Books about ABBA and related subjects

ABBA biographies, musical examinations and pictorial surveys

Review extracts

published April 01, 2010

"Palm's book achieves the difficult feat of capturing the multiple layers of Abba - as individuals, as two married couples, as a showbusiness phenomenon and a commercial enterprise - with a deftness unusual in a rock biography. ... lucid and unpretentious, avoiding the hysteria and shoddiness that have brought the genre into disrepute."

Adam Sweeting, Sunday Times (UK), September 2, 2001

"The first authoritative biography of the biggest pop act of the '70s."

Bernard Zuel, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), September 5, 2001

"A melancholy insight into the gulf between dreams and reality."

Michael Dwyer, Stuff (New Zealand), September 9, 2001

"Bright Lights, Dark Shadows [is] almost certainly the definitive tome on the rather kitsch Seventies icons who just won't go away. ... a remarkable piece of research ... Palm chronicles the very organic development of the group and the eventual meshing of a musical tour de force with considerable skill."

Gavin McGuren, Shout Magazine (Australia), September 9, 2001

"Delves deep into the Abba archives, exploding popular myths and revealing intimate insights into the backgrounds and personal struggles of [Abba and] their mercurial manager, Stig Anderson."

Tamara Hunter, The West Australian, September 11, 2001

"The first serious biography about [Abba] ... the first to portray the group in a new light. ... [T]his book is revealing in more than one way. It gets closer to the main characters than they themselves ever allowed during their heyday. And it succeeds in analyzing the strategics behind the biggest Swedish export product ever."

Adriano Sack, Welt am Sonntag (Germany), September 30, 2001

"[A] brilliant biography ... 'Bright Lights, Dark Shadows' is an astonishingly thorough and detailed book...that combines the scholarly rigour of the historian with the implicit understanding of the fan. And most important of all, it doesn't stop treating Abba as a subject worthy of such serious consideration for a second."

Dusty Studd, Beat Magazine (Australia), September 2001

"It tells the REAL story of ABBA - not gossip, not made up 'catfights' between Agnetha and Frida - just the complete factual story. Bright Lights, Dark Shadows doesn't need to delve into the realm of fantasy because the truth is so amazing it speaks for itself."

Graeme Read, ABBAMAIL (Internet site), October 2, 2001

"An extraordinary book ... Dancing Queen will never sound the same again." (4 stars out of 5)

John Mullen, Q Magazine (UK), November 2001

"A compelling and incredibly detailed account of [Abba's] rise and demise. ...essential reading for anyone wondering what the pop world looked like in the 1970s."

Jim Irvin, Mojo (UK), November 2001

"The material documenting their last couple of albums and attendant marital disputes is ... incredibly gripping. There's no Rock'n'Roll decadence and debauchery here ... but it's no less painful or fascinating for that."

Martin Herron, Get Rhythm (UK), November 2001

"It's all in the book ... This tells you everything, this is beyond thorough ... absolutely definitive ... It's very good on the mechanics of the success of ABBA, the songwriting, the business side, the pressures on the group, the fame ... [The book] is interesting on the music: the fact that they acknowledge Brian Wilson and Phil Spector as their musical influences, which you can hear in the music. You 'hear' how these wonderful, seamless pop hits were constructed, you read all about that - very, very thorough on that ... [Stig Anderson] was a tremendous influence on the group ... and that is thoroughly chronicled in the book."

Patrick Humphries, BBC Radio 2 Arts Programme (UK), November 16, 2001

"Remarkable ... [paints] a picture more evocative and accurate than previous works [about ABBA] ... The author has succeeded in portraying [the four members] in depth, along with their prominent associate Stig Anderson, as well as building up a vivid picture of the milieu in which the various players moved. ... Bright Lights, Dark Shadows is an illuminating story, providing the reader not just with the story of a single group of people, but bringing a whole era - specifically the uneasy, vivid 70s - to brightly-coloured life. It's a deeply impressive work, and unreservedly recommended."

Joel McIver, Record Collector (UK), December 2001

"Palm takes great care with the details: not least the time before the breakthrough in 1974, when the music and entertainment business was somewhat haphazardly run and not taken seriously on a financial level, which makes for exciting reading. ... Palm's prose is uncomplicated, easy to read and well-structured."

Jörgen Hammenskog, Bibliotekstjänst (Sweden), December 2001

"The first proper ABBA biography ... Gripping."

Gay Times (UK), December 1, 2001

"The influence of Swedish society on ABBA's career is clearly shown and lends an interesting historical angle to the first few chapters. ... After reading this ... listening to the music is not going to be the same thing again. The melancholy, goosebumps-inducing parts of the songs become stronger and instead of "only" hearing the typical ABBA sound, all of a sudden there are five personalities [the group and Stig Anderson] you have before your eyes and in your ears."

Fredrik B Nilsson, Musikindustrin (Sweden), December 7, 2001

"In his [book], Carl Magnus Palm relates the quartet's both adventurous and bizarre story. After several nonsensical and gossipy attempts, the world has now got its first major ABBA biography."

Erik Jensen, Politiken (Denmark), December 29, 2001

"...describes in meticulous detail [the Abba members'] transformation from schlager artists to international stars ... [This book] is a pioneering work. ... the first serious ABBA book. "

Håkan Lahger, Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), December 31, 2001

"... places the group in a historical perspective in a way which has not been done before. ... [a] brilliant, pioneering biography."

Martin Hermens, Noord Hollands Dagblad (The Netherlands), January 17, 2002

"Another fine addition to the canon of music biographies ... Palm's biography is extremely thorough and dipped deeply in a pond of melancholy. A powerful, moving read. ... Best Buy [for Christmas]."

Paul Connolly, The Times (UK), December 7, 2002

"For all the many ABBA fans this book is certainly an absolute 'must-have' if they want to satisfy their needs to know as much as possible about the band. But also for others, who did not know that much about the four Swedes so far, this is a perfect vehicle to gain some insight."

Kai Schmidt, Bloom (Germany), March 19, 2003

"Carl Magnus Palm's book is the most detailed and thorough biography ever written about the band. It tells the COMPLETE story. And this story at times reads like something Ingmar Bergman has directed. Full of tragedies and triumph, romance, light and shadows.", April 24, 2003

"The Stockholm-born author is perfectly placed to tell the group's story in admirable detail from the very start, and the early chapters dealing with Benny and Björn's tentative steps in the music industry are especially engrossing. ... Abba's impact on Sweden's culture and economy, something rarely touched on in other books, is put under the microscope, as is the often painful toll superstardom took on its main players, including their volatile manager Stig Anderson."

Terry Staunton, Record Collector (UK), October 2008

Bright Lights Dark Shadows - The Real Story Of ABBA by Carl Magnus Palm

Bright Lights Dark Shadows - The Real Story Of ABBA. Revised and updated edition published by Omnibus Press, January 30, 2014. English language. 600 pp. Paperback. ISBN: 1783053593.