• Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

  • The Real Story of Abba
  • By: Carl Magnus Palm
  • Narrated by: Adrian Mulraney
  • Length: 26 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (113 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An exploration of all aspects of the Abba member’s lives and careers. Amazingly detailed, it examines the group member’s family backgrounds, the pre-Abba days, the legendary 70s, the marriages, the divorces, the business ups and downs, and the post-Abba solo careers.

©2002 Carl Magnus Palm by agreement with Bengt Nordin Agency (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

“How did Abba do it? And why, 20 years after they split, are they still so popular? Palm’s book achieves the difficult feat of capturing the multiple layers of Abba… with a deftness unusual in a rock biography.” ( The Sunday Times, London)
“Another fine addition to the canon of music biographies…. Palm’s biography is extremely thorough and dipped deeply in a pond of melancholy.” ( The Times, London)

What listeners say about Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it...

How refreshing to read a rock/music bio that actually contains very real, detailed and honest info re the band, including their ups and downs along the way-right from the start. All I can say is WOW. I knew they were all talented before I heard this book, but now I see them all as not only 'incredibly' talented, but also with an incredible work ethic. Most 'stars' of the current generation want fame so quickly, and wonder why it never lasts. Abba's talent that has been carved out during their lifetimes, which is why it has shone so strongly. Currently enjoying an ABBA music revival, on my ipod as a result.

5 people found this helpful

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Awesome! -- All the Swedish words pronounced!

I read the physical book 10 years ago, and I still learned a lot from this audiobook. Palm chronicles the lives of the major people involved in ABBA, since most of there were kids. It is an enjoyable story that doesn't hide the truth about many of the situations they've encountered whether good or bad. I will most likely listen to this several times, because the content is so rich. When I originally read the book, there were many Swedish words that I guessed at the pronunciations, making them not so memorable, the audio edition changed that! Also, I was pleasantly surprised that it was updated in 2011.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved It!

I was hesitant prior to purchasing this book.

In 1976 I was a 10 year-old living in Australia in the middle of the Abba hysteria. I can still the remember the seemingly unending weeks when the Countdown #1 spot was occupied by 'Fernando'. The radio was saturated with Abba tunes. I was not a fan. (Although the Norman Gunston spoofs provided some relief!)

But over the years I've come to appreciate how gifted these musicians are. And to hear the story behind the group was fascinating.

This book is very well written and thoroughly researched, the narration is spot-on and easy to listen to over the course 26 hours.

The only change I would like to see would be the inclusion of excerpts of the songs to which the writer refers.

So even if you have only the slightest interest in this book, don't hesitate to download and listen.

2 people found this helpful

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Full of insight

Very professional. No gossip. Would have appreciated more on sessions but that is a former studio engineer's perspective.

1 person found this helpful

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Exhausting but ultimately rewarding account

Would you listen to Bright Lights, Dark Shadows again? Why?

Probably not, as I feel that I know so much about them, I don't want to go through it again.

What did you like best about this story?

The minute details of every aspect of their careers

What does Adrian Mulraney bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great diction - although very painstaking when slowing down to try to pronounce the song titles in Swedish

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Finding out that Agnetha actually had an affair with the man who stalked her! I was horrified and humbled.

Any additional comments?

Did we really need to know everything about the financial side? It could've been shaved down quite considerably to make it less laborious. But I enjoyed hearing how they all separately got started and how they met and evolved.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent Book, Excellent narrator

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes, definitely. it's very detailed and comprehensive and takes you through the journey of the people that made up ABBA. It's incredibly well written and this is one of the best narrators I've ever heard.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Bright Lights, Dark Shadows?

I really enjoyed learning the family backgrounds of each performer and how they all ended up together. Very fascinating.

What about Adrian Mulraney’s performance did you like?

One of the most pleasant voices to listen to ever. This is very important with a book like this because this book is over 26 hours long.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It was fascinating to learn about how the two couples came together and what broke them up.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed this book and I'm going to listen to it again. So thorough, deep and moving.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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In depth look at the band and the individuals

What made the experience of listening to Bright Lights, Dark Shadows the most enjoyable?

