Abba's last album. 1982. The year I was into playing most of my music on a brand new (Xmas 1981) Binatone clock radio. It was stereo, but one of the speakers was really quiet and the other totally distorted. I played The Police 'Ghost In The Machine' on it until it got chewed up. I also used to tape songs from the charts, thing's I'd never agin listen to, like Culture Club's 'Church of the Poisoned Mind'.
("You were lucky", said Duggie, "I had to play my stuff on my Aunty's ancient Radiogram, it was like a sideboard with a record player inside."
"'spose so Dug," I said, "at least I could lay in bed and chill out to the fuzzy noise until the alarm went off for me paper round.")
Back to 'The Visitors'. The band members are divorced and sitting in separate parts of a gloomy room on the cover. Each looks into their own solo distance. Benny and Bjorn are grouped closely together around a pillar. Both now bearded, probably well into writing the musical 'Chess'.
And, you know, the track that I was obssessed by was 'The Visitors." Me and my cousin used to attempt to play it on the guitar. It's got loads of parts to it like a mini-opera.
Now I think about it, the whole LP is full of darkness and loss...it feels like the end. Especially when compared to something like 'Super Trouper', but, then again, that album's got 'Happy New Year' and 'The Winner Takes It All' on it (not the quiz game compered by Jimmy Tarbuck - nobody under 35 will get that reference, by the way).
Even 'Super Trouper' itself is all about loneliness (albeit the loneliness of a millionaire singer in a hotel room). Come to think of it, most Abba stuff is shading it between happiness and despair...
("Hold on man," says Duggie, "this is Abba we're talking about - what are you gonna be like when we get to someone heavy...like Donovan!")
Then you've got the Bjorn specials like 'Two For The Price Of One' a sub-Eurovision Song Contest ditty with lyrics like "If you dream of/the girl for you/then call us and get two for the price of one." You see, the guy they're singing about has a "trivial occupation" because he "cleaned the platforms of the local railway staion." Nowadays such lyrics may well cause industrial action by a large trades union, or at the very least lead to an apology by the BBC, who seem to apologise for most things these days.
My cousin was into 'When All Is Said And Done'. He read the lyrics like a poem. In '82, I was more into Iron Maiden. I disliked that kind of sentimental slush. When I hear the track now it really makes me tearful (ok, yeah, I cry - alright?)
This is the thing about record collections: like good books, they grow with you. You get different things out of the music as you stumble through your life...
("Get off this one, crikey, or I'm gonna jump in the canal!" says Duggie. "Hey man," I say "It's not a canal. It's not man made, it's a river")
For Duggie's sake, I'll skip the rest of the record. Just want to mention two things. One is the fantastic 'ABBA '82' offers on the sheet inside. Great things like an Abba bag (a cheap looking sports holdall with a bad copy of the ABBA logo written on the sides) only £7.50 - including P&P. There's an excellent T Shirt and Sweatshirt, £4.50 and £8.50 respectively. All quite pricey - I'm sure you could get a sweat-inducing 100% nylon Cagoule back then by sending off a few tokens from cornflake packets and £3.99 (also inc. P&P). No Abba logos, though.
The final thing is this - and Duggie, please excuse me once again for being overcome by emotion. ("Heaven help us..." he says). First thing that comes into my head when I think of Abba, is walking to school in 1977, playing the song Fernando in my mind, and for some reason pondering the fact that I would be 32 in the year 2000. Don't know why, but I always remember it...as the autumn leaves swirled around and it feels so poignant now it's 2009...("Yawn. That's the end!" Dug.)