'...And you'd better not fight... For the sherrif will arrest you and he'll take you down and before you understand, you are prison bound...' - Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in Medly: Pick a bale of cotton / On Top of Old Smokey / Midnight Special -
We bid adieu to the b-side to Summer Night City as the first track to leave the rate that wasn't recorded during the sessions for the first three albums. Originally recorded in 1975 for the German charity album Stars Im Zeichen Eines Guten Sterns, it was re-released as the b-side to the aforementioned single in 1978.
They recorded three American traditionals, namely the much criticized Pick a Bale of Cotton, the lonesome love song On Top of Old Smokey and the country blues prison song Midnight Special. It's kind of an anomaly in their discography as it's the only song not to be written by Benny and Björn.
This is definitely an interesting song. Pick a Bale of Cotton is definitely my favourite, because of the arrangement and the vocal arrangements, On Top of Old Smokey is my least favourite part as it kinda takes away the ambiance created by the other two songs and holy fuck, the girls let rip during Midnight Special as the pace picks up, but never slacks and instead keeps progressing. I remember being quite surprised when I first heard it as it didn't sound like anything ABBA would ever record, yet still sounds unique.
Some of you thought it was a bit strange too. Hudweiser was pleasantly surprised, thinking it's an "Oddity to be sure, but a super fun one at that. I always picture them in a cosy Swedish tavern singing this around the piano like some episode of Fame.". I'm with ya, sis. TrueBeliever found him going a bit kooky after listening to it and found it a "Strange little medley. Now I can’t get Ike & Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” (which reminds me of “Pick a Bale of Cotton”) and “On Top of Spaghetti” out of my head. Going a little loco after this mindfuck.". Nutbush and Cotton? Sis... Mina is with you though, posting this:
Then we have SecretsOfFatima, who thinks it's "Bizarre, yet surprisingly not the worst thing in their discography.".
Having said that, we have a couple of zero givers again. We have a silent idratherjack (I see you), Filippa who rebukes it, admitting "I really don’t like to vote for this, this is not ABBA" (sis, giving it a zero because of that isn't really fair too?) and CasperFan, who bluntly asks "Just why?". It's fun! You should try it.
A good medley will always have people favouritizing certain parts, while despising others.
Some of you only really liked the uptempo parts. tylerc904 says he loves "the first and third parts of this medley, but cannot hear the middle part without thinking of that dumbass meatball kid spoof.". You listened to the one posted above again, did you? kalonite absolute loved the third part, screaming "Midnight Special is GREAT. I'd prefer a cover of just that to be honest.".
Of course, this rate isn't without its contrarians.
Here we have them in the form of Sprockrooster and One Stop Candy Shop who respectively admit "Loving their rendition from On Top of Old Smokey the most." and "Out of the 3 parts, I only like On Top Of Old Smokey.". I mean, is anyone genuinely surprised here?
Weslicious is kinda indifferent to it, shrugging "I mean, I'll never playlist it, but if I heard it some other way I wouldn't skip it.", but P'nutbutter actually applauds them for trying something different, saying "For a set of covers I like what they attempted with this.".
Mikey1701 doesn't like it at all and suspects "@bichard likes this, which tells me all I need to know.", but is quickly proven wrong as the good sis haself is quite critical towards it, stating "A shit song (sorry Frida) bookended by two quite entertaining ones. Still, very b-side material. Oh, and Midnight Special sounds like the theme tune to the Poddington Peas.". Judge for yourselves, girls.
WhatKindOfKylie? isn't here for it either, finding it "A bit random, and to be honest, just not my cup of tea. Enough said." and is joined by constantino, who says "Hmm I love a good medley but I’m not really on-board for this. It’s fun albeit completely unessential.". You've definitely got a point here.
Who makes a very valid point too and quite frankly hits the nail on the head is chris 4862, stating it's a "Controversial bop!". Bop away, girl.