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ABBA-1981- The Visitors

 

"Standing calmly at the crossroads,
no desire to run, there's no hurry anymore, when all is said and done."


The Visitors deluxe edition came out on Monday,  April 23 in many territories It is  Available   on April 27 in Australia and New Zealand.  May 1 in Canada. ABBA-The Visitors (Deluxe Edition), Universal Music CD/DVD International release April 23, 2012 

For once, ABBA's record label, Universal,  actually has managed to  surprised us. Universal  Music's  press release about a "new" ABBA song has drawn a considerable attention on world news Websites, much more attention than  other recent reissues  have gotten, probably more attention than it should have gotten.

The deluxe edition of The Visitors was be released in April of 2012 and it will include "From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel (demos)" a  recording which has never  been released before. The press release originally did not state exactly what these unreleased demos consist of -but a week later Benny Andersson confirmed that it was merely work  tapes for the released  track,  "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room". When, the song was originally recorded it was more  complex, and early  mixes were made of the more complicated versions of the song.   . There have  already  been a few " work in progress tapes" already heard  unofficially from The Visitors sessions, due to a theft of tape copies from Bjorn's car.  These bootleg tracks  have included instrumental versions of  songs, and early takes of songs such as "When All is Said and Done, and "Two for the Price of One's  these bootlegs are what is included here.  

It was  Benny Andersson's  idea in  October and November of 2011 to edit a   eight-minute medley of the various working tapes of  "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room". Included from  various work tapes   is  the original  demo, with actually rather good vocals by Björn, a unpleasant disco version, an alternate lyric version called ‘Another Morning Without You’ and a run-through with Benny on electric piano and Frida on lead vocals. There is nothing on the mix to suggest that they picked the wrong version of the song, but there is lots of interesting variations on the song, include clearly a bad idea or two.  A few places in there some cool  backing vocal bits, but in general the song seems to sound better without Agnetha on it.  

Bjorn and Benny have usually been hesitant to release their unreleased stuff-so the release of "From a Twinkling Star..." is bizarrely inconsistent from that policy.  Why not do the same thing for the other ABBA deluxe releases, for example release the work tapes for "Chiquitita" which had been contemplated back when when the box set was issued in 1994.  Why not release "Just Like That" the excellent 1982 track  that has yet to see full release.  JLT is the  holy grail of unreleased ABBA tracks. (The various reissues of the Visitors  album  have always contained some selection of the tracks recorded in 1982 after The Visitor album was released.) Bjorn was once asked by a fan on the group's official website if they would ever release a Beatles Anthology style collection of rare tracks and outtakes, his reaction was total disdain for the very idea. Benny  recently said that he hoped this was the last of the unreleased recordings.

The CD/DVD also includes the usual assortment of bonus tracks and TV performances. The other five 1982 recordings are included as well as "Should I Laugh Or Cry" and the nine original songs from The Visitors album. The DVD is notable for not including more from the Dick Cavett Special, which included originally   a interview and nine songs. The DVD includes two songs from Dick Cavett Meets ABBA, where ABBA previewed two tracks from their forthcoming album: ‘Two For The Price Of One’ and ‘Slipping Through My Fingers.’.The  video included  for ‘When All Is Said And Done’,  features  an edit that differs slightly from the version heard on the album – this video is included here with its rare original soundtrack in stereo.
Also featured are two lengthy television appearances,for the promotions for The Singles – The First Ten Years. album.

What's good about this set?  Well it is a wonderful album for fans  of ABBA's more serious work, and the set includes five of the six songs that ABBA recorded in 1982 songsl. A lot of albums don't get this  nice deluxe treatment, so I am happy about that too!

 The Visitors - Deluxe Edition track listing..

DISC 01: CD

1.  The Visitors
2.  Head Over Heels
3.  When All Is Said And Done
4.  Soldiers
5.  I Let The Music Speak
6.  One Of Us
7.  Two For The Price Of One
8.  Slipping Through My Fingers
9.  Like An Angel Passing Through My Room
Bonus Tracks:
10. Should I Laugh Or Cry
11. I Am The City
12. You Owe Me One
13. Cassandra
14. Under Attack
15. The Day Before You Came
Extra Bonus Track:
16. From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel (demos)

