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1981 ABBA-THE VISITORS
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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."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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 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 hits.This album was rushed into to release in November 1981 so that sales would benefit from the Christmas markert, 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 markert 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. Also, 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.

Recording an album like THE VISITORS significantly enhanced
the ABBA ouvre. 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 some of the tracks listed below-,but there is no way of knowing for sure.

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

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

The title track seems to about a personwho 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 collorabative, Björn often does not even play on these later tracks,

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

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

"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. At least, 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

Lead & Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad-Agnetha Faltskog,
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wallender
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brukert, 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 etheral
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.

4. Soldiers Andersson-Ulvaeus 4.38 Lead Vocals-Agnetha

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog,Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wallender
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.

 

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

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

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

"One of Us" was this albums' biggest hit single . Still, it was not up to ABBA's usual chart history, in most places it failed to hit #1. ABBA's commercial decline was beginning .The Visitors was the first ABBA album not to generate at least a # 2 hit in Great Britain. I dont 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 dont care much for this song but there some who like it. Agnetha featured in Director's Lasse Hallestrom last video done for ABBA.

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

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

This was Bjorn's only lead vocal released during the 1980's, though the box set revealed a few more 198o's Bjorn tracks 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.

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

Lead & Backing Vocals-Agnetha Faltskog Backing Vocals-Frida Lyngstad
Guitar & Backing Vocals-Bjorn Ulvaeus
Keyboards-Benny Andersson
Lead Guitar-Lasse Wallender
Bass Guitar-Rutger Gunnarsson
Drums-Ola Brukert Perscussion-Ake Sundqyist

 

"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.

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.

Extra tracks:

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

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

 

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 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

Actually recorded in 1982 well after the release of THE VISITORS

12. Cassandra Andersson-Ulvaeus

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

13. Under Attack Andersson-Ulvaeus

Recorded in 1982, this was ABBA's last original single-and sadly, also one of their least successful singles

 

OTHER SONGS RECORDED

A few more songs were attempted'[one of which showed up in a edited version on the Box set- a Björn vocal called "Giving A Little Bit More". The Song "I am a Seeker" was started but not finished . Many of The VISITORS songs were recorded digitally ,making this album one of the very first pop albums to include digital recordings.

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 record a live vocal version of "Tividshambo" in 1986 for a Swedish TV tribute to Stig. ( ABBA's last recording.) Also recorded were two instrumentals-"Nationsang' 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

 

VISIT ABBA'S NEXT ALBUM-ABBA THESINGLES -THE FIRST TEN YEARS ,RELEASED 1982 here...

OTHER VIEWS-EXCEPTS FROM PUBLISHED REVIEWS...

 "Each successive ABBA album has been a little more gloomy than the last...recent singles have ballads of remorse and regret". There is no levity at all on "THE VISITORS except for the dark humour of "Two for the Price of One".....Whatever the source of their woe, ABBA Have again produced a album that for sophisticated pop entertaiment far surpasses what most most American and British groups can manage these days"

- Joel Vance in Stereo Review

THE VISITORS ---DETAILS


* 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


 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 With 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.
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 .But, It's Not 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

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"Oh no it's a really old version of ABBA-the Albums!"