Like most people my age, ABBA were there in the background of my late-1970s / early- 1980s childhood. I can remember children on the school playground singing Super Trouper, but they’d changed the lyrics to “Super Pooper” which was obviously hilarious to my fellow six year olds.
My parents only had just one ABBA record at home; a seven inch single of Head Over Heels, which I would put on the record player now and then. Hardly their finest moment (it was excluded from ABBA Gold, after all) but this was the soundtrack to my childhood home and my introduction to ABBA’s music. It wasn’t until many years later that I listened to the album it came from: The Visitors.
And then…there was nothing.
(Well, nothing until a combination of Erasure, Muriel’s Wedding and the release of ABBA Gold heralded in a new appreciation of ABBA’s music in the early 1990s, which in turn led to the Mamma Mia musical).
Now, forty years after The Visitors, we have Voyage, an album that no-one ever expected to exist.
ABBA have never been an album band, of course, but after the brilliant single Don’t Shut Me Down, there were high hopes and perhaps unreasonable expectations put upon Voyage.
I must admit that I found it a disappointing listen; nothing on Voyage is as great as Don’t Shut Me Down, but perhaps our perception of ABBA has been warped by the reliance and focus on their greatest hits over the past forty years, rather than their often forgettable and overshadowed album tracks.
On the plus side, Voyage sounds like the ABBA of yesteryear; there are no contemporary tricks of the trade thrown into the mix. Indeed, Voyage sounds exactly like the record that it is (i.e. the follow-up to The Visitors) and there is something very comforting in that.
Voyage is that rare thing: a perfect dose of new nostalgia that welcomes you like an old friend. It may not be perfect, but we’re thankful it’s around.