DISC 02: DVD:
1.    Two For The Price Of One (Dick Cavett Meets ABBA)
2.    Slipping Through My Fingers (Dick Cavett Meets ABBA)
3.    When All Is Said And Done (Original Promo Clip)
4.    ABBA In London, November 1982 (The Late Late Breakfast Show, BBC)
5.    ABBA In Stockholm, November 1982 (Nöjesmaskinen, SVT)
6.    The Visitors TV commercial I (UK)
7.    The Visitors TV commercial II (Australia)
8.    The Singles – The First Ten Years TV commercial I (UK)
9.    The Singles – The First Ten Years TV commercial II (Australia)
10.    International Sleeve Gallery

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ABBA-THE VISITORS 1981 Available on CD worldwide

THE VISITORS is ABBA's most somber album.Look at the cover, for the first timethere are four separate people, No one is smiling on the cover ,Frida, Björn and Benny sit there gazing off in slightly different directions.Frida looks like Ingrid Bergman, Agnetha is wearing what looks like a green dress,-a darker echo of her dress on ABBA's 1975 album.
Oh, and by the way, Björn has a grown a beard...

This album ,though successful, was the start of ABBA's quick commercial decline that marred the end of their career.
This was their first studio album since the WATERLOO album that did not have at least two major worldwide Top ten hits.This album was rushed into to release in November 1981 so that sales would benefit from the Christmas market, The amount of time between the release of The Visitors and Super Trouper was a only about a year , the shortest gap between ABBA studio albums since 1975. Critics of this album say it was rushed to the market too quickly.

Great singles were what might expect from the ultimate pop group , but B&B no longer wanted to be limited to thinking in such terms. Bjorn and Benny were not as enthused as before about writing for ABBA,they wanted to try other things.

It, was becoming harder for
the group to work together after both of the couples in the group broke up. Being ABBA was no longer as much fun.

THE VISITORS, despite it's mixed commercial success (and mixed reviews) was a culmination, a piece of work that wouldn't perhaps have seemed possible in the days of "Waterloo" It was work of art to be proud of regardless of it's reception commercially. Still, with THE VISITORS there was not a conscious intent to make serious music on ABBA's part, it was simply that there songwriting had become more mature and their musical direction less commercial .

Recording an album like THE VISITORS significantly enhanced
the ABBA oeuvre. Yet, it's easier to appreciate THE VISITORS because it's
an interesting progression from their earlier sillier, lyrically simpler but more commercial records.

All the songs on THE VISITORS have clearly distinguishable lead vocalists. Four songs are sung by Frida, four by Agnetha, and one by Björn. This is one album where Frida significantly out points Agnetha .The Frida songs are all adventurous, sometimes weird tracks, The Agnetha & Björn tracks except for "Soldiers" are more conventional ,but all the lyrics are very intelligent. Like SUPER TROUPER this album is blessed with very strong lyrics and a refreshingly adult approach.

Many of The VISITORS songs were recorded digitally ,making this album one of the very first pop albums to include digital recordings.

THE SONGS -Note: Bjorn probably didn't play guitar on most of the tracks listed below-,but there is no way of knowing for sure.

Musician credits sourced from original CD/album liner notes or from THE COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS by Carl Magnus Palm.

1. The Visitors (Andersson-Ulvaeus) 5.49 Lead Vocals-Frida Recorded October 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-,Frida Lyngstad ,Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Backing Vocals, Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Per Lindvall

The title track seems to about a person who is anxious about being visited by the secret police. The lyric itself doesn't explicitly state this and the "Cracking Up" chorus tends to obscure the meaning of the song a little,. Indeed ,the verse and the chorus are almost two different songs. Like many 80's ABBA songs, "The Visitors"has some sublime synthesizer work by Benny. The downside to Benny's synth dominating ABBA's 1980's records is that these later records are less dense, less collaborative, Björn often does not even play an instrument on most of ABBA's 1980's recordings.

2. Head Over Heels Andersson-Ulvaeus 3.45 Lead Vocals- Agnetha Recorded September 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert

"Head Over Heels" was also released as a single in a few places but shouldn't have been . It broke ABBA's streak of 19 top ten singles in the UK. The song
tries to be fun but comes off as spiteful. Still typical of ABBA records of the 80's it is both musically and lyrically a solid record. There is an entertaining video for "Head Over Heels" which has Frida portraying the headstrong woman described in the song.

3. When All Is Said And Done Andersson-Ulvaeus 3.20 Lead Vocals- Frida Recorded March 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad-Agnetha Faltskog,
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert, Percussion-Ake Sundqyist

In a few places "When All is Said and Done" was released as a single. It was ABBA's very last Top 40 hit in the USA. It has quite a vigorous backing track ,the song is lightened up a little by the ethereal background vocals The song has an extremely evocative lyric. Though, somehow the line about still being young enough for sex comes off a little awkwardly. After all, even octogenarians have sex. T he song is supposedly obliquely about Benny and Frida's divorce...

