Assuming that one is either the biggest '70s nostalgia buff in the world, or the most hardcore ABBA fan there is, this slipcased 27-CD set is for you -- all of the group's official singles, complete with re-creations of their picture sleeves, two songs per disc. It's not the most efficient use of the CD format or the easiest way to listen to the group's AM radio history as it manifested itself around the world, but as an added lure, each song has been remixed in 24-bit digital sound from the original multi-tracks, thus giving the set an added sonic luster. The remixes are, indeed, fascinating from a technical standpoint as well as very pleasing to the ear, offering a rich, spacious sound. The volume is boosted modestly, but the real difference in these remixes lies in the breadth of sound, rather than its power. In a sense, the mixes have been reshaped to modern sound systems' needs and capabilities. The earliest songs simply sound very good, but by the group's first major Swedish hit, the remixes start to sound extraordinary, as the quartet begins flexing its vocal muscles, pumping up the guitars and the timbre of the voices. The remixes clarify a lot of musical material that was only suggested subliminally on the original vinyl without compromising the integrity of the original hits' respective sounds. The result on the later singles is that they a transformed into a series of miniature Euro-pop/dance "symphonies," in which the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. The packaging is surprisingly compact and efficient for a 27-disc set, but only a hardcore fan is going to cherish all of the picture-sleeve reproductions; most of the images from the middle and later years show the quartet in different nondescript poses facing the camera, where the early sleeves are fascinating as a cultural document. But a lot of the music is beautifully crafted, and about as crisp as it will ever sound. (European import) ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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