During the early 1980’s, I enjoyed listening to a ton of British new wave and new romantic pop music, and a pop group whose music sneaked up on me and caught my attention was the band ABC. With soulful lyrics from Martin Fry and production work by Trevor Horn and the members of Art of Noise, ABC’s debut album The Lexicon of Love was just an amazing debut recording. Almost every lyric was written with multiple rhymes in the most unexpected places; almost every orchestration showed the influence of 1960’s pop production and three-minute orchestral symphonies.
This was the album that produced the amazing hits “The Look of Love” and “Poison Arrow,” and romantic ballads like the wistful “All Of My Heart.” It was almost too perfect an album; while ABC would have other Top 40 hits, including “When Smokey Sings” and “Be Near Me,” they never had another album that reached the sonic stratosphere of The Lexicon of Love.
While “The Look of Love” was the group’s debut single in the United States…
They already had established a European hitmaking beachhead with the song “Poison Arrow”; here’s an extended dance mix of that song.
And then they followed that up with a beautiful ballad called “All of My Heart.”
Maybe Martin Fry wasn’t the second coming of a New Romantic David Bowie; maybe he thought that debut album pigeonholed the band into being a New Romantic gold-lame tuxedo-wearing poptop band. Probably explains that when the band made their second album Beauty Stab, they jettisoned their previous image and went for a grittier, more earthy sound. It didn’t work. Songs like “That Was Then, but This Is Now” and “How To Be a Millionaire” barely get “deep cuts” play on SiriusXM’s “First Wave” satellite music channel, while “Poison Arrow” and “The Look of Love” are in that stations’ heavy rotation across the nation.
So I’m going to add The Lexicon of Love to the playlist of the afterlife. And if you want to hear the full LP… here it is, from side A to side B.
Man, at this rate I’m not going to need a coffin. I’m going to need a whole family plot. Hee.
Oh, and as a postscript – about a decade ago, VH1 aired a series of programs called “Bands Reunited,” where someone would try to round up the original band members to perform a one-off reunion concert. Did the host get the founding members of ABC back on stage one more time?
Tune in and find out.