4. Soldiers Andersson-Ulvaeus 4.38 Lead Vocals-Agnetha Recorded October 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Per Lindvall,

"Soldiers" is a topical political song of uncertain political leaning which is made even more interesting by new Drummer 's Per Lindvall's inventive off-beat drum part, and Lasse Wellander's interesting electric guitar work..

 

5. I Let The Music Speak Andersson-Ulvaeus 5.20 Lead Vocals-Frida Recorded September 1981

Lead Vocals-Frida Lyngstad
Vocals--Agnetha Faltskog
Guitar, Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
BackingVocals, Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wallander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert
Perscussion-Ake Sundqyist
Flute & Clarinet-Jan Kling

This song opened the original albums second side. "I Let The Music Speak" is a little known ABBA song but certainly seems to presage
Björn and Benny's post ABBA work. Once again, the lyric is just as good as
the exquisite musical backing.

6. One Of Us Andersson-Ulvaeus 3.55 Lead Vocals-Agnetha Recorded October 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar, Mandolin & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar, Mandolin Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar,Mandolin -Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert

"One of Us" was this albums' biggest hit single . Still, it doesn't get played much on the radio any more, and it only made to #3 in the UK. The Visitors was the first ABBA album not to generate at least a # 2 hit in Great Britain (Aside from the RING RING album which had not been released in Britain.) Bjorn claims that it was number one in the last week of 1981, a week that no chart was issued.

Director's Lasse Hallstrom filmed a clip of "One of Us" which was his last video done for ABBA.

I don't care much for this song but there some who like it. The mandolin introduction performed by The Three Boys (Björn,Lasse and Rutger) is so good that it almost outshines the rest of song-which is nevertheless a solid if boring song. I don't care much for this song but there some who like it. YES , I repeat again- I don't care much for this song but there some who like it . Bjorn likes this song, Boris Putin likes this song, the Dalai Lama like this song, Paris Hilton likes this song....Bjorn's dog likes this song....

7. Two For The Price Of One Andersson-Ulvaeus 3.36 Lead Vocals-Bjorn Recorded March 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitar -Bjorn Ulvaeus
Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert, Percussion-Ake Sundqyist

This was Bjorn's only lead vocal released during the 1980's, though the box set soon revealed a few more 1980's Bjorn lead vocals that had gone unreleased. It's a fun song -with as usual a good helping of Agnetha/Frida backing vocals to make the song palatable to the ears... The marching band sound at the end foreshadows similar moments on the Chess album. Lindsey Lohan likes this song....no, but she would if she heard it....

8. Slipping Through My Fingers Andersson-Ulvaeus 3.51 Lead Vocals-Agnetha Recorded March 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert Perscussion-Ake Sundqvist

 

"Slipping Through My Fingers" is interesting because it is clearly written
about Björn's and Agnetha's personal experience with not being able to spend
as much time with their children as they would like, it was a lyric that many people
could relate to. Martha Stewart likes this song.....no not really

9. Like An Angel Passing Through My Room Andersson-Ulvaeus 3.25 Lead Vocals-Frida

Lead Vocals Frida Lyngstad
Keyboards-Benny Andersson

The album closes with "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room'. This song inspired album designer , Rune Soderqvist to use a angel on the album cover (perhaps his best ABBA album cover).The song just has Benny playing and Frida singing on it and yet is so evocative. Frida's high notes towards the end really bespeak wistfully of a ending of something ,in way it was surprising that ABBA went on one more year but they did. This track was recently covered by Anne Sofie Van Otter with Benny playing piano on her version. Theodore Roosevelt likes this song....no he's dead...

Extra tracks:

10. Should I Laugh Or Cry Andersson-Ulvaeus Lead Vocals-Frida Recorded 1981

Lead & Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad-Agnetha Faltskog,
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wellander
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brunkert

The B-side "Should I Laugh Or Cry " was recorded during THE VISITORS sessions but left off the originl album 'cos B&B thought that it's chorus and verse
were too different ,which may have been the case, but it's still a great record, it's perhaps the best of ABBA's non-album b-sides, The song is dominated by some simply overwhelming synthesizer work by Benny, coupled with a powerful Frida vocal. "Should I laugh" was a bonus
track on the remastered VISITORS CD .

