Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (An Abba Sample After Midnight)...
So Madonna had to beg Abba to use Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) as the sample in her new rather fabulously addictive single Hung Up, huh? Well, she's not the first to use an Abba sample in a track. She's the third.
Sure loads of people have covered Abba songs - perhaps most successfully was Erasure with their rather wonderful number one Abbaesque EP. But only three people have actually sampled Abba (that I'm aware of). Those Swedes are notoriously loathe to let people muck about with their songs.
The ones before Madge were none other than the rather marvelous Fugees who used The Name Of the Game in Rumble In The Jungle in 1996.
But the Fugees weren't the first. Oh no. Someone had been there before them. So who were the first people to sample Abba? Which brave pioneers took that first step?
Bill Drummond wasn't a newcomer to the British music scene when he formed KLF. He had been a member of the late-'70s Liverpool band Big In Japan (with later-to-be-frontman for Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Holly Johnson). Neither was Jimmy Cauty who along with June Montana and Killing Joke's bassist Youth was signed to WEA as Brilliant. But between them these two men created one of the greatest music duos to hit the music scene. They survived loads of name-changes (Justified Ancients of Mu Mu , Disco 2000, The Timelords, The KLF, K Foundation and 2K), a handful of number ones, a sampling controversy that led to the withdrawal of their first album, and an unfinished movie project that almost put them in the poorhouse.
Their debut LP, released under the name of The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, was unassumingly dubbed 1987 - WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. Recorded by Drummond and Cauty, under the aliases 'King Boy D' and 'Rockman Rock,' in Cauty's tiny apartment on a hip-hop inspired whim, the album was a complete homebrew in-your-face masterpiece, combining drum machines and loud Scots shouting with sound bites from everyone from The Monkees to Abba.
Unfortunately, Abba bit back. The JAMS, it seems, had lifted virtually every ounce of the Swedish disco band's hit Dancing Queen and dropped it unaltered into a track the JAMS has dubbed The Queen And I (predating the loop-and-sample antics of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice by three or so years). It wasn't so much a cover as it was an unauthorized remix, and the threat of an expensive lawsuit inspired The JAMS to 'Do The Right Thing' - burn all the unsold copies of the album. Shame.