Abba, “Love Isn’t Easy (But it Sure is Hard Enough)”

About a year ago, I began posting videos from YouTube under the heading Song of The Week, occasionally with commentary, more often without much. Going forward, I’d like to try out a series of these under a new heading, Obscurity Knocks: lesser-known singles and album tracks by well-known artists.

Beginning chronologically naturally means kicking it off with Abba. Although few could deny the fearless foursome’s worth as a singles band, their catalogue contains a lot of hidden gems–not necessarily consistent albums, mind you, but surely enough to produce a compilation at least half as great as Abba Gold (Abba Silver?). Take this single from their first album, Ring Ring, released about a year prior to their international breakthrough “Waterloo”. Although as grating and cheery as a chewing-gum commercial and containing a grammatically clumsy title that will appease the band’s skeptics where their “English as a second language” lyrics are concerned, the song still showcases Benny and Bjorn’s way with a hook. Actually, multiple hooks: the ladies’ commanding bridge to the chorus, the BOOM! right before the title (wonderfully accentuated by the ladies in the video above), xylophone precisely highlighting each note of said title, and the lovely “sweet, sweet, our love is bittersweet” harmonies immediately following it.

It would all teeter towards an excess of dopey aw-gosh bubblegum love song-ness if it weren’t so tightly constructed. In hindsight, knowing that within the next decade each couple in the band would split makes the song a little more perceptive than it initially seems. According to Wikipedia, it didn’t seem to chart anywhere; although not nearly as sophisticated, it’s almost the earlier, happier flipside to “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

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