Mike Chapman's production of ABBA's Agnetha Faltskog gave birth to the Top 30 hit "Can't Shake Loose," which charted in the autumn of 1983. Though it's a good song, it is not as memorable as Phil Collins' production of ABBA cohort Frida, whose "I Know There's Something Going On" went Top 15 eight months earlier. That Russ Ballard composed both hits for both exiled ABBA woman is worth noting. Truly the gals couldn't "shake loose" or supersede the fame they found in ABBA, and that's a pity as the music here, from the innovative first track, "The Heat Is On" (not the Glenn Frey tune from two years later), to "Shame," is all radio friendly and so much more refined than a lot of the dreck the major labels were issuing at the time. If anything the album covers as much stylistically as it can within the format that this singer was identified with. "Stay" would be perfect for Celine Dion as would "To Love" on side two, and that both Agnetha and Frida didn't become as well-known individually as Laura Branigan or even Debbie Gibson says something about the unkindness of the music industry. "Once Burned, Twice Shy" is grown-up girl group, taking a theme Ian Hunter worked and creating an irresistible mini-pop masterpiece. This album is not only fun, it has much depth. "Mr. Persuasion" is a throwback to Lesley Gore/Patty Duke/Shelley Fabares days. Tiffany eat your heart out. The title track, "Wrap Your Arms Around Me," is some strange mixture of 1973's "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra morphing into 1978's "Love Is in the Air" by John Paul Young. The second Russ Ballard contribution, "I Wish Tonight Would Last for Ever," on the other hand, is a nice about-face, like much of this record, shifting tempos and ideas, a departure from the formula of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's hit machine that was ABBA. Chapman's production work is appropriate and solid, the album feeling much like a similar Polygram release from around this time, Robin Gibb's How Old Are You? -- another member of a hugely successful group stepping out of the safety zone to create a dance-pop album of substance. At 46 and a half minutes, Wrap Your Arms Around Me is a healthy serving of charming melodies, Agnetha even penning a decent song she calls "Man." "Stand by My Side" concludes the disc in ABBA fashion, the only tune emulating the band she came from. That composition, like this album, is a real gem. ~ Joe Viglione, Rovi

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