on October 30, 1999
This, their last studio album was truly the best work ABBA ever did. It was a drastic change from their previous poppy selves, but a natural progression since the divorce of the group's last remaining couple before the making of this album. A formidable example of their progression from their first, relatively carefree Ring Ring album. Unfortunately the record didn't do as good as their previous - it was way ahead of it's time and too drastic a change for buyers (though the album did reach #1 in UK for a little while - the singles from this album didn't chart as well in the UK or internationally). Other records from that time period sound relatively primitive in comparison. If The Visitors were released yesterday it could easily and proudly stand up in the charts. No record from the 80s could compare to the combined progressiveness and poignancy of this one. The lyrics on the songs are hauntingly poignant and yet still keeping in the alluring arrangements ABBA was famous for. Agnetha and Frida's vocals were higlighted as never before by the effects and emotion in the music. The entire album a forgotten masterpiece - from the amazing cover to the distinctive music. Anyone who enjoys ABBA HAS to (and i mean that!) get this album. I first heard this album in 95 and it has never worn on me. (hint hint: the Imported version of this album w/ the bonus tracks makes this record sound twice as good as it already is!) I will even say it is an essential for every cd collection.
on November 15, 2011
Having owned all of the main ABBA albums on Atlantic vinyl for some years, I find these latest remasters to be very poor sonic representations of the original releases. The principal offense in this regard has been the indiscriminate use of digital compression by the attending audio engineers, resulting in a sound which is louder and punchier overall, but with a tremendous loss of dynamic range and increased distortion, especially at higher volume. This is just dandy if you plan on listening in your car, on your tiny boombox, or through an Ipod, but the limitations of this technique for "enhancing" sound will be immediately evident upon even the most casual listening through any marginally decent HiFi system.
The original Polydor issues of all these albums (still available used on Amazon and that auction site) in fact have substantially better audio quality, assuming, that is, that you take the expression "better audio quality" to imply such pesky things as a conspicuously enlarged stereo image, greater acoustic separation and dynamic range, and a lack of distortion at higher volume. While a bit more difficult to come by than the 2001 and 2005 remasters, the original Polydors (UK and West German) are all reported to be flat transfers from the original LP masters; as such, the dynamic range is completely intact, and no noise reduction has been used. For me, this is the ideal way to listen to ABBA in the digital format.
If, however, you would really like to hear what all the fuss is about ABBA, just get yourself a modest turntable and pick up some of the original vinyl pressings on that auction site or at your local flea market/thrift shop. I assure you that, having done so, you will cease to consider altogether the question of which of the latest newfangled digital ABBA remasters to get.
on December 1, 2002
This album (their last album) released in 1981 was truly the best work ABBA ever did. It was a drastic change from the purely pop context that made them famous, but nevertheless a natural progression since the divorce of the group's last remaining couple before the making of this album. "The Visitors" is the ultimate example of their progression from their first, relatively lightweight "Ring Ring" album in 1973. Unfortunately the record didn't do as good as their previous - it was way ahead of it's time and ABBA were no longer progressing with the mainstream, but going into a much higher direction. (though the album did reach #1 in UK for a little while - the singles from this album didn't chart as well in the UK or internationally). The sound on this record (and the singles that followed) weren't completely within the synth pop sound of the early eighties. Although as time has told, this record has held up much better compared to many of the other, more popular records of the time.
ABBA's records will always remain classics, but compared to the rest of their catalogue, the progressive sound and poignancy of this one has no comparison. The lyrics have a depth that is sometimes haunting and yet still keeping within the trademark melodic arrangements they were famous for. Agnetha and Frida's vocals were higlighted as never before by the digital effects and emotion in the music.
People don't usually think or talk about this album when mentioning essential ABBA recordings. It just goes to show how this album is a forgotten, underrated masterpiece - from the amazing cover to the outstanding music. I first heard this album over seven years ago and it still hasn't worn on me. Timeless, distinctive work like this stands out in any context. An essential ABBA album.
on October 4, 2001
Not by any chance the typical Abba album, "The Visitors" shows the world a totally different reality than the one that was experienced through their previous recordings. If "Ring Ring" or "Arrival" featured innocent and candid lyrics, and "Voulez-Vous" or "Super Trouper" were deeply involved with the disco-revolution that the world was living, "The Visitors", stands out as the best Abba album because of its strength. This is a pop record, made by people who know how to make pop sound like pop.
Probably a big part of the strength of the album had to do with the lives of the members of the band during the recording. With guitarist/composer Bjorn Ulvaeus and singer Agnetha Faltskog already divorced since 1979, the band had to suffer the divorce of the second marriage, between keyboardist/composer Benny Andersson and singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The result of these hard situations are the most sincere lyrics ever written by this band.
