Atlantic SD 18207
Released: January 1977
Chart Peak: #20
Weeks Charted: 50
Certified Gold: 4/4/77
As I write, "Dancing Queen," the single from this album, is shing-a-ling-ing its way up the charts, and Abba seems on the verge of completing the conquest of their last great frontier: America. At last, the Homogenizers will rule the land of the Heterogeneous. England, Europe and Australia have been collectively nuts for Abba for about five years. In this country, though the Swedish foursome has had a steady run of successful singles since "Waterloo" in 1974, they haven't provoked the clamor of a phenomenon. Arrival could do just that, since it's the smoothest, purest and, in this sense, most radical Abba album yet.
Even more than their three previous American releases, Arrival is Muzak mesmerizing in its modality. By reducing their already vapid lyrics to utter irrelevance, lead singers Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog are liberated to natter on in their shrill voices without regard to emotion or expression, and the language barrier is broken. Songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjöln Ulvaeus are indeed apt students of the American white pop hook to envelop the entire song into a single narcotic hug -- as on Arrival's "Dancing Queen," "Dum Dum Diddle" and "Money, Money, Money" -- is perhaps the most infuriating thing about this group.
Since they are so cheery and determinedly inoffensive, however, one cannot really hate them. The strongest emotion a dissenter can muster is resentment that these charming twerps will attract enough attention to help obscure the achievements of adventurous artists.
- Ken Tucker, Rolling Stone, 4/7/77.
Abba is the Swedish group that hit in 1975 with "Waterloo," a rollicking pastiche of every good American and British pop record of the last twenty years. Since then they have had several other hit singles and have issued sundry albums, and I have to tell you right now that I haven't been able to take this particular album off the turntable for a week. It is a splendid display of sheer know-how, canny songwriting, and cavalry-charge performances. The sass and pizzazz of the group are delightful, and it is obvious that some brainwork has gone into the production, which is also by the group.
Not that Abba's music is ambitious or "significant"; it continues to be a pastiche of British/American commercial pop, sometimes sophisticated, sometimes pure bubblegum ("Knowing Me, Knowing You" is an example of the former, and "When I Kissed the Teacher" of the latter). But it is unabashedly entertaining, and presented with thrill and skill. I haven't heard as vigorous and well-made an album in years.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 5/77.
ABBA is the consummate singles band and the new ABBA LP is chock full of new songs that will be welcome on the radio. The band's vocals are as good as anybody's and here they receive as good an instrumental background as ever they've had. While the band hasn't completely broken away from bubblegum, the album does show signs of artistic growth. Best cuts: "Dancing Queen," "My Love, My Life," "Dum Dum Diddle," "Money, Money, Money," "Arrival."
- Billboard, 1977.
Since this is already the best-selling group in the universe, I finally have an answer when people ask me to name the Next Big Thing. What I wonder is how we can head them off at the airport. Plan A: Offer Bjorn and Benny the leads in "Beatlemania" (how could they resist the honor?) and replace them with John Phillips and Denny Doherty. Plan B: Appoint Bjorn head of the U.N. and Benny his pilot (or vice versa) and replace them with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Plan C: Overexpose them in singing commercials. Plan D: Institute democratic socialism in their native land, so that their money lust will meet with the scorn of their fellow citizens. C
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Arrival contains "Dancing Queen," the hit single that broke the band in America prefacing their massively successful 1977 world tour. The equally familiar hit "Knowing Me, Knowing You" is heard hear in a rather fussy album mix lacking some of the propulsive beat of the single. Despite the hooks, overall the album still comes across as being simply hit singles interspersed with weaker songs disguised, almost successfully, by high production values.
Recorded before Abba settled into their own custom studio, the sound from this CD, taken from tapes mastered in the mid-seventies at Metronome Studios in Sweden, is bright and glittery. Regular Abba engineer Michael B. Tretrow guarantees a clarity and impeccable balance between the musical forces. However the multi-tracking and heavy reverberation used on the girls'-voices, on synthesizers and steel-strung acoustic guitars, are now heard without the treble limitation of the LP. This produces a sound that is a little too vivid, brittle almost which may sound overpoweringly bright on the average CD replay system.
- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.
ABBA's appropriately titled fourth album of new material appeared after the group had "arrived" as major stars. It featured "Dancing Queen," a tame disco number that went to #1 in both the U.S. and U.K., as well as "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (another U.K. #1 that hit the Top 40 in the U.S.) and a third single, "Money, Money, Money." * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Although ABBA's Gold is a glittering array of highlights and party sure-things, for those who wonder what an original ABBA album is like, Arrival finds the band at its peak. Timed to concur with ABBA's first international tour, Arrival features the hits "Dancing Queen" and "Knowing Me, Knowing You." * * *
- Roger Catlin, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
By 1976, Abba had escaped from the deadly stigma that affects the musical credibility of all Eurovision Song Contest winners. Moreover, their string of hits had proved that they had the commercial wherewithal to continue and expand on their musical conquest of Europe and take on the U.S. market.
Arrival was their fourth UK album release, and their second of eight consecutive albums to top the UK chart. The biggest song here is the joyous "Dancing Queen," their fourth UK No. 1 single, and also their only U.S. chart-topper. The quartet, as the only pop musicians invited, had performed the song at a gala held the day before Sweden's King Carl Gustaf's marriage to his wife, Silvia Sommerlath, although contrary to local reports, the song was not composed especially for the royal wedding. Nearly 30 years later, it has become a gay anthem.
The album also included a second UK No. 1 in "Knowing Me, Knowing You" -- introducing a quality of reflective melancholy that was increasingly to become part of Abba's work as their career progressed -- as well as a UK Top Three single in "Money, Money, Money." True, some particular critics felt that other songs -- such as "When I Kissed The Teacher" and particularly "Dum Dum Diddle" -- betrayed Abba's Eurovision past a little too clearly. But "That's Me," (the Latin-American flavored B-side of the "Dancing Queen" 45), "Why Did It Have To Be Me" (which the group also recorded, using different lyrics, as "Happy Hawaii"), and the very Celtic-sounding instrumental "Arrival," which was later covered by Mike "Tubular Bells" Oldfield, were all highly respectable -- for Eurovision winners.
- John Tobler, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
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