Although the CD was relatively slow to challenge vinyl in the popularity stakes, a sizeable portion of the Abba back catalogue became available on CD in the first four years of the format’s existence. This was thanks largely to PolyGram, the owners of Polydor, one of Abba’s key European labels, and an early promoter of the format.
Indeed, by 1986, all Abba’s original Polar catalogue was available in Europe with the exception of the four earliest albums, Ring Ring, Waterloo, Abba and Greatest Hits Volume 1, as well as Gracias Por La Musica.
All of the post-Abba solo albums were also available on CD.
In the majority of territories, the CDs were Polar branded while some continental countries where the rights to the catalogue were licenced to PolyGram got Polydor labelled ones instead.
Towards the end of the 1980s, due presumably to declining sales, only Polydor branded CDs were produced and these were sent to all licensees. Some of these, however, continued to feature Polar packaging due to a stockpile from earlier printing runs.
The order of release
PolyGram made its way through the Abba in a rough reverse chronological order. In recognition of the group’s immense popularity in 1982, however, no fewer than five Abba related titles were among the first 100 PolyGram Pop CDs issued. Indeed, despite some rival claims, The Visitors appears to have been the first ever commercially available CD.
The order of release was:
The Visitors (released October 15, 1982)
Greatest Hits Volume 2 (1982)
Super Trouper (November 15, 1982)
The Singles – The First Ten Years (1982)
Frida: Something’s Going on (1983)
Agnetha: Wrap Your Arms Around Me (1983)
Arrival (April 11, 1984)
The Album (May 14, 1984)
Voulez-Vous (July 2, 1984)
Abba Live (1986)
After these initial releases, the PolyGram and Polar CD catalogues split, leaving each company to release their own versions of Ring Ring, Waterloo and Abba. PolyGram issued Abba on March 23,1987 but didn’t release the two earlier albums on CD until August 20, 1990. Polar released all three albums in Sweden in 1988.