Tuesday, March 1, 2011
ABC - The Lexicon of Love
On June 25th, 1982, the British pop band ABC made their amazing debut with the album The Lexicon of Love. It is one of the "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die", and, in my opinion, well worth looking into it if you've never heard it before.
Martin Fry has soulful vocals in the grand tradition of some of the 60's greats, perfectly suited for singing about the quest to find true love and the frustrations of not achieving it. David Palmer provides the precise percussion, Stephen Singleton serves superb sax, and Mark White rounds things out with guitars and keyboards. There are also many guest musicians who further add to this album's lush orchestration and sound.
The release went to number 1 in the UK, New Zealand and Finland. It reached number 3 in Canada and Sweden, and in the US it went to number 24 on the Billboard Hot 200. It produced four Top 20 hits in the UK and two top 25 hits in the US.
Side one begins with "Show Me" and its orchestrated opening and pleas for affection.
One of my favorite tracks from the album comes next - "Poison Arrow" - with another great opening. I fondly remember the video for this one from the early days of MTV. This second single really got the group attention world-wide. It went to number 36 in Canada, number 25 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 39 on the US Dance charts, number 18 in Belgium and the Netherlands, number 14 in Ireland, number 5 in New Zealand, number 4 in Australia, and number 6 in the UK.
"Many Happy Returns" has some interesting rhymes like axis/facist. Such poetry in lyrics. The whole album is like that.
I really like the high notes on the word 'tears' in "Tears Are Not Enough", and how Martin pronounces 'searching'. The beat on this one gets your foot tapping too. As the first single from the album, it went to number 19 in the UK.
The side closes out with "Valentine's Day", full of lament of the broken-hearted - but in an upbeat way. I like the juxtaposition between lyrics and tempo here. The song was released as a single only in Japan.
Side two kicks off with "The Look of Love (part 1)" is probably their most known song from this album thanks to the video (very humorous in parts). As the third single, it went to number 36 in Denmark, number 19 in Belgium, number 12 in Ireland, number 11 in the Netherlands, number 8 in Sweden, number 4 in Finland and the UK, and number 1 in Canada. In the US, it went to number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Dance charts. The beat of this one makes it a perfect candidate for any 80's dance mix-tape. And the fact that Martin Fry says the name 'Martin' in it - well, how can I not like that?
"Date Stamp" comes next. It is one of the songs from the album that didn't make as lasting of impression in my consciousness as the other songs. Still, it is a pleasant song, offering an added female vocalist to the mix.
"All of My Heart" is a very sweet love long. As the fourth single, it went to number 14 in Belgium, number 13 in Canada, number 3 in Ireland and number 5 in the UK. I like how the keyboards "duet" with the vocals very nicely on this one.
"4 Ever 2 Gether" is next. This one is my least favorite track on the album as it isn't as catchy as the other tunes. Every album has to have a few lesser tracks, right? Law of averages.
"The Look of Love (part 4)", a short reprise of the earlier tune, ends the side (bringing it full circle).
This was another record I purchased on vinyl during the first half of my Senior year of high school; it still is one of my favorites from that year. The band was featured prominently on the local college radio station at the time and quickly crossed over to the top 40 stations when their two hits were climbing up the charts. The singles were often heard at school dances too. I personally think it is an example of a perfect pop album, a seamless blend of music melodies and heart-felt vocals. It made me an instant fan of the band.