Abba – Arrival (1976) and The Visitors (1981)
Nifty Nordic logo by Sarca @ Caughtmegaming
Nordic Countries Artist #1: Björk
Nordic Countries Artist #2: ABBA
[Albums 466 & 467 / 1001]
With these 2 ABBA records, it appears you can somewhat judge an album by its cover.
On Arrival, the band is united.
2 couples (both in the photo & in real life), sunshine straight ahead, sunny & bright enough to make one squint.
More often than not, the music fits the cover like an all-white, one-piece, 1976 outfit.
Has there been a more life-affirming hit than Dancing Queen?
An easier to chorus to sing along with than Dum Dum Diddle?
If you love ABBA, Arrival will only reaffirm your feelings.
The same is true for those who feel an antonym of love for ABBA. Approach Arrival with caution, ABBAphobes!
However, on The Visitors, the cover contrast is stark.
The couples are no longer together (both in the photo & in real life), casting shadows in a dimly lit room.
Though out of such personal adversity, ABBA still managed to produce a solid album, with a handful of superb singles.
The first three tracks are terrific: the synth-driven title track, the impossibly catchy Head Over Heels, and the optimally balanced sad vocal/joyful accompaniment in When All is Said and Done.
The penultimate track, Slipping Through My Fingers is an incredibly moving song; a friendly reminder for me to cherish the time with my kids as they grow up.
Some might call it mawkish or schmaltzy and that’s fine. Admittedly, I have a bias towards Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus ballads (My Love, My Life was by far my preferred track on Arrival and the duet, I Know Him So Well, from their musical Chess, is among my favourite duets). And I suppose I prefer the Meryl Streep version of Slipping… in Mamma Mia to the one heard here.
But that being said, it’s a fine example of pop craftsmanship, and I’m glad they wrote it.
I should also disclose my ABBA bias, in large part due to the film Mamma Mia.
For you see, in August 2013, our local Cineplex had a special summer screening.
Not meaning to brag, I went on a movie date with a pretty special gal (who already knew & loved the soundtrack).
If there’s anything cuter than this girl singing along with Meryl, I’ve yet to hear it!