One night in Bangkok

Chess is a musical from 1984, the fruit of a cooperation between musical lyricist Tim Rice and the two male members of ABBA Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. Tim Rice was already known to the public for Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar. Björn and Benny… ah well.

Tim Rice wrote parts of the story already in the early seventies. It was a retelling of the Cold War machinations around the chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972. Since his usual partner in musical Andrew Lloyd Webber was not available (he was doing Cats) Tim, had to turn to someone else. He chose the two Swedes.

The result was a strange amalgam of very different styles. There is rap, electronic and orchestral music combined. Abba’s music was good for theatre, Tim later wrote. To speed up the production on London’s West End, he created the recording before anything was put on stage.

One night in Bangkok is a song showing the two chess master’s thinking about Bangkok. One of them is positive, one is negative. The song was banned in Thailand in 1985 for its trash talk about its capital. By that time the song was already a world wide hit.

This twelve inch version makes the song even better, I think. to be honest, I know the song best this way. I would have to listen to the streamed version I link here, but my guess is it would sound totally different to me.

Murray Head is the singer and actor of the piece. He is also the older brother of Anthony Head, who later starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Nice for me.

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