Other Guitars

Only person I ever saw using an Ovation Breadwinner

26

Glen Campbell, whom some credit with bringing Ovation guitars to the fore, on a Breadwinner lookylike. I think it`s actually a Deacon, though.

27

One evening, my friend Neal who owns a vintage guitar business (and a number of you have met at some of the east coast Round Ups), brought out two matching white Breadwinners, for each of us to play during a set at a local jam. I wish I had a picture of that. I recall they played really well.

28

Glen Campbell, whom some credit with bringing Ovation guitars to the fore, on a Breadwinner lookylike. I think it`s actually a Deacon, though.

– Kevin Frye

Deacon for certain. The fret markers and bound fretboard are unique.

29

I can vouch for the build quality and playability of the Ovation line of solid body guitars in the late 70's/early 80's having sold them new at a local dealer I worked for. The were a little "hi-fi" sounding compared to the usual Fender/Gibson fare we had in stock. The body shape of the Breadwinner just didn't catch on. The trend at the time was to yank brand new pickups out of freshly purchased guitars and replace them with DiMarzio or Mighty Mite pickups. Brass nuts, bridges and assorted brass hardware usually completed the transformation. The Ovation pickups and hardware were unique to Ovation and didn't fit the prevailing mind-set of swapping out as advertised in all the guitar rags. I could be wrong but I don't remember any company offering retro-fit stuff for the line.

30

Shive, I merely wanted to say that it is nice to see you posting on the GDP. I have heard such great things about you from Tim and Sammy and I hope that someday our paths will cross so that I can play some music with you.

31

Robert Smith of The Cure played a Breadwinner. Mr. Smith also played a number of Ovation acoustics.

As for ABBA:

ABBA were absolutely brilliant. They crafted pop songs I'd say better than anybody else in history -- including Sirs McCartney and Lennon.

Pop music always seems to be a pejorative term. Not for me. Pop music is an art form equal to symphonies. When done right it takes one's breath away. Just listen to '60s Motown tunes for many examples. And ABBA tunes, too.

32

They crafted pop songs I'd say better than anybody else in history -- including Sirs McCartney and Lennon.

I love that you love ABBA (in the unmentionable guilty pleasure domain I love Yes), and I concur that a good pop song is a fine thing, equal to any other fine thing.

But ABBA wrote better songs than Lennon-McCartney?

Everyone, of course, is entitled to an opinion. I guess that is one.

33

I didn't really pay much attention to ABBA....could you elaborate...

Ric12String >>And, then there was the infamous part of Agnetha's presentation that had most young guys watching carefully.

34

But ABBA wrote better songs than Lennon-McCartney?

More than one of their songs was certainly up there. Perhaps not "Money, Money, Money", but some of their ballads were at least as good as anyone else's, and I'd put 'em up against Dylan for the storytelling they could do when the mood struck...

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

I remember long ago another starry night like this.

In the firelight, Fernando, you were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar.

I could hear the distant drums, and sound of bugle calls were coming from afar.

Those words place you in the scene, set the mood, and leave you with a feeling that those were better times, despite the distant battle.

There was something in the air the night that one was written.

35

Father MacKenzie,
wiping the dirt from his hands
as he walks from the grave.
No one was saved.

BAM. That's gettin' it done.

36

I dunno about better than Lennon and McCartney but I do think abba wrote exquisitely crafted and beautifully produced songs. I think their lyrics are better than they needed to be by a wide margin, the melodies are inventive, the singing was spot on and the rhythm section stacks up against anyone. I don’t love their music, in the end, but I do appreciate them and enjoy them from time to time.

37

I dunno about better than Lennon and McCartney but I do think abba wrote exquisitely crafted and beautifully produced songs. I think their lyrics are better than they needed to be by a wide margin, the melodies are inventive, the singing was spot on and the rhythm section stacks up against anyone. I don’t love their music, in the end, but I do appreciate them and enjoy them from time to time.

– Baxter

What he said!

38

Better than Sirs McCartney and Lennon? OK, perhaps I can pull that back and say equal to Lennon and McCartney.

When ABBA were inducted into the ROCK AND ROLL Hall of Fame, I listened to their acceptance speech and got it. It all made sense to me. Benny was the speaker and I saw that he was no different than any other kid living through the '50s. A Swede, yet no different than any kid in Charleston, Tennessee. He would sit on his bed, ear next to a static-filled radio trying to hear American r'n'b and rock and roll songs. And he'd buy Elvis records and listen to the B-sides...like every kid did back then...and those tunes made him what he became musically. Does "Fernando" sound like "Jailhouse Rock"? No. But does it do what "Jailhouse Rock" does? Yes. It touches us, moves us in our own personal way and it does that at 45 rpms in about three minutes time -- that's great pop music.

