UK version of the gatefold sleeve LP “Greatest Hits” hand signed on the front cover in black ink by Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
Greatest Hits was rush-released in Scandinavia in November 1975 to counter expected import sales of similar collections released by licencees in Europe, such as French Disques Vogue’s ABBA’s Greatest Hits and West German Polydor’s The Best Of ABBA. The album was the best selling album of 1976 in the UK, the second best selling album of the 1970s in the UK, and is the second-best selling album in the UK for ABBA, staying in the charts for 130 weeks.
The album was certified Platinum in the US. Its compilation successor was Greatest Hits Vol. 2, released in 1979, and this album was later referred to as “Greatest Hits Volume 1”. The tracks, taken from ABBA’s first three studio albums, had all but one been single sides somewhere in the world. Despite the title of the compilation, only half of the tracks had actually charted as hit singles in major territories. One track, “Dance (While The Music Still Goes On),” was never released as a single and thus was never certified a hit in any territory or country. “Waterloo,” “SOS,” “Mamma Mia” and, later, “Fernando” were Top 10 hits in the UK and several other countries, though only the first of these was a Top 10 hit in the US.
Other arguable hits in multiple territories included “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” (a Top 10 hit in several countries, a number one in Australia, and a Top 20 hit in the US, though barely cracking the Top 40 in the UK), “Honey Honey” (a Top 20 hit in several countries and a Top 30 hit in the US), “Hasta Mañana” (a Top 10 hit in South Africa and New Zealand and a Top 20 hit in Australia), and “So Long” (a Top 20 hit in Germany and a Top 10 hit in Sweden). Ironically, in Australia, where several of the tracks had reached Number One, the release of Greatest Hits was beaten to the market by the local compilation The Best Of ABBA, precluding a release there for years. Nevertheless, the official greatest hits package was an enormous success. Even Rolling Stone, often one of ABBA’s harshest critics in the US, declared in the years shortly after its release, “Anyone who could listen to this record five times and not wind up humming half the songs is an android.”
There are two versions of the sleeve, both versions of the sleeve featured a gatefold design. The bizarre cover painting on the original Swedish release was made by artist Hans Arnold. It was originally awarded as a prize from a magazine where ABBA were voted Artists Of The Year. The group liked it so much that they used it for the gatefold sleeve of the album. This original artwork was not used in all countries. A completely different design was used in the UK, North America and some other territories, featuring the group sitting in a park on a chilly autumn day. Benny and Frida are kissing, while Björn reads a technical paper and Agnetha looks rather forlorn straight into the camera. That image was printed on the inside of the gatefold on those versions featuring the Arnold painting as front cover.