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ABBA Visit No. 1 With Their “First Masterpiece”

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The album that signalled the end of ABBA as a current recording act was a hot item on 19 December 1981. The Visitors, the eighth and final studio release by the multi-million-selling Scandinavians, debuted at No. 1 on the UK charts.

By doing so, it extended their run of consecutive album chart-toppers there to seven, two of them greatest hits collections, with another of those to come the following year. That run of eight No. 1 LPs, going back to the first hits retrospective in 1976, meant that ABBA topped the British bestsellers for a total of almost a year, 49 weeks, in real time of six and a half years. Another six weeks at the summit for the Gold album in the 1990s made the total 55.

Abba The VisitorsThe Visitors may not have contained as many mega-singles as all of its predecessors did, and its songs and spirit reflected the divides within the group’s personal relationships by the early 1980s. But it was a rewarding album for the millions of ABBA fans who were interested to see the development and maturing of the group’s sound.

While there was plenty of pure, sophisticated pop throughout the record, the opening title track in particular, with its darker, almost psychedelic pop flavours, is a tantalising glimpse of where the group might have gone if they had stayed together. Billboard magazine described it as “ABBA’s first true masterpiece.”

The album was released almost concurrently with its first single ‘One Of Us,’ which proved to be the group’s last major hit single. There were further singles releases in various markets for ‘When All Is Said and Done,’ ‘Head Over Heels,’ ‘Under Attack,’ the title track and the particularly sophisticated ‘The Day Before You Came.’

The album went straight to the UK summit as the previous week’s bestseller, Pure Hits ’81, fell to No. 4, in the days before compilation albums were redirected into their own chart in that market. The Visitors reigned for three weeks, pursued by Queen’s Greatest Hits, into the new year, before the Human League went to No. 1 with Dare.

Purchase the half-speed mastered, 45rpm cut double-LP version of the 1977 set ABBA — The Album, out for its 40th anniversary, here.

Follow the official ABBA Best Of playlist.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Istvan Dan Uriel Molnar

    January 18, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    WOW, Really nice music,

  2. Rene

    January 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    one of their best just a huge shame it was their last, I and so many would have loved to see them developed there maturing style!

  3. Rui Campos

    January 18, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    The visitors!!!!! Um final adulto, mudança a acompanhar mais uma vez os tempos. Trabalho de excelência e grande música

  4. Luke Rogers

    January 19, 2015 at 1:28 am

    An interesting review for a very disjointed album recorded by 4 very unhappy and bored people at the time. Yes it made its debut at number 1 on the UK chart, but it sold less than half the sales of its predecessor Super Trouper. I find it incredulous that Billboard referred to it as ABBA’s “first true masterpiece” considering their magnificent repertoire up to that point. Also, your article is wrong in that (the awful) Under Attack and (the magnificent) The Day Before You Came were not included on The Visitors. They first appeared over a year later on ABBA-The Singles (The First Ten Years) and were only added as bonus tracks to The Visitors many years later on CD reissues.

    • bryan

      December 29, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Luke…your comments are appreciated…everyone has their own opinions and they sehoudl be respected…I personally believe The Visitors is a brilliant album in its own right and I happen to really really enjoy Under Attack…also some of the best music ever made was when people were unhappy or bored…writers are affected by different moods and moments in their life….much of Abba’s writing was VERY DARK on previous albums and was just hidden within a joyful beat.

      • Phil

        December 19, 2017 at 6:08 pm

        I’m with you on this, Bryan. Popularity or sales numbers do not always collate with quality. This, for me, is Abba’s finest moment. The tensions in the band only increased their creativity. The production, writing and musicianship is incredible. While there are errors in the article, as Luke quite rightly points out, but I think the main point about it being their masterpiece is spot on.

  5. steve Nockels

    January 19, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    As Luke Rogers points out, T.D.B.Y.C & Under attack, along with Cassandra & You owe me one were recorded for the follow up album to The visitors, The Day before you came being the last track ever recorded by the group. There had even a sombre mood in the studio of late, and it was reported that the band members just knew this was the end, though denied this when asked on the BBC’s late late breakfast show, though they looked ‘uncomfortable either each other. 33 years of this amazing album, and still as good to listen to today, along with albums ll the rest off ABBA’s music.

  6. Bo

    January 19, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Under attack is brilliant, The day.. more interesting than catchy IMO. Both would undeniably have made a strong contribution to Visitors, a rather lacklustre album. As it stands it has a handful of good songs.

  7. Bruce

    January 20, 2015 at 2:39 am

    I bought this album back in1982 and loved it. Even 33 years later I still love their music. ABBA is a major section of music on my iPod.

  8. Winston O.

    January 21, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    still enjoy “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room” &” When All is Said and Done” and the tille track…If only they could do what they loved best and make a studio album and not worry about videos,appearences and promotions it would be awesome…

  9. Adam Dawson

    December 19, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    The Visitors is a wonderful album it was nice to see it get a Deluxe Edition in 2012, the songs are beautiful and ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ should have been a single I would say the best track on the album is ‘When All Is Said And Done’ and their last hit single was ‘One of Us’ one song I really do like is ‘Head Over Heels’ its a fabulous track and the beautiful ‘Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’. ‘Soliders’ is a very underrated song its fabulous and Agnetha delivers a stunning vocal performance it was released as the B-Side to ‘When All Is Said And Done’ and one song that was recorded for The Visitors but never made it on to the album back in 1981 was ‘Should I Laugh Or Cry’ which is another stunning song released as the B-Side to ‘One of Us’.

    Under Attack, You Owe Me One, I Am The City, Just Like That, Cassandra and The Day Before You Came were recorded in 1982 for ABBA’s 9th album which was due to be released in 1983 but the album was never completed, 5 of the 6 songs from the 1982 sessions were released on The Visitors Deluxe Edition in 2012 sadly ‘Just Like That’ wasn’t included even though there was room for it but the demo medley ‘From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel’ was beautiful and very nice to have some unreleased tracks included.

    ABBA also recorded two songs from The Visitors in Spanish at the end of 1981 which were included on the album in Spanish speaking countries, ‘Se Me Esta Escapando’ (Spanish Version of Slipping Through My Fingers) & ‘No Hay A Quien Culpar’ (Spanish Version of When All Is Said And Done) those songs weren’t included on the Deluxe Edition of The Visitors in 2012 but they did appear on the 2005 edition of the album.

  10. Godfrey

    December 30, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Through out my life time since the days of Abba I have enjoyed the Music long Live Abba.

  11. Pingback: ABBA's Final Album 'The Visitors' Proves To Be A 'Masterpiece' | MusicVaultz

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