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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Abba - 1981 The Visitors
Abba - 1981 The Visitors

ALBUM: The Visitors
LABEL: Polar
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1992, Polydor, 422 800 011-2


LINEUP: Benny Andersson - vocals, backing vocals, synthesizer, keyboards, drum machine * Agnetha Faltskog - vocals, backing vocals * Anni-Frid Lyngstad - vocals, backing vocals * Bjorn Ulaeus - vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, guitar, mandolin

Additional Musicians: Ola Brunkert, Per Lindvall - drums * Rutger Gunnarsson - bass, mandolin * Janne Kling - flute, clarinet * Ake Sundqvist - percussion * Lasse Wellander - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Visitors * 02 Head Over Heels * 03 When All Is Said And Done * 04 Soldiers * 05 I Let The Music Speak * 06 One Of Us * 07 Two For The Price Of One * 08 Slipping Through My Fingers * 09 Like An Angel Passing Through My Room


All good things must come to an end and in 1981 it was clear ABBA; one of the most successful pop bands of all-time had run its course. The recent divorces of both couples, Bjorn and Agnetha two years previous and Benny and Frida just one month before recording 'The Visitors' had taken its toll on the group and it's been well documented how uncomfortable and tense the sessions for their final release. Yet with all the drama ABBA created what many fans and critics feel is their finest hour.

The Songs
Far removed from the sticky sweet bubblegum sounds of their early work, 'The Visitors' is a mature and sophisticated album with progressive arrangements and a dark, brooding atmosphere. It's all very European and not too dissimilar in feel and sound to the 1980 Ultravox classic 'Vienna'. The curtain opens on title track with its bubbling synths, eerie vocal effects and a Cold War theme of Soviet dissidents and paranoia. This is definitely not the same band that brought the world 'Waterloo' and Dancing Queen' although 'Head Over Heels' returns to their familiar pop aesthetic with a bit of dark cabaret. 'When All Is Said And Done' which was a minor hit in America has all the earmarks of classic ABBA while the striking 'I Let The Music Speak' with its eastern European melody, mandolin and gorgeous orchestral arrangement is the LP's purple patch. Of course 'One Of Us' is the song most familiar, number one and top ten in several countries it reveals the scars of adult relationships gone awry, something the foursome were all too familiar with. Closing on a high note with one of ABBA's more unusual compositions; 'Like An Angel Passing Through My Room' is child-like and haunting, reminiscent of the more introspective moments found on the Kate Bush debut.

In Summary
One of the first albums to be recorded using Digital technology; 'The Visitors' while critically lauded did not sell well despite the success of 'One Of Us'. Apparently a more complex and moodier ABBA didn't resonate with the average pop fan at the height of new wave and rising influence of MTV. In 1984 Benny and Bjorn composed the popular 'Chess' musical which gave them the International smash 'One Night In Bangkok' while Frida and Agnetha had varying degrees of solo success. In 2000 and as recently early 2014, ABBA were offered an incredible 1 billion dollars to reunite and tour. Showing their age and obvious financial freedom they turned the money down due to a lack of energy and motivation.

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#1 | englandashes on November 09 2014 12:01:46
Been raiding the wife vinyl collection recently and this is one i have been listening to, yep is a good album, well worth a listen
#2 | Explorer on November 09 2014 15:30:12
An excellent swansong from ABBA, which showed that there was more to them than the singles. I have all their albums in remastered form and this is the pick of the bunch. I consider myself lucky to have seen them in concert back in the day as they played very few live dates here in the UK....Nice review Eric.
#3 | gerard on November 09 2014 22:19:54
Nice album!
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