From beginning to end, the album is astonishing. "The Visitors" is the first (and the best in my humble opinion) track, and features an amazing Frida lead vocal, and altered all-band vocals for the bridge and chorus. The theme of the album goes through all these marriage complications, and it's mostly Frida the one who gets to sing the most intense lyrics this time. "When All Is Said And Done" (re-recorded in Spanish as "No Hay A Quien Culpar", this version is available on the "Oro: Grandes Éxitos" compilation) is a strong "goodbye" song, ironically with Benny playing an amazing piano part. We see Frida on her best vocal way also with "I Let The Music Speak", a track that explores the not always well apreciated theatrical vein of the band. The beautiful, haunting closing track (and a good farewell track for the band) is "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room", the one and only Abba track that does not feature a single vocal harmony, not even in the background. The song is sweet and tender, it sounds like Frida is sending her children to sleep.
While Bjorn pays his personal tribute to The Beatles with the Pepper-ish "Two For The Price Of One", Agnetha gets the chance to sing on "Head Over Heels", a great poppy track; the haunting "One Of Us" (the only song from this album that made it to the "Gold" compilation"), in which she shows yet again her talents as a vocalist; "Soldiers", which is an ambient surrealistic track resemblent to the anthem "Eagle", released on 1978; and "Slipping Through My Fingers", the sweetest song of the bunch, talking about how hard is for parents to handle the growing of their children. This song was also re-recorded in Spanish as "Se Me Está Escapando"
The B-side to the "One Of Us" single was "Should I Laugh Or Cry", another breaking-up song, strongly sung by Frida. The next Abba singles were "The Day Before You Came", probably the Abba song with the greatest lyrics ever and "Under Attack", ironically a much lighter love song. Those along with their respective B-sides "Cassandra" and the silly "You Owe Me One" can all be found in different issues of this album, and in different compilations. Those are for giving the costumer a complete view of the moment Abba was experiencing while recording "The Visitors". Their strongest record was surrounded by the sense of having grown up, the sensation of maturity and the need to do more innovative stuff in the fields of music. Benny and Bjorn took their chance and let the music speak for them. They were totally splitting up, but they let the world know about it. Surely they didn't think that was true, but it was anyway. It's sad that after a masterpiece like this a band like Abba broke up. It would have been great to know their achievements in the fields of the complex 80's music scene, but one must think that everything has a planned end, and there's nothing left to do when that happens.
Don't expect this to be the regular Abba CD. It is much more innovative and "experimental", if you want... But it is an Abba record anyway. You recognize them not only because of the vocalists, but also because they're "letting the music speak" by them. And that's what they always did.
on April 12, 1999
Ever since the release of their first album, all of ABBA's subsequent albums kept getting better and better. "Arrival", their brilliant fourth album, is a classic, as are the albums that followed it. With "Super Trouper", ABBA showed that they were willing to experiment with different styles within the realm of pop. It seemed hard to top it. "The Visitors", however, is even better. The lyrics are more serious and personal, the themes of the songs are not always cheerful, and the musical arrangements are simply brilliant. The styles are too diverse to call it simply "pop". There are only 9 songs on this album, and every time I listen to it I wish the music would not end. All the songs are excellent, but "The Visitors", "When All Is Said and Done", "One of Us", "I Let the Music Speak" (do they ever!!)"Like An Angel Passing Through My Room" and "Two For The Price of One" especially stand out. The latter track satirically chronicles the modern day search for a mate through personal ads and adds a sexy, daring twist, tounge firmly in cheek. The title track is about the terror and paranoia of Soviet refugees. This album suggests what ABBA could have done if they stayed together; but they quit while they were on top. They knew it was their last time, and so they saved the very best for last. If you are a genuine ABBA fan, you cannot be without this album. If you are a casual ABBA listener, Take A Chance on "The Visitors". You won't be disappointed!!!
on January 26, 1999
Although ABBA recorded for a few years after The Visitors, this album was their last working album. If you're expecting the chirping bubblegum of hits before, you might be disappointed with this album. This album sports a slightly different sound for ABBA. The lyrics are darker and more mature- a slight departure from the light bubblegum sound of pervious albums. Critics sum up the darker mood of this album to stress in the group, but it seems to me that it's because of a desire to write songs that were considered less pop and more developed. This probably is the reason for this being the last working album -- it became more, and more work to come up for new better songs for the group. Stand out songs on this album are The Visitors, When All Is Said And Done, I Let The Music Speak, One Of Us, Like An Angel Passing Through My Room and Soldiers. Added songs on this CD-You Owe Me One, Under Attack, The Day Before You Came and Should I Laugh Or Cry are an bonus of B-sides that are worth a listen.
