The first of four singles from the band’s third album (inventively titled ABBA), ‘Mamma Mia’ provided the Swedish group with yet another massive chart success – the song spent 10 weeks at number 1 in Australia and managed to knock Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ off the top spot in the UK at the beginning of 1976.
If you’re the sort of person that plays in cover bands that are required (or even choose) to play ABBA songs then chances are that this has appeared on a set list. If it hasn’t then it’s only a matter of time…
The name of the game for the bass part of ‘Mamma Mia’ is momentum. From the very first note, Mike Watson’s bass line drives the song forward – note how his part has a clear rock (at times, almost punk) influence, which differs from other ABBA studio bassist Rutger Gunnarsson’s more soul-tinged playing.
Note the simple use of switching from crotchets to quavers between the introduction and the verse sections to propel the song forward. In the second half of the verse, the driving crotchets are maintained, but Mike uses octaves to maintain the listener’s interest.
In the prechorus, the bass matches the vocal phrasing, adding rhythmic punch before serving up a clever repeated sliding phrase that neatly fills a gap left by the vocals.
The chorus bass part is, well, non-existent. Mike comes storming back in during the tag section of the chorus with a great descending line and swiftly returns to driving quaver lines.