Paul and John? Uncanny ability to craft perfect pop songs. Can't we say the same of Benny and Bjorn? Those two knew instinctively how to write a bridge that led us to a spectacular chorus. They knew when to throw in a rock guitar in the midst of a piano based song. They knew how to make vocals sound like angels. Benny and Bjorn better than Paul and John? That really comes down to personal preference. But we all can agree that they were equal in the ability to write and construct absolutely perfect pop songs. And they did it at 45 rpms in under three minutes. Perfect pop.

39

I'll accept that analysis, so far as it defines the essence and accomplishment of something intended purely as a "pop" song.

But I note that the Beatles went beyond and transcended pop, in ways both instinctive and intentional. While they were often chasing yet another pop triumph, I think they were often going their own (often new) directions simply for their own sake, out of curiosity. In so doing, they created a body of work for which recognition continues to grow for its seemingly universal qualities. If anything, it's more highly regarded today than in 1969. It's become something like canon. The magic and the accomplishment are not only in the music, but in the meaning - in the resonance of the lyrics, the way in which they're vocalized and expressed, the placement of subtle musical cues to support them.

I don't know the nooks and crannies of ABBA's work as I know the Beatles, but it strikes me that (based on what I've heard), it's more of a piece, and more of its time, with less evolution and development over the arc of the band's career. They perfected a particular instance of perfect pop-craft for their time, and mined that vein - rather than changing the idiom as the Beatles did.

There was also enormous range in the texture and affect of Beatles songs - different surfaces, moods, tempos, colors. Everything I hear from ABBA is similarly glossy, slick, and layered. There doesn't seem to be as much range.

And it's perhaps inevitable that, writing in a language other than their own (as successfully as they did it), and with social and cultural referents different from the British-American domain, they're unlikely to craft English lyrics as apt, as affective, as direct to the English-speaker's heart and brain as Lennon/McCartney.

(Bearing in mind that the British and American societies in which L-M and their American listeners grew up could hardly have been more different, other than that shared language and culture. Part of the Beatles' power for us was the way they transmuted the American culture they idolized - and another part was how true they remained to British traditions. The greater part was their sheer power to synthesize all of it with their own unique contribution into something new - and yet somehow familiar.)

And I could surely have a generational bias, having grown up with the Beatles. I'm just not sure an "objective" appraisal of the two bands (if such a thing were possible) - taking into account their music, their impact, their influence, the sheer quality of their work - would put ABBA and the Beatles on anything like the same level. Both at times assayed pure pop gold, there's no doubt - and the Beatles' ability to turn anything into pop (with George Martin's help) was part of their accomplishment. But I think the Beatles' accomplishment went beyond that.

And 216 songs, hardly a clunker in the bunch. How deep is ABBA's discography? (I'm not being argumentative, I don't know. I'm just trying to fairly evaluate the claim...)

40

Forgot about Robert Smith playing one! I haven’t watched the live video of him in siouxie and the banshees for years. Thanks for the reminder!

41

Proteus, no disrespect meant here, but the first thing that comes to my mind upon reading your post is, "So what?"

So what that ABBA did not have "meaning"? So what that ABBA did not transcend the idiom? So what that ABBA's lyrics do not resonate?So what that ABBA lacked evolution and development over the arc of their career?

You are belittling ABBA for not doing things that they never set out to do!

ABBA wanted to write pop songs that we would like and buy. That's what they wanted to do and that's what they did. They did not want to write an opera, write country western songs, write political screeds, experiment with foreign instrumentation, create concept albums, write nine minute songs... They are what they set out to be -- a pop band. You can not denigrate them for not doing things they never intended to do.

And as for lack of range...you are mistaken. Yes, gloss and polish were their tricks of the trade. But were they supposed to plug in an Epiphone direct to the recording board and get a super-saturated distortion to intro a raw political rocker called "Revolution"? That wasn't their game. Their range comes from, what I would say, is the fact that their singles really did not sound alike at all. They never did repeat their hits. Hell, The Beatles did that (is there really a difference between "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You"?), but ABBA hits...Benny and Bjorn clearly never wanted to repeat themselves. Just think of the songs you know. "Waterloo," "Mama Mia," "Fernando," "Dancing Queen," "Does Your Mother Know"...quite different in their style. All pop, but disco, rock, folk... And their album tracks were just as varied in styles.

