The latest episode of ‘M Means Music,’ the music podcast hosted by veteran UK music writer, DJ, and music consultant Daryl Easlea – dissects the history, context, and lyrical themes of ABBA’s 1981 LP The Visitors.
Using the podcast’s traditional framework of the five M’s – moment, music, modern act, members, and memory – Easlea tells the story of the Swedish pop megastars’ final album before their unofficial, yet temporary, dissolution in 1982. Each of the album’s tracks are put under the microscope in turn, including the singles “One Of Us,” “When All Is Said And Done,” “Head Over Heels” and “The Visitors,” and deep-cut “Slipping Through My Fingers.”
The latter, described by Easlea as “evidence enough of ABBA songs as slumbering giants,” gained a new popularity after it was featured in the film adaptation of the jukebox musical Mamma Mia.
“[The Visitors] is a complex record of contrasting emotions, which for years had the weighty honor of being the group’s final album,” comments Easlea in the opening of the episode. “[It is] a downbeat coda to what had been a scintillating decade of pop.”
The Visitors is the first album ABBA had produced since the divorce of Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid “Frida” Reuss earlier in 1981, which had put a strain on their musical partnership. Bjorn Ulvaeus had also recently remarried after divorcing Agnetha Faltskog in 1979. Upon its release in the run-up to the Christmas of that year, it shot straight to Number 1 in the UK album charts.
Easlea is a former staff writer for Record Collector magazine. Over a career spanning four decades, he has served as the Head of Motown UK’s catalog and worked as a consultant to countless labels and artists, and continues to work as a DJ. He is the author of several books including Without Frontiers: The Life and Music of Peter Gabriel; Everybody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco and Talent Is An Asset: The story of Sparks.
Previous episodes of ‘M Means Music’ have featured deep dives into the likes of Metallica’s The Black Album, Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis, and Lorde’s Pure Heroine.
Meanwhile, ABBA continues to dominate pop culture with the release of their new No.1 album Voyage.