The Visitors Revisited | 4 May 2015
Sometimes it takes ten years before you get it. Sometimes twenty. Sometimes a few years longer. But in the end you will realize how incredibly good the last true studio album by ABBA actually is.
Today I listened to The Visitors for the first time in at least two years. Just because I wanted to. I was doing some irrelevant tasks and could use some music. When opening iTunes I found the ABBA discography and I selected ABBA's 1981 album. I have no idea why. Curiosity perhaps. I just wondered how would it sound after so many years.
I usually listen to music through my iPod headphones, but this time the music blared over the speakers. If you are home alone, then it's OK to play the music loud. Really loud.
After a minute of The Visitors I was amazed and intrigued. After two minutes I was stunned. Has this record always been THAT good? Sometimes you need to keep away from something for a long time to appreciate the sheer beauty of it. This was one of those moments.
I never actually was a fan of this particular album, but I was blown away. I mean, I was used to the rich sound, the divine voices and the magnificent production. But the maturity of the music and the lyrics stunned me.
More than thirty years after the release of The Visitors I understood the true meaning of the album. This was no simple pop group, that had conquered the world with SOS and Mamma Mia. This was a group of four adult musicians at the peak of their abilities. Matured by the music industry. Changed by their worldwide fame and by broken relationships.
On this record you hear a band that didn't give a damn about the expectations that their audience might have had. This opus magnum is their most personal recording. A record that even shows a bit of the future. It is pre-Chess and you can hear that this was the direction the band was heading. You can hear it in Soldiers, in The Visitors, in Slipping Through My Fingers, in I Let The Music Speak.
Everything breathes maturity. A group of people in their mid-thirties making great music.
I do not understand why I have not noticed that before. I mean: I've listened to the LP from the day it was released. Of course I understood the essence of Slipping Through My Fingers when I got children of my own, but that was 20 years ago. And of course I could get the point that ABBA tried to make with the title track. But the true meaning of Soldiers was new for me. And the gloom of Like An Angel Passing Through My Room hit me in the face.
And beside all of this there is the well-known superb production and brilliant vocals. Today the album simply left me speechless with goose bumps all over my body.
Apparently this pop group does something to me that no other band does. Oh yes, The Beatles and U2 come close, but it's never quite what ABBA does. Today I heard things in the mix that I never noticed before. I heard background vocals that I didn't know existed. I heard instruments that simply weren't there before.
I listened to a record that I didn't know before. And The Visitors might be thirty-four years old, to me it is as good as new.
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