Full disclosure: I had an older cousin who worked for Atlantic Records. She would send us every record ABBA released. (Posters, too. You know what it was like to be a little kid and have a full length poster of Agnetha hanging in your room?) I became quite familiar with and fond of ABBA music. (And Agnetha.)

42

I didn't really pay much attention to ABBA....could you elaborate...

Ric12String >>And, then there was the infamous part of Agnetha's presentation that had most young guys watching carefully.

– Toddfan

Head on over to YouTube. There are lots of videos there which will explain things nicely to you.

43

I never had a Beatles poster. I did have Beatle bubblegum cards. Different decades, different teenagers, different bands with, as you say, wholly variant goals. The Beatles hit me when I was adolescent and an early teenager. Apparently ABBA hit you at a similar time in your life. Those generational conditions have everything to do with what music imprints on us as "best" or "most authentic" - and the imprint lasts for life.

While "Revolution" isn't one of my favorite Beatle songs (either for songcraft or guitar tone), it's a bit disingenuous to characterize it as a "raw political rocker," as John's ambivalence as to whether he was to be counted "in" or "out" of violent revolution gave the song dimension and resonance as a bit of public soul-searching in a troubled era. From your treatment of the song, I assume you consider that sort of political awareness and personal journalling a lesser thing than jewelling up some popcraft. I guess I don't.

(I'll let "foreign instrumentation" as an insult pass, since drums seem to originate in Africa, the guitar in its current 6-string form in Spain, its electrification and the electric bass from America, the piano-forte from the continent, and ABBA's ubiquitous synths from the US and UK. And...there's a whole orchestra full of instruments in play much of the time as well - in the work of both bands. I assume the Beatles' risible offense was to have used sitars and tablas...which aren't all that foreign to Britain, what with the colonial relationship and all. G Martin didn't even have to leave London to find some "foreign" pickers to support George's exotic interest.)

Part of my so-what point (with which you agree) is that ABBA did NOT do things they never set out to do. The Beatles, contrariwise, did set out to be a successful pop band (after they had their wild rock & roll days). They did that, created the very mold for what that meant, and got tired of it. Then, probably as surprising to them as anyone else, they went beyond that - while retaining a pop sensibility. Clearly that arc of development makes them an entirely different kettle of fish than ABBA.

And I don't dislike ABBA. I'm not denigrating them or the taste of anyone who plain ol' LOVES the band. (And probably part of my disinterest had to do with the relative lack of guitar in the arrangements. For decades, I didn't like bands with horns. Bands were about guitars.)

But the statement that ABBA wrote better pop songs than Lennon & McCartney strikes me as a statement intended to shock (or at least stimulate some point-counterpoint). You can just see it as a click-bait headline: "ABBA Better Than Beatles!"

I mean, in the domain of chart-topping hits (of any era) which sold sufficient units to have cultural impact, the notion of "better" is probably fairly meaningless. Each era gets very different pop songs (someone 30 years from now will be arguing that Britney was better than ABBA), which aren't really comparable across decades - and they're always judged through our personal lenses, making the comparative or superlative cases matters of taste.

If the Beatles and ABBA were represented in a Venn diagram, the area of intersection would include ABBA's hits and the most confectionary of the Beatles' hits. Comparing the "quality" of the songs in that overlapping area is subject to all the limitations ad nauseated in my previous paragraph. And otherwise, the two bands - as you suggest - don't overlap much at all.

But there actually might be a way to evaluate the pure quality of the songcraft. The old saw that is if you want to know what a song really has going for it, sing it with a single unadorned acoustic guitar as accompaniment. If you still have a song, it's a good one.

But I acknowledge that doesn't test for popcraft - which is also a matter of performance, presentation, and production.


At the end of the day, if you don't mind, I'll prefer the Beatles. I never had a fantasy relationship with Agnetha (I don't even know which one she is).

But I know that when I lay me down to die, there are no more humane and comforting voices I'd rather hear than Lennon's and McCartney's - and no songs that more fully inhabit my soul. For all the pomp, melodic grandeur, and soaring energy of ABBA's best, I'm afraid they would hasten my departure.


But there's nothing here to argue about. I'm just making words as a diversion, because someone said something interesting. Thanks for saying it!

44

You are reading too much into Beatles vs. ABBA.

Beatles are the standard bearer of modern pop music. The members of ABBA would agree with that. All I said (and I adjusted my words) was that Benny and Bjorn's talents as pop songwriters were equal to those of John and Paul. The four of them could take musical instruments, some vocals and concoct songs that were astonishing. Works of pop magnificence.

