By Chris Benson
I love my 80’s music. I love ABC’s ‘The Lexicon of Love’, which was originally released in 1982 when I was just a little baby. I discovered the album a few years ago, in a Music Zone shop… a low price CD, and having heard ABC’s Greatest Hits collection I thought I’d expand my ABC portfolio with a full LP… and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, ‘The Lexicon of Love’ is up there as one of my all-time favourites, along with ‘Heavy Traffic’, ‘Flowers in the Dirt’ and ‘Tango in the Night’ (more on those another time).
How did the idea of Lexicon 2 come about? Martin Fry says “We played the Royal Albert Hall on the album’s 30th anniversary, with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Anne Dudley – and it really brought home to me that to this day people have a great deal of affection for ‘Poison Arrow’, ‘The Look of Love’, ‘All of My Heart’ and the rest”.
So, I was pretty happy to say the least when I discovered that 34 years later and ABC were to release ‘The Lexicon of Love 2’ – to follow on a project after such a length in time is unthinkable to many, but not to Martin Fry of ABC. And what a good time to discover ABC – BBC Four has reached 1982 with its Top of the Pops repeats… and ABC were there in the TOTP studio several times that year.
Back to the new album. From a press release, Martin says “…It really is ‘The Lexicon of Love II, not just a collection of songs shoehorned into that title. This to me is how ‘The Lexicon of Love’ would have grown up.”
Above you will see the official video to ‘Viva Love’ – brilliant shot and directed by Julian Temple… just as he did for ABC videos back in 1982. In fact the ‘Viva Love’ promo was shot in the same East London theatre as the promo video for ‘Poison Arrow’ – I kid you not.
Track 1 is The Flames of Desire, which is a brilliant, lively number which sounds like vintage ABC – it has you thinking from the start that this album is going to be good! For me, it is beaten by Track 2, Viva Love, which I’m pleased to say I’ve heard on quite a few radio stations – good that it’s getting some airplay.
Track 3, Ten Below Zero is a slower number but just as catchy. Track 4, Confessions of a Fool will be instantly memorable too. I would say that the next track, Singer Not the Song is the most modern sounding song on the album… for me its took a while to decide if i like it, but ive found i do.
Kiss Me Goodbye is another great number, and has references to Poison Arrow too which was a really nice touch (Listen out for the line “I cared enough to know I could never leave you”).
Having said that, it’s taken a couple of full plays of the album to fully appreciate it all, and I’ve read similar reviews on sites such as Amazon where the album has “grown” with the listener after a few plays. I think the reason for that is because our instant comparison is to say “Is it as good as Poison Arrow and The Look of Love?” Such high standards were set by ABC 34 years ago, and they’re still being compared to those today.
As well as providing the orchestral arrangements with the new album, Anne Dudley has co-written two songs with Martin Fry. ‘The Love Inside the Love’is one of them, the other is ‘Brighter Than The Sun’. Martin’s vocals are superb throughout the album – Fry genuinely sounds no different than an ABC album you’d have heard thirty plus years ago. The orchestral compositions are excellent – blend the two together and it’s pure magic.
There’s 11 tracks in total – and the last track is typical ABC… with a mini reprise of Viva Love… following in the style of their previous work. I only hope that we’ll see another new ABC piece soon, this for me is the best new album of the year.
I was at one of the quiz nights I host this week and got talking to some customers about 80’s music and ABC came up – when I told them that there was a new album out they were so excited; how many artists from that time would drive up that excitement? I think quite a few would disappoint and not live up to expectations. No danger of that here.
And now, ABC are calling me to their gig at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on October 21st – I wonder if there’s any tickets left?! I’ve only ever seen them live once before – back in 2001, when they were the warm-up act for Robbie Williams at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Sorry Robbie, but I got more excited about seeing Martin and the gang that day.
The Lexicon of Love 2 is available from all good stockists – buy it, download it, stream it – but whatever you do, check it out!