The 1987 Polydor version of Abba was released throughout Europe except Sweden where Polar decided to press up its own copies of the first three Abba albums in 1988.
As there was no intention of exporting these pressings elsewhere, both Ring Ring and Waterloo were released with their original Swedish tracklistings intact – the only time to date these configurations have appeared on CD.
Each release’s booklet used modified versions of the original Swedish LP packaging – blanking out all references to LP sides – but otherwise retaining the original layouts.
Waterloo (1988): Booklet back cover showing crude blanking out
In the case of Ring Ring, this meant that neither the packaging nor the CD contained any reference to Abba – the only time that the album has been issued on CD without being retrospectively credited to the group in some form.
These three releases can easily be identified as all feature a 1988 copyright date on their back covers.
The CDs themselves appear to have been pressed in Sweden without PolyGram’s input and their faces feature darker blue text than previous West German releases.
Waterloo (1988): Note the darker text on these Swedish issues
Original pressings featured Polar CD catalogue numbers based on the original LPs but, after PolyGram’s takeover of the company in 1989, later copies featured PolyGram catalogue numbers instead. This has no impact on their value.
The back cover of the first Polar CD edition of Ring Ring: later post-PolyGram takeover versions featured a barcode and altered catalogue numbers
In any case, all three releases are relatively rare today because PolyGram decided to release its own inferior version throughout the rest of Europe in 1990. It appears, however, that the three Swedish versions weren’t deleted and remained available (with new catalogue numbers) until the late 1990s.
They are worth a maximum of €30 each outside Sweden with Abba being particularly hard to come by. All three sound superior to their PolyGram equivalents.
Thanks to Ian Cole
First issued: 1988. Reissue: PolyGram Swedish Polars. Deleted: 1989 [reissues: 1997]