The very first English solo album of Agnetha Fältskog, Wrap Your Arms Around Me, was released 40 years ago on 31st May 1983. A retrospective album review.

It must have been hard for a singer, who has spent many years in an orchestra, to restart her solo career. It can cause plenty of hardships, especially in terms of who to present to the audience again and what musical approach to take. Should she stay within her comfort zone and continue the way she took before? Or should she take a deep breath and start a new direction with a completely renewed look and musical style?

Frida chose the latter path with her album Somethings Going On in 1982, which was a great success all over the world, whereas Agnetha was a different case. Frida was known to be more vibrant and experimental; the blonde singer was more conventional and pop-oriented. Agnetha’s personality was intertwined with sad ballads like The Winner Takes It All, SOS and One of Us, and several up-tempo yet wistful pop songs like Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Kisses of Fire and Lay All Your Love On Me. 

Despite her apparent static nature, the singer has excellent musical qualities; in addition to being the most musically skilled of the Swedish quartet, she is an accomplished pianist[1], songwriter and has also produced Swedish-language solo albums[2]. Together with Frida, she played an important role in shaping and developing the vocal sound of ABBA[3].

Around the time of Frida’s solo success, Agnetha also started to restart her solo career. In the autumn of 1982, she recorded Never Again with Tomas Ledin, and it was a hit in several European countries. Agnetha initially wanted Barry Gibb to produce her first international solo album, but Gibb suggested his crew and Miami as a location, but the singer did not want it and the plans were shelved[4]. However, the final choice fell on Mike Chapman, who had worked as a producer and songwriter with bands and artists such as Smokie, Suzie Quatro and Blondie in the 1970s[5].


Agnetha’s aim with the album was to recreate her with a varied style of songs, yet with a more upbeat tone, that went beyond the more sombre ABBA albums of the last three years, but she did not intend to break away completely from the ABBA’s quality pop[6]. As for her image, a new, sensual Agnetha was presented, who is more confident and stronger than ever and she is not afraid of bigger musical challenges. Mark Chapman was a great partner in her game. In addition to these, the cover photos, which fit the new image, were taken by the legendary Gered Mankowitz, who has worked with big names such as The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush and Elton John.

The songs were chosen jointly by Agnetha, Chapman and Stig Anderson; they were culled from the song catalogues of several record labels. Besides these, many demos were also sent by well-known and lesser-known artists, while others were asked by Agnetha to write for the album. Recording began in January 1983 and for two and a half months, 15 tracks were recorded from a selection of 20, and in the end, 12 songs were finished[7]. The engineer was again Michael B. Tretow, who successfully brought out the high quality of Agnetha’s voice that was typical of ABBA records. In addition to him, some musicians from the ABBA backing band, like Wellander, Rutger Gunnarsson, Per Lindwall and Åke Sundqvist, also played on the album as well as the UK band Smokie who contributed backing vocals on several songs besides three female singers. 


The album, entitled Wrap Your Arms Around Me, was released in Sweden on 31 May by Polar Music and was heralded by a strong media campaign from spring to autumn. Agnetha also produced a TV show on Swedish television around the time of the album’s release. 

It is not surprising that the lead single, The Heat Is On, was a big summer hit in Europe. The song, with its light, cheerful summery tone, was originally recorded by Noosha Fox in 1979, but it was Agnetha who turned it to magical and loved. The track showcased this new, confident Agnetha, who was able to win over audiences with her new style. The album successfully broke the singer out of her role as a dramatic, sad woman and Agnetha found herself alongside some other adult contemporary songstresses, like Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer and Diana Ross. 

Besides The Heat Is On, the bluesy harmonica-driven reggae mood of Take Good Care of Your Children will be a novelty for listeners, and there is the playful Mr Persuasion, which brings back the sound of the female trios of the 1960s.

Among the more rocking, up-tempo songs on the album we can find Can’t Shake Loose and Shame, which suited the singer very well. Can’t Shake Loose was the first single in the USA, where it successfully reached the Top 30[8], while in Europe it was the third single to be released in late summer 1983. The song was written by Russ Ballard who composed I Know There’s Something Going On for Frida.

Yet the focus of the album is on the tender Agnetha, who glows and shines confidently in the title track and wistfully yearns in Stay. The song Wrap Your Arms Around Me evokes the well-orchestrated and sophisticated pop music of the seventies and even enters the more compact, compact soundscape of the new decade with a hint of Diana Ross. As the second single off the album, the track was a big hit all over Europe, especially in the Benelux countries[9].


Mike Chapman was a master of the hummable, broadly popular pop hits that brought him many chart successes in the 1970s. These included the mid-tempo, Las Vegas-tinged I Wish Tonight Could Last Forever, the almost Smokie-esque One Burned, Twice Shy and the San Remo-inspired Stand By My Side. While these are well-arranged pieces, they are among the less exciting, more forgettable moments on the album.

However, those who look for the classic ABBA sound on this album will not be disappointed; the symphonic ballad To Love is a great take on the classic Agnetha sound that fits the mood of My Love, My Life and I’ve Been Waiting for You. Then there’s the singer’s own composition Man, which stands out with its gentleness and pure sound. 

Wrap Your Arms Around Me was not only loved by fans but it was also praised by the critics themselves, who highlighted the musical medium as different from ABBA and the sexier, more sensual incarnation of Agnetha. The album has sold 1.2 million copies worldwide[10], far fewer than any of ABBA’s hit albums, but it is still a remarkable achievement for a singer who just came out with her first solo English-language solo album. 


This album could have been a strong start and a stepping stone to a worldwide career if Agnetha had followed it up with a proper promotion, smart management and conscious image and song choice. However, unfortunately, this would not happen. While the chemistry between the artist, the styles and the audience worked well on this album, this is no longer the case with the other two English-language albums of the decade, where, with a few exceptions, the singer’s persona doesn’t come across.

Wrap Your Arms Around Me is regarded as a nicely crafted album and according to many people, its highest values are the well-arranged songs, the clever variety of styles and the fact that Agnetha’s presence shines through very well on the record. Since its release, the album has been reissued several times, proving the success of the release over the decades.

[1] Palm, Carl Magnus. Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press, 2014, pp. 115.

[2] Fältskog, Agnetha, and Brita Ahman. As I Am – ABBA Before & Beyond, Virgin Publishing, London, 1997, p. 147.

[3] Fältskog, Agnetha, and Brita Ahman. As I Am – ABBA Before & Beyond, Virgin Publishing, London, 1997, p. 133.

[4] Palm, Carl Magnus. Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press, 2014, pp. 468–469.

[5] Palm, Carl Magnus. Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press, 2014, pp. 470.

[6] Palm, Carl Magnus. Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press, 2014, pp. 470.

[7] Schlager, vol. 11–12, no. 69–70, 1983, https://doi.org/10.1553/0x0001e0e7.

[8] Palm, Carl Magnus. Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press, 2014, pp. 469.

[9] https://www.abbacharts.com

[10] Palm, Carl Magnus. Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press, 2014, pp. 470

MAGYARUL ITT:https://www.abbalogia.hu/wrap-your-arms-around-me/