All-Time Albums: #17

ABC_Lexicon

ABC The Lexicon Of Love
(1982)

1 Show Me 4:01
Poison Arrow 3:22 (UK single, #6)
3 Many Happy Returns 3:57
4 Tears Are Not Enough 3:28
Valentine’s Day 3:40
The Look Of Love (Part One) 3:27 (UK single, #4)
7 Date Stamp 3:51
8 All Of My Heart 5:12 (UK single, #5)
9 4 Ever 2 Gether 5:29
10 The Look Of Love (Part Four) 0:58

ABC, somewhat topically. From #100 now up to #17, affectionately. Don’t tell me, I already know!

Ahem. Frequently cited as one of THE albums of the 1980s (indeed, of all-time) Martin Fry and chums never managed to live down its massive popularity, or live up to its legacy. 30-odd years later, the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em maxim has finally resulted in a sequel (if largely by name alone) but whatever its merits, it can never equal the original Lexicon.

Debuting at #1 in the summer of 1982 (tied with The Kids From Fame, the only occasion in living memory that the best-selling albums could not be separated), The Lexicon Of Love spawned a trio of iconic mini-masterpieces in Poison Arrow, Look Of Love and All Of My Heart.

Yet that was just the tip of this album’s brilliance, as virtually every track could have been a single; the version of Tears Are Not Enough included here isn’t the 7″ version released in late 1981 that modestly kickstarted their chart career, since it wasn’t produced by Trevor Horn and would have sounded out of place next to these gleaming, clever-but-not-too-clever slices of flamboyant, wordy, clubland-friendly pop.

This is all fantasy stuff, milked for maximum drama and played out to equally showy effect. String symphonies bookend the 9 songs, while Martin Fry wreaks every last drop of pathos and matinee romance from his knowing lyrics. Indeed, poor Martin spends most of the album on the wrong end of a succession of femme fatales, occasionally getting to dish out a bit of revenge as on Many Happy Returns.

If anything, the formula and its execution worked too well, since after achieving perfection where can you go? ABC tried a whole host of alternate directions in the aftermath of Lexicon, from spiky art-rock to cartoon disco, via blissful house, without ever connecting with the British public in the same way (America, thankfully, was a slightly different story). And now, in 2016, they’ve gone and made a sequel. Result: rave reviews and a Top 5 entry.

As easy as…..

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