(As for foreign instruments...huh? Foreign can also mean foreign to pop music. The sequencer was invented in America, but when American Donna Summer used one in her disco masterpiece "I Feel Love" it was an instrument foreign to disco music. The sitar was foreign to rock music. You want to look at it as being from a foreign country, you may. I say it is foreign to the realm of rock and roll.)

45

Ah. Foreignness clarified. Apologies for misunderstanding your use. Sitar was foreign to rock before "Norwegian Wood." But not after. Thus the genre grows and morphs.

But really, did ABBA never use an instrument in one of their songs that had never been used on a pop record? I bet they probably did. You could say that if they programmed a unique synth patch, that sound was new and previously "foreign."

And it's all fine with me.

46

Mr. Proteus, I'd rather not delve into the intricacies of ABBA music. I know all their songs (not just the hit singles) because my sister would play their albums straight through continuously. But it's been years, decades since I've heard their deep album tracks. Can I recall any instrumentation foreign to Top 40 pop music? I suppose I could, but that's really getting into the minutiae of their music. Let's leave it at ABBA were masters of the three minute pop song.

A far better discussion would be why is the construction of the three minute pop song rarely seen as artistry? Why is The Who's rock opera "Tommy" considered art, but ABBA's "Knowing Me Knowing You" is dismissed as a catchy pop song? I grew up on AM Top 40 radio. To me The Sweet's "and the man in the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz," or Michael Murphy's "she ran calling Wildfire" or The Jackson 5's "Isaac said he kissed you beneath the apple tree, when Benji held your hand he felt electricity" were just as captivating and perfect as Dylan's "you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

I never understand why most hard core musicians seem to always dismiss pop music. From ABBA to Katy Perry...pop is never considered an art form. (The Beatles pop music is only taken seriously because of the other things they accomplished. Had The Beatles never done a "Sgt. Pepper's," I assure you they would just be viewed as The Dave Clark Five or The Four Seasons.)

ABBA's Benny and Bjorn were just about the best there ever was when it comes to pop music. And, yes, I'll say it again...artists on par with (better than?) Sirs McCartney and Lennon.

47

Did you know that if you play an ABBA record backwards, it still sounds like ABBA?

48

Pop is NOT a "lower" art form than others. I don't hold that prejudice. I don't know who denies the artistry of a 3-minute composition of exquisite perfection. You're tarring me there with a brush of your own devise. I'll go to the mat defending the consummate artistry of the Hollies, Donovan's best, Duane Eddy, the Everlies, most Beach Boys hits, early Simon & Garfunkel, Tommy Roe, The Four Seasons and a raft of other great music through the 50s, 60s, 70s, into the 80s and 90s (when I stopped paying attention). Great pop comes from all those decades.

I don't say it's "inferior" to Tommy or the extended suites of the prog-rockers, or the intricate improvs of the Grateful Dead and some of the fusion guys. That's not my argument. All hail the fabulous pop song. It's a noble pursuit.

I just get more personal satisfaction from the other forms - while acknowledging and admiring consummate pop-craft. Where would we put XTC? It satisfies on all counts.


At this state in my listening (and remembering) life, I don't put any form of music on a pedestal as superior to others. The fact that I prefer not to listen to most pop (from any decade past my most formative years of 1962-1976 or so) doesn't mean I scoff at or mock it. The textures, the surface, the insistent propulsive (and, I think, synthetic) energy of much of it just doesn't please my taste. For me, there's almost too much strength, nobility, and spectacle in ABBA's music for the themes it presents. They're soaring Beethoven-esque synthetic symphonies ... about young dancers and relationships. I'd like it better as instrumentals.

I ALSO grew up on Top 40 radio. It's all there WAS (other than "religious" or easy listening or hard-core country). Not until 1972 did the "new rock" that had been emerging since the late 60s, straining at the limits of pop, get a full-time FM station in my area of Ohio. The "pop" radio of that era had a different character, not at all homogenous. It's where the best of every genre ended up in a glorious mix - Great American Songbook, garage rock, psychedelic, soul, motown, Brit invasion moptoppop, blues, whatever music was being made - it was all there together on the pop charts in the mid-60s. "Harper Valley PTA" and "Ballad of Billy Joe" crossed over to the mainstream charts. I liked that. Our musical tastes were more universal.

