The Friday Morning Listen: Abba – The Visitors (1981)

Share this:

I remember seeing the first ones. They were behind the glass at the front desk at Strawberries Records. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know what they were. They sure looked like albums, but sort of shrunken down in size. The opposite could be said for the prices, which were somewhere in the mid-30 dollar range. Was I staring through the glass at the future? I suppose I was.

This all came up because I read this short piece about the anniversary of the date of manufacture of the first Compact Disc. The CD of Abba’s The Visitors, released in 1981, was pressed on August 17th, 1982. A few years later, there I was, pressing my nose up against the glass, wondering if I’d ever get involved in something that cost thirty-five bucks a pop.

Uh, yeah…I did, though not at that price point. I bought a low-end Yamaha CD player and two CDs: James Taylor’s JT and the first Van Halen album (thus explaining the difference in tastes between me TheExWife™). My sense of audio snobbery wasn’t even close to being developed at that point so I pretty much ignored the sound quality. It was just kind of cool to slide that space-aged & shiny disc into this player and actually hear sound come out the speakers. After a fashion, I did what pretty much every major label record exec wanted me to do: re-buy a large chunk of my existing album collection. Hey, I did it gladly and willingly, so the suits are not to blame.

The silly thing is that I bought this stuff for the convenience, knowing full well that the sound was inferior. It didn’t take an audio snob’s ears to hear just how bad the digital versions of those early Led Zeppelin records were. Many years later, in an effort to prove to one of the kids that I wasn’t just an old fart who was attached to his record collection, I played AC/DC’s “Hells Bells,” first on a remastered CD and then on my original (read: beat to hell) vinyl. Even with a bit of surface noise, the vinyl blew the Compact Disc away. Don’t give me that crap about how the album sounds “warmer.” I just hate that description. No, it was obvious that there was just more music to hear. More organic decay of the cymbal crashes. More phlegmy rasp in Brian Johnson’s growl.

To be honest, I’m don’t really know where I’m going with this. It’s just that the Abba release happened so long ago that it kind of feels like it was in a separate lifetime. That, and so much has changed. The CD format is dying, to be replaced by digital downloads. Yeah, it’s convenience over sound again but it’s what the people want. A friend of mine called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that he’d seen the ultimate in “I don’t care about sound.” He saw a person walking down the street listening to music by pressing their cell phone against their ear. That does seem kind of incredible, though it makes me think of people laying around on the beach in the 1960s, listening to “My Baby Does The Hanky Panky,” transistor radio pressed to their ear.

Hell, I’d pay thirty-five bucks for one of those radios right about now.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B001NB5BXG” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00005CDNK” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
Share this:
Close