a U.S. Non-Target pressing.
Among the Atlantic ABBA CDs issued in the U.S., Super Trouper is the rarest. Since it only exists as a U.S. Non-Target pressing, it appears as though Super Trouper was released shortly before the transfer of the ABBA catalog from Atlantic to Polydor. The Atlantic Super Trouper CD was released in 1985 or ’86 (unfortunately, the CD and accompanying inserts do not specify a copyright date pertaining to the CD release).
Super Trouper was pressed in the U.S. at WEA’s Specialty Records Corporation (SRC) plant. This CD was released in the U.S. under catalog number 16023-2. Particularly noteworthy is a very rare Canadian issue released under catalog number CD 16023. This disc was also pressed in the U.S. at the SRC plant, and while similar in appearance to the U.S. issue, bears some important differences. The Canadian release also has unique inserts.
The U.S. issue of Super Trouper is quite rare, and the Canadian issue appears to be even rarer. Considering their rarity and the great interest in ABBA that remains to this day, collectors typically pay a significant premium for these Super Trouper CDs.
Shown below are the inserts and CD for the Canadian Atlantic issue of Super Trouper.
The cover for the Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023). The same cover is found with other CD issues released over the years.
The back insert for the Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023). Note the Canadian copyright paragraph at the bottom.
A spine label for the Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023). Note that the font used for the catalog number does not match the font used for the rest of the text. This is because the spine label was first designed for the U.S. issue, and the typeset was later modified for the Canadian issue by changing the catalog number. The U.S. catalog number is 16023-2.
The Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023). Note the WEA Canada statement beneath the CD format logo at 3 o’clock. Although the disc does not state where it was made, inspection of the matrix code reveals it to be a U.S. SRC plant pressing. The matrix code is “3 16023-2 SRC-01”. The same matrix code is found on the U.S. issue.