The content. Very well researched and the stories of each of the band members made them "real people" to me after decades of being a fan.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Bright Lights, Dark Shadows?

Frieda's story. From before her birth, through growing up and her first marriage, the children. She has an incredible story, and has overcome many hardships.

Which character – as performed by Adrian Mulraney – was your favorite?

There weren't particularly characters portrayed in the book, meaning that he never used different accents or changed his voice when reading quotes. He did a good job of getting around many of the Swedish pronunciations, but had to slow his speech considerably to do so.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I can't think of one in particular. There were many things in the story of ABBA and of the individual members that were memorable, but not moving, per se.

Any additional comments?

If you are or were a fan of ABBA or music of that time, this is a great book for you. Very well researched, interesting from start to finish. It's a long book, but nothing is held back. It's also interesting to learn about how ABBA fits into the history of music (Fan hysteria, video promotion, pop vs. rock genre, other musicians perspectives on the band).

1 person found this helpful

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The most thorough biography ever…

Written about mostly unwilling subjects. A+++

No stone left unturned. A 26 hour audiobook seemed daunting at first. But Carl always kept it interesting.

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ABBA: The Story

This looks like the definitive book on ABBA. The interesting aspect of the book is it seems to be fairly balanced with its critical look at ABBA; not being too hyperbolic about anything. It’s amazing how the four members seems to behave like real people. Treasuring their privacy and family life. Not getting too caught up in the “Rock Star” lifestyle. Shy, contemplative, funny people.

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Thank you for the music

Hearts blending in song, this a story of charm, beauty and sadness, proving that we live beyond our regrets, and that everything you ever did touched someone as they touched you.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-18-20

very interesting story, great detail

a well written book, though it feels clunky and awkwardly phrased in places, which I suspect is a result of the translation from Swedish to English.
Similarly the narration is mostly good, but every time there is a Swedish phrase or name to be said the narrator slows right down and takes a deep breath, which is very noticeable.
However the story is extremely interesting and written with great care and detail.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anthony Stobart
  • 04-13-20

Definitive in terms of info

A superb overview and insight into the best pop band ever. Loads of facts and superb research. It could do with an an additional update as it's now slightly out of date at the end, but a terrific effort.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna Fern
  • 12-17-18

Bit boring

Long And at times boring and hard to follow. Abba are an incredible story but this was a bit long winded!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • tee pee
  • 04-27-16

Well read and absorbing

A well researched biography of the group, my only complaint there was far too much info regarding their business ventures

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Phil Wain
  • 06-27-21

Succinct

Enjoyed mostly but far too much about the financial side and the personal lives were skimmed over with very little details I didn’t know. Announcing of song names etc done in a very irritating way.

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  • NUFC52
  • 10-29-20

Abba - As it was

Like many fans of Abba, the first time I saw them was on the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton and you could tell, they were good and well above the average. Abba really made it big in Germany with plenty of radio time and TV appearances. Listening to Abba when I was serving in the forces in Germany brought a lot of happiness into my life and I am still a massive fan. Many years ago, I bought ‘ Abba - The Complete Recording Sessions ‘ by the same author and it was a truly informative read and I even re-read it quite often. I was very pleased to see that he had taken on this project and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Massive amount of detail which true fans will love. The only thing that would have made it better would have been the inclusion of a PDF file with photos which I am fairly sure would be in the physical copy.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • VPman
  • 07-13-18

Horribly detailed so only for detail buffs.

Way too much detail so it becomes extremely boring to listen to this book. I'm at chapter 18 of 55 and only now reached the selection for 1974 Eurosong contest. The narrator tries to pronounce Swedish titles and names and fails miserably.
For the love of god please release an abridged version.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 03-08-15

If you love their music, you'll love there story..

A very very in depth and engaging account of one of the biggest music phenomenons the world has ever seen. It took a while to get through but gives a very clear picture of the lives and the music and the impact they had on the world.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • dl27
  • 02-05-15

Labour of love

A very indepth account of one of the world's Supergroups. Delving details with a compassionate narrator. A must for anyone interested in the music industry and in particular Abba.