1981’s “The Visitors” was the eighth and final studio album by the pop sensation ABBA. Despite disbanding shortly thereafter, this supremely talented group has never really faded from the limelight, and I suspect that their brilliant melodies and trademark harmonies continue to resonate with musicians and fans of all stripes even today – and will continue to do so for decades to come. With their songs appearing in numerous movies, the wildly successful musical Mamma Mia, and constant press about their refusing to reform despite being offered loads of cash, ABBA remains an unshakable musical phenomenon.
On April 23rd, “The Visitors”was reissued as a Deluxe Edition, complete with a DVD of archive material along with CD bonus tracks – including a 9 minute demo medley entitled, “From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel”. This is the first time since the “Thank You For The Music” box set in 1994 that ABBA have opened the vaults to release previously unheard music from the group’s heyday.
“The Visitors” was constructed during a time of great turmoil among the band members, resulting in a significantly different vibe than the light, sunny pop of earlier efforts. Additionally, the age of new wave and the heavy use of synthesizers had arrived, and ABBA began to experiment with these ideas. Other experiments include the epic opener and title track, which incorporates some progressive rock into the usual ABBA songwriting formula. Similarly, “I Let The Music Speak” introduces a haunting, operatic feel onto the record, while “Like An Angel Passing Through My Room” is a sparse piece with vocals supported with little more than the ticking clocks, a chilling reminder that time marches on even after we stop.
Closer to expectations, “Head Over Heels” and “One Of Us” are delightful pop gems with catchy melodies and stunning harmonies. Reflecting the strain on their relationships, the upbeat yet melancholy song“When All Is Said and Done” has bone-cutting lyrics and is one of the most underrated ballads the band has done. A runner up for this distinction could be“Slipping Through My Fingers”, whcih is a touching song about the bittersweet feelings associated with children growing up and gradually leaving the nest.
Among the bonus tracks, be sure to check out the pleasant mid-tempo song, “Should I Laugh Or Cry”, “You Owe Me One”, and “The Day Before You Came”. The demo medley provides fans with a fascinating listen to alternate takes of “Passing Angel”, including versions with the full band.
Full track listing and details from the Deluxe Edition can be found below. ABBA fans will certainly not want to miss this one!
1. The Visitors
2. Head Over Heels
3. When All Is Said And Done
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
10. Should I Laugh Or Cry
11. I Am The City
12. You Owe Me One
14. Under Attack
15. The Day Before You Came
16. From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel (demos)
Disc: 2 (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