When Phil Collins produced Frida's solo album at the height of ABBA's turmoil in 1982

2 November 2021, 17:49

Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Phil Collins
Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Phil Collins. Picture: Epic/Universal

By Tom Eames

In 1982, one of ABBA's stars decided to bring in one of the world's biggest rockstars to help produce their next solo album, acting as a distraction from the tensions mounting in the band.

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ABBA star Anni-Frid Lyngstad had already released two solo albums before: 1971's Frida was released before she joined ABBA, and then 1975's Frida Alone, released soon after the group took off. Both LPs were produced by her then-husband and bandmate Benny Andersson.

Fast-forward to 1982, and she was ready to record her third solo effort. By this point, ABBA had become the biggest pop band on the planet.

However, things were not quite right within the band. Frida and Benny had divorced the year before, and the group's other couple, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltksog had also split.

Read more: How ABBA's two marriages and divorces split the group apart for nearly 40 years

ABBA were officially still together, but their album from the year before, The Visitors, would turn out to be their final studio release before splitting up.

Seven years after her previous solo album, Frida took on the album Something‘s Going On. Instead of her ex-husband however, she turned to Phil Collins to produce it.

It would be a masterstroke. Phil hadn't produced much by other artists at this stage of his career, but by 1982 he had cemented himself as a true chart king on both sides of the Atlantic, with hits such as 'In the Air Tonight' and 'You Can't Hurry Love'.

“Money has nothing to do with this," Frida told Billboard. "I still enjoy singing, and this was an attempt to do something different from what I usually do with the group. I enjoyed working with Phil. I would do it again.”

Something's Going On featured a harder-edged and more rocky sound than her previous music with ABBA, and it also included Phil's famous reverb drum sound.

Phil said at the time of the album's release that they shared a bond: "Frida and I had something in common as far as our divorces were concerned. We were both the injured party."

Read more: Phil Collins recalls the time George Harrison played the biggest prank on him

Record label Polar Music sent out invitations to companies around the world, announcing Frida's album plans and asking for songs. The response saw over 500 songs arrive, with even Elvis Costello seeing his entry ('I Turn Around') get rejected.

Other artists who saw tracks added to the final list included Bryan Ferry, Stephen Bishop, Rod Argent and Russ Ballard. Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte's piece 'To Turn the Stone' was originally written for Donna Summer.

Frida also asked Per Gessle, later from Roxette, to set Dorothy Parker's poem 'Threnody' to music.

There was also a cover of Phil's Face Value track 'You Know What I Mean', while 'Here We'll Stay' had previously been recorded by singer Sonia Jones for the UK selection for the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. It was recorded as a duet with Phil Collins, but he wasn't credited.

Speaking in his autobiography Not Dead Yet, Phil Collins wrote about the experience, recalling the time Benny and Bjorn dropped by: "One day while recording at Polar, Benny and Björn come to visit. It’s a little awkward, to say the least. They’re naturally rather possessive.

"Frida is somewhat fragile, the divorce is still reverberating, they’ve produced her all her adult career, and now, professionally speaking, she has a new man in her life. A man who’s producing, playing drums, singing with her and giving her a far rockier sound than ABBA ever had.

Read more: ABBA's final ever TV performance singing 'Thank You for the Music' is so moving

"And why is the album called Something’s Going On? No one knows at the time that ABBA won’t outlast the year, but the writing is on the wall."

Phil also shared a story about their manager wasn't too pleased about the album, saying: "Maybe that’s why Stig Anderson, the band’s manager and owner of Polar Music, is such an arsehole.

"Once the album is finished, he invites us all to his house for dinner. When we arrive he’s completely drunk. We listen to Something’s Going On, and at the end he snorts, ‘Is that it?’ Frida bursts into tears, and we all want to thump him."

The album was met with a positive reception by critics and fans, with sales over 1.5 million copies, making it the best-selling solo record of any of the ABBA members.

ABBA have since reunited for their long-awaited follow-up album to The Visitors, Voyage.