on June 18, 2002
This album immediately grabbed me the first time I heard it. No, it doesn't contain some of the magic of ABBA that the previous albums do. But it does give us a picture of four older superstars who have been through heartache and who have expressed it beautifully in each and every song. This album contains a huge amount of depth and maturity that ABBA's critics said the group lacked. And the four bonus tracks even further show the groups disillusionment with the life as a superstar without compromising their artistic expressions. Some of the melodies are so haunting, and Frida's pureness of voice becomes very prominent in this CD (take, for instance, Like an Angel Passing Through My Room, or I Let the Music Speak). I think this is one album that she definitely outshines Agnetha (who I loved on the earlier ABBA albums). If you are a tried and true ABBA fan, then this CD will give you a whole new respect for each of the 4 members and their incredible talents.
on April 23, 2013
“The Visitors” was Abba’s eighth and ultimately final studio album. For the loyal Abba fans, this album was quite a shocker. Best way to describe it, “The Visitors” is not your usual ABBA album. The group at this point consisted of two formerly married couples who were now both divorced so the sessions for “The Visitors” could not have been easy. The songs on “The Visitors” are no longer simple and light pop fair but instead the themes of break ups, loneliness, moving on and even the Cold War in Europe are all very present on this beautifully written and beautifully sung album. The over all feel of the album is far darker then the previous year’s “Super Trouper” but far more satisfying in the end. With each listen this album gets better and better. Just listen to the paranoia infused opening title track which deals with the communist oppression. Frida uses her voice as an instrument to convey fear and panic unlike on any previous ABBA song. “Soldiers” is another politically motivated track that sounds like a paranoid tango. The subject of facing the aftermath of a failed relationship where no one is to blame is beautifully handled on the stunning and deeply personal “When All Is Said And Done”, an international hit stunningly sung by Frida. Further displaying her versatility as a vocalist, Frida also does an amazing job on the simple and haunting “Like An Angel Passing Through My Room” and on the powerful “I Let The Music Speak”. Continuing with their new found maturity, ABBA moves further in the serious path with Agnetha doing a beautiful and heartbreaking lead on “One Of Us” and on “Slipping Through My Fingers”. The only trace of the ABBA of the 70’s is evident on the Agnetha sang “Head Over Heels”, a solid dance track that should have been a world wide smash, and on the Bjorn sung “Two For The Price Of One”, which would have to be the most strange song ever recorded by ABBA.
This is a great treat for CD/ABBA collectors. This re-master contains the original mysterious album artwork, both front and back, along with beautiful alternate cover shots for the singles inside the booklet. The booklet also has fascinating liner notes and brand new commentary with both Bjorn and Benny. The packaging itself is also great as is the sound. However, the best part of this re-master is the addition of SEVEN Bonus tracks that are included here, including the never before heard “From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel”, demonstrating how the song progressed from one take to another. “Should I Laugh Or Cry”, originally recorded during the “Visitors” sessions but not included on the album release, is a gem. Featuring another great vocal lead by Frida, it was previously only available as a B-Side to “One Of Us”. “I Am The City” and “You Owe Me One” are two never released songs that were recorded after “The Visitors” as tracks for ABBA’s next studio album which never materialized. The songs were relegated to the vaults for years but are now available here as bonus tracks. “Under Attack” was one of the last few ABBA songs recorded and shows the group entering the early 80’s electronica craze with style. “Cassandra”, with shades of “Chiquitita” echoing through it, is another beautiful song. But the real masterpiece has to be “The Day Before You Came”, masterfully sung by Agnetha. What a way for ABBA, the biggest selling band in the world in the 70’s, to end their chapter as an active group. Having all these bonus tracks on one cd, makes this Deluxe version of “The Visitors” a must have. And the bonus DVD makes this a Deluxe indeed. So much material that is a delight for ABBA fans. The promotional clip for “When All Is Said And Done” is a treat, and ABBA singing “Two For The Price Of One” and “Slipping Through My Fingers” on the Dick Cavett show is another rare find. Highly recommended for every one, not just ABBA fans.
on May 12, 2008
I first heard "The Visitors" 25 years ago cruising around w/friends in college, and I remember my friend Diane warning us that this Abba tape would trip us out...the intro "sounds like Rush", I remember her saying. And for a guy who preferred hard rock and metal, I was intrigued. The melodies and the lyrics made you realize this wasn't the overproduced numbers that ABBA was famous for pop audiences in the US; it was mature in lyrics and its styling. Years later I bought the CD, and I can say it's one of my favorites when I'm in the mood for something somber and reflective - check it out if you don't have it.
on February 24, 2015
This is my absolute FAVORITE ABBA recording! Although their last recording before parting ways, I am delightfully astonished every time I listen to the songs on this recording - at just how much ABBA's sound heralded in the 1980's in such a brilliant way. I love every track and I always feel sad when I listen because it was their last recording as ABBA. I have since followed the career of Agnetha Folkskog, and love to listen to her solo work. This is a MUST for any ABBA fan!