As a fairly random example, here's a Top 40 chart from June 1966 (which happens to be British:

1 Frank Sinatra: Strangers In The Night
2 Beatles: Paperback Writer
3 Mamas & The Papas: Monday Monday
4 Percy Sledge: When A Man Loves A Woman
5 Rolling Stones: Paint It, Black
6 Merseys: Sorrow
7 Animals: Don't Bring Me Down
8 Kinks: Sunny Afternoon
9 Troggs: Wild Thing
10 Ken Dodd: Promises
11 Ike & Tina Turner: River Deep, Mountain High
12 Cilla Black: Don't Answer Me
13 Yardbirds: Over Under Sideays Down
14 Gene Pitney: Nobody Needs Your Love
15 Beach Boys: Sloop John B
16 Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich: Hideaway
17 Sandie Shaw: Nothing Comes Easy
18 Small Faces: Hey Girl
19 Bob Dylan: Rainy Day Women Nos 12 And 35
20 Tom Jones: Once There Was A Time / Not Responsible
21 Wayne Fontana: Come On Home
22 Manfred Mann: Pretty Flamingo
23 Roy C: Shotgun Wedding
24 Hollies: Bus Stop
25 Four Seasons: Opus 17
26 Simon & Garfunkel: I Am A Rock
27 Lovin' Spoonful: Daydream
28 Paul & Barry Ryan: I Love Her
29 Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames: Get Away
30 James Brown: It's A Man's Man's Man's World
31 Roy Orbison: Lana
32 Gary Walker: Twinkle Lee
33 Dusty Springfield: You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
34 Chiffons: Sweet Talkin' Guy
35 David Garrick: Lady Jane
36 Byrds: Eight Miles High
37 Twice As Much: Sittin' On A Fence
38 Crispian St Peters: Pied Piper
39 Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich: Hold Tight
40 Herman's Hermits: This Door Swings Both Ways

This melting-pot eclecticism lasted pretty much through the 70s, and seemed to fade with the rise of Diva pop in the 80s, with the balkanization of hard/classic rock onto its own stations, and some whole forms of music simply falling through the cracks and out of convenient public consciousness.

Over time - accelerating in the 80s and in the 90s - pop became instead a separate genre, with its own conventions of gloss and presentation, and no longer the best-of-everything I grew up with.

That's another conversation, but it makes the pop of today a less diverse and more regimented thing than once it was - to the impoverishment of all of us, I think.


The Beatles pop music is only taken seriously because of the other things they accomplished. Had The Beatles never done a "Sgt. Pepper's," I assure you they would just be viewed as The Dave Clark Five or The Four Seasons.

I find that a specious (and intentionally reductive) statement. For one thing, their output - and the consistency of that output - had already surpassed that of the DC5 (who I quite like), and covered more stylistic ground than either of those examples. Without the late era material, they wouldn't quite be the cultural juggernaut they now are, but I think they would still be THE signature band of the 60s. But you're quite right that their growth outside of pop puts them in a different class altogether.

I never understand why most hard core musicians seem to always dismiss pop music. From ABBA to Katy Perry...pop is never considered an art form.

Who says that? As far as this conversation goes, that appears a straw man you set up to knock down. You may have had experience with people who poo-poo pop - but I don't think you've seen that here in this forum. Never is a huge word, and almost never true. I got no problem with pop.

And, significantly for me - growing up when I did, listening to the music I did - pop was not only all there was (until the late 60s), but it's the context out of which all that other music evolved. Rock operas, symphonies, long form jams, psychedelia, "acid rock," blues-rock, metal, prog - all were innovated by guys who'd started out in the pop domain; as these inventions diverged more from the 3-minute pop paradigm, they became separate genres with their own conventions, cliches, and expectations. Those genres in turn fed back into pure pop - but they also left pop free to become a genre unto ITself, rather than the showcase for music with a wide variety of cultural antecedents.

ABBA fits somewhere along that continuum of development. Great pop music. (From a decade when I wasn't listening much to pop music, preferring at the time both the offshoot tributaries and the pre-rock roots it had all come from.)

Your bristling defense of pop suggests you consider it a higher form than anything else. If so, so be it. But that's of course a prejudice of taste, and not an objective artistic judgment.

I'll say it again...artists on par with (better than?) Sirs McCartney and Lennon.

OK. So you have.

50
Proteus: "I don't put any form of music on a pedestal as superior to others."

Ah, but you did in a previous post.

When speaking of Beatles music vs. ABBA music you stated:

  1. "[Beatles] accomplishments are not only in the music, but in the meaning - in the resonance of the lyrics"

  2. "[ABBA music] it's more of a piece, and more of its time, with less evolution and development over the arc of the band's career."

  3. "enormous range in the texture and affect of Beatles songs"

There is clearly a pecking order for you when it comes to musical styles. Beatles' approach to music is worthy of the pedestal. ABBA? Maybe the musty paving stones to that pedestal?


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