The recent remastered versions of THE VISITORS include 3 bonus tracks drawn from the six songs recorded in 1982 by ABBA .(See 1982-The Singles-The First Ten Years and other 1982 sessions).

11. The Day Before You Came (Andersson-Ulvaeus) first appeared on THE SINGLES Recorded August 1982

Lead & Backing Vocals-,Agnetha Faltskog ,Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad
Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Synthesizers & drum machine -Benny Andersson
Snare Drum -Ake Sundqvist

This was the last studio track ABBA ever made. IT came 10 years and five months after ABBA's first recording -People Need Love". It was lead-off single for THE SINGLES collection. TDBYC was a five minute laundry list of a person's day that is either boring or profound depending on your prospective.The song features Benny on the synthesizer and Aggie on vocals. Listen closely to the breathtaking "Ahhhhs" at the end of the song The video produced for the TDBYC features Agnetha and has the most story of any ABBA video clip. This song was covered by the British act-Blancmange. ". Bjorn and Benny deserve some respect for taking chances with this their the last recording they made for ABBA...Andersson-Ulvaeus

Actually recorded in 1982 well after the release of THE VISITORS

12. Cassandra (Andersson-Ulvaeus)--Frida- first appeared as B side Recorded August 1982

Lead & Backing Vocals-,Frida Lyngstad ,Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Janne Scaffer
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
"Drums-Per Lindvall

Originally just a b-side. "Cassandra" features a intriguing lyric and a rich production. "Cassandra's "packing your bags" section is one of the best 5 seconds in the ABBA oeuvre, even if the swelled voices effect was originally used by the others ) Some of the arrangement of the song is borrowed from the then unreleased 1980 ABBA recording-"Put On Your White Sombrero". To be honest, the song hasn't aged well for me...I loved this song at first-"the oh this is a cool b-side effect" But it's not a great song-just a good one.. "Cassandra first showed up on some of the ABBA "love song" LP collections of 1983,but didnt really make it onto a wide release on CD till MORE ABBA Gold was released. It can now be found on THE VISITORS remaster and on the box set.Andersson-Ulvaeus

Also recorded in 1982 and originally released only as a B-side

13. Under Attack Under Attack (Andersson-Ulvaeus)- first appeared on THE SINGLES Recorded August 1982

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog Lead & Backing Vocals-,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Janne Schaffer
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Per Lindvall

ABBA's last original single and the second A-side, pulled from "THE SINGLES' "Under Attack" ,was actually a fairly good pop song -but the world was cooling on ABBA . The video for "Under Attack" is ominous, at the end the four members walk away grimly with their backs to the camera. Ominous, since this was the last ABBA video. "Under Attack" was ABBA's last original single. It is a surprisingly peppy number for a swan song. But it was one ABBA's least successful singles.

"Under Attack"can now be found on THE VISITORS remaster and on the box set.

Interestingly,ABBA brought back Lead Guitarist Janne Schaffer for this session,he had been there in 1972 when it all started...He had not been available for THE VISITORS sessions but appeared on every other ABBA album on at least some of the songs...

 

OTHER SONGS RECORDED

A few more songs were attempted' -"Giving A Little Bit More" showed up in a edited version on the Box set- The Song "I am a Seeker" was started but not recorded by ABBA but instead given to the makers of the ABRACADABRA musical...

Four other non-album rarities were recorded from around Early 1981 between the end of Super Trouper sessions and the beginning of THE VISITORS. Two of the songs were limited release tribute tracks that were recorded for Abba manager Stig Anderson's birthday. The Stig tribute featured a new song in Swedish by B&B called Hovas Vittne (Hova's Son) and the other was a instrumental version of a song written by Stig (in the 1950's ) called "Tividshambo". ABBA would later perform a live vocal version of "Tividshambo" in 1986 for a Swedish TV tribute to Stig. ( ABBA's -professional appearence together ) Also recorded were two instrumentals-"Nationalsang' an unfinished track-
which was the original version of the 1984 song "Anthem" from CHESS. Secondly, a short FANFARE" was recorded for a 1981 World Ice Hockey Championships. The Fanfare was released as part of Polar Music Annual Report package, "Nationalsang" has never seen release. "Fanfare" is yet another an example of perfectly good song-that B&B have chosen not to release properly.

