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My, my, how could I resist you?

ABBA: The Book * Jean-Marie Potiez * Aurum Press

The difference between being an obsessive than and a genuine authority is having a publisher. For Jean-Marie Potiez, a Paris-based music journalist, his legitimizing factor for years of pop devotion is ABBA: The Book. Originally published in hardcover in 2000 and now available in an updated paperback edition from Aurum Press, it's an extremely detailed ode to the Swedish super troupers who, despite their penchant for Lycra, have sold more records than any band but the Beatles.

A self-described ABBA expert, Potiez spent five years researching and writing this history of the group that famously asked "Does Your Mother Know?" From each member's birth through the group's disbandment in 1983 to a "Where Are They Now?" chapter, Potiez has done his homework.

Rabid ABBA lovers can gorge on the minutiae he's uncovered, like tour schedules and press clips. ABBA: The Book is so punctilious that one half-expects to find an entry reading, "14 September: Benny thumbed through Ikea catalog today. Ordered hassock." But in 264 pages the author never really does get to the bottom of why we gay folks flat-out adore this thoroughly kitschy band.

Still, the average dancing queen will be more than tickled by the over 250 photos Potiez has collected. These include a vintage ad for ABBA dress-up dolls; a 1975 shot of Frida that's so hot, a critic once wrote, "It would make the Leaning Tower of Pisa stand at attention"; and the shirtless, soft-focus shot used on the cover of the book. Was ABBA ever a hand we wanted to see topless? I'm not sure.

But I do know this: When The New York Times reported that Agnetha Faltskog was set to release her first album in 17 years, it ran a two-inch item in the arts section. If Potiez had had his way, the story would have run on page 1 with the headline "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"

After reading ABBA: The Book, you'll be inclined to share his enthusiasm.

DeCaro is the host of The Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius/OutQ radio.
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Title Annotation:ABBA: The Book
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 25, 2004
Words:346
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