In Addtion , Two Spanish recordings were made of Visitors tracks -Se Me Esta Escapando( Slipping through My Fingers) No Hay a Quien Culpar (When All is Said and done)1981, 1981.These were the last two of ABBA Spanish language recordings

 OTHER VIEWS : EXCERPTS FROM PUBLISHED REVIEWS OF "THE VISITORS"
 "Each successive ABBA album has been a little more gloomy than the last...recent singles have been ballads of remorse and regret". There is no levity at all on "THE VISITORS except for the dark humor of "Two for the Price of One".....Whatever the source of their woe, ABBA Have again produced a album that for sophisticated pop entertainment far surpasses what most most American and British groups can manage these days" Joel Vance in Stereo Review

 

ABBA-THE VISITORS 2001 CD and limited edition Digipak

This edition Features new liner notes by Carl Magnus Palm and four bonus tracks .Lars Larsson's photo on the cover is slightly different than the original cover. Apparently, Universal had trouble finding the exact original negative. This is the longest and most generous of the ABBA studio remasters -the four bonus tracks adding nearly 20 minutes of music to the Disc. Artistically, speaking the 1982 bonus tracks are a little out of place-since they were recorded after THE VISITORS was released. But musically they are quite good...

On this version. "Cassandra" replaces ""You Owe Me One' as a bonus track. "Cassandra " had been inexplicably left off the 1997 remastering of this album . It's not particularly clear, why we can't have both tracks. Hey and throw in" I am the City" and "Just Like That "as well. Hell why not just make a separate CD for the six 1982 tracks.

The photo on the cover is slightly different than the original cover.

1. The Visitors; 2. Head Over Heels; 3. When All Is Said And Done; 4. Soldiers; 5. I Let The Music Speak; 6. One Of Us; 7. Two For The Price Of One; 8. Slipping Through My Fingers; 9. Like An Angel Passing Through My Room;

Extra tracks: 10. Should I Laugh Or Cry; 11. The Day Before You Came; 12. Cassandra (new bonus track) 13. Under Attack

ABBA-ABBA's The Visitors  -British DVD March 2007
A video review of ABBA's last studio album.
 
Interviews with  Andrew Brown, Raphael Ravenscroft , Chris Salewicz Jeff Rose and Louis Rogers .
Performances featured include: The Visitors, Head Over Heals, When All Is Said and Done, Soldiers, I Let the Music Speak, One of Us, Two For the Price Of One, Slipping Through My Fingers, Like an Angel Passing Through My Room and more!

   THE VISITORS details  * Side 1-  * -Side 2-

 

* -other tracks-

 

 

* Swedish release November 1981 #1

* UK release December 1981 #1

*US release December 1981# 19

* Recorded at Polar Studios,Stockholm

*Recorded March 1981-Nov. 81

* Produced & Written by Andersson-Ulvaeus

 

* The Visitors- Lead vocal-Frida

* Head Over Heels- Lead Vocal Agnetha

* When All Is Said and Done-Lead Vocal Frida

* Soldiers -Lead Vocal Agnetha

 

* I Let The Music Speaks Lead Vocal -Frida

* One of Us- Lead Vocal Agnetha

* Two For The price of One-Lead Vocal-Björn

* Slipping Through My Fingers -Lead Vocal-Agnetha

* Like An Angel Passing Through My Room- Lead Vocal-Frida

 * - the two other released tracks recorded-

* Should I Laugh Or Cry -Lead Vocal-Frida(b-side&Available on reissues)

* -Giving A little Bit More -Lead vocal Björn (released on box set)

CD reissues with bonus tracks include "Day Before You Came", "Under Attack"and either "You Owe Me One" or "Cassandra" all of which were recorded in 1982 after The Visitors was released.

 SINGLES drawn from THE VISITORS-One Of Us/Should I Laugh Or Cry
Head Over Heels/The Visitors

 

* 1982-THE ABBA's next album-1982-THE SINGLES -THE FIRST TEN YEARS

* HOME-ABBA-THE ALBUMS

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 MONTIEF'S HANDY GUIDE TO ABBA THE ALBUMS!!!

  HOME-ABBA-THE ALBUMS  All ABBA Albums 1972-1982  All Abba Albums 1983-2006
 1970-1972 The Early Years (Lycka, Pa Svenska, Early singles)  1973 Ring Ring  1974-Waterloo
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  1977/1978- The Album  1979 Voulez-Vous and Greatest Hits Volume 2   1980-Super Trouper
  1981-The Visitors   1982-The Singles-The First Ten Years and other 1982 sessions  1986-ABBA Live
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copyright John Bernhardt, 2004....

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