The Lexicon Of Love Reviews / Rezensionen
By Anne Dudley | Published: July 27, 2011 | http://200percentmag.wordpress.com |
Throughout her career Anne Dudley has experimented with many musical genres. She has been a member of the avant-garde synthpop group, Art of Noise, who used innovative ways of ‘sampling’; has created many film scores, including ‘Black Book’, ‘The Crying Game’ and ‘The Full Monty’ (for which she won an Academy Award); has been the musical director of Bill Bailey’s ‘Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra’; and, most recently, she created her first opera ‘The Doctor’s Tale’ in collaboration with Terry Jones (one of the members of Monty Python).
Dudley is also renowned as a string arranger: she arranged and conducted a Russian-school classical music opening theme for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’ and the epic string arrangements for ABC’s album ‘The Lexicon of Love’. Two of the fifteen songs on our play list ‘Pop Meets the Classics’ (January 2011) featured Dudley’s string arrangements. Here, in her own words, Dudley shares how the string arrangements of ABC’s ‘Lexicon of Love’ originated; explains the difference between ‘real’ strings and strings created on a synthesizer; and how it feels to be standing on the conductor’s rostrum.
The big epic sound
In 1980 Trevor Horn was producing ABC. At that time the band didn’t have a keyboard player or a bass player, but they had some really good songs and lyrics that Martin Fry had written. As the songs were in a basic form, Trevor wanted to re-arrange them; to have them become more interestingly structurally and to build a much bigger epic sound around the ‘bare bones’ of the band. I had worked with Trevor before on a few things and he asked me to do the string arrangements of the songs. The first track on which we worked with ABC was ‘Poison Arrow’, which was released as a single and was quite successful [It reached #6 on the UK singles chart]. The next main single was ‘The Look of Love’ for which Trevor wanted a big string arrangement on the song. This seemed a great opportunity to do something big and bold. We recorded the strings in Abbey Road in Studio 1 and had, what I considered, a quite large string section in those days – probably about thirty musicians. We had the full string arrangements, violins, cello’s, contrabasses, and a brass and winds section – so we used the whole spectrum sound. When I first heard the mix of ‘The Look of Love’ I was quite surprised how Trevor really featured the strings, which became a major part of the whole sound. They had more importance that I had first envisioned. They weren’t just the icing on the cake: they were the substance of the cake and a lot of commentators spoke about “the big epic sound” after the album came out.
‘All of My Heart’ It was one of the last songs we did. To be honest, I thought it was a very dull song. By this stage, after recording most of songs, we were very confident that the strings would give it something really different and elevate it above the ordinary. Thus, there are some really bold counter melodies in the strings’ part; and at the end of the song I took the opportunity of doing something quite intricate, quite complex. I was very pleased with the sound of the ending. It went somewhere else, it seemed slightly English pastoral, Ralph Vaughan Williams-esque. I’m also very happy with ‘Valentine’s Day’, which starts with these manic arpeggio’s. Again, there was nothing really in the song until we put the strings on it and we made a feature out of the arrangement of the song. It’s quite interesting to look back at the things one does. The album, as a whole, has a distinctive character about which I’m quite pleased.
Fun and joyful
In the lyrics on the album there are some funny lines, for example in ‘The Look of Love’: “If you judge a book by the cover / Then you judge the look by the lover”. It’s meaningless but it sounds important. I have always liked humour in music, which is a very rare and difficult thing to do; if there is a little tongue in cheek in it then I’m very happy about that. I suppose the string arrangements on ‘The Lexicon of Love’ are quite fun and joyful. It’s very grandiose as it swoops up to the high octaves – perhaps just a little bit over the top. A little bit too good to be true –quite lush and extravagant.
Strings vs. synthesizers
I believe records where the string arrangements have been recorded with ‘real’ strings will sound less dated, than those when the strings were played on a synthesizer. For example, Ultravox’s ‘Vienna’, a record of the 1980s, sounds very dated to me. I think it is a great song but the strings really don’t sound like strings. It would have been a different record if the strings were done by an orchestra, although now, it has this wonderful synthetic 1980s gloss to it.
On the rostrum
When you’re conducting an orchestra the sound of strings playing together can evoke an emotional response. It lifts your spirit when the strings start playing together. It’s almost like a sort of manipulative thing. I don’t really know why. I sometimes put it down to energy. When you got 30 or 40 musicians in a studio in front of you they are giving you a lot of energy. If you are recording strings, even if they play quite quietly, you can sort of feel that energy. It’s quite difficult to get anything like that if you’re just using synthesizers because you haven’t got the energy of all these musicians. I’m not the world’s best conductor but I want to be there on the rostrum conducting the musicians because I think they like to have direct communication with whomever has written the notes. And to be on the rostrum is a nice feeling. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
[Interview condcuted by Thierry Somers (03/2011)]
By Larry Carta | Published: October 15, 2011 | http://coolalbumreview.com |
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#524 in the Series) is ABC, The Lexicon of Love
When I pulled this one out for a listen I was really curious as to how it would sound, it’s been many years that I’ve listened to it. Sometimes these 80’s synth-pop or “New Romantics” genre bands don’t stand up so well.
This stands up quite well I must say. I think that the bands high raw musicianship level has much to do with that. Just listen to Brad Lang’s bass push and highlight the opening number “Show Me,” or even on the hit “Poison Arrow.” It’s a shame that he was a guest musician and not an actual member.
I’ve read some reviews that call this a concept album. That it tells the story of a man who hasn’t had the best of times with his relationships. I never knew that when I was a fan nearly 30 years ago. Hey Martin Fry, maybe it was the gold lame suit?
ABC, and also bands like Icehouse, Simple Minds, Talk Talk, Ultravox, Human League were bands that formed the New Romantics genre. They were in many ways direct decedents of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry. In fact, Roxy Music’s one time drummer also joined ABC for a short while.
As mentioned before, “Poison Arrow” was one of the hits on this album, but the bigger hit was “The Look of Love.” It was produced by Trevor Horn.
This version of ABC would release four albums with most of the original lineup, and six with Martin and Mark White.
Martin Fry was stricken with Hodgkin’s disease and stopped performing for a while. After winning that battle, he would return with a new ABC band and a new ABC album, called Traffic in 2007.
If you have this album somewhere in you collection I’d suggest pulling it out and giving it a listen. It still sounds good to me.
By | Published: 22. April 2011 | http:// |
ABC: THE LEXICON OF LOVE (1982)
1) Show Me; 2) Poison Arrow; 3) Many Happy Returns; 4) Tears Are Not Enough; 5) Valentines Day; 6) The Look Of Love; 7) Date Stamp; 8) All Of My Heart; 9) 4 Ever 2 Gether; 10) The Look Of Love (part 4).
History has commanded that ABC remain in it represented exclusively by their first album: a cruel decision, considering that The Lexicon Of Love is just as much owned by the band's production team as it is by its own songwriting and performing. ABC were certainly not a «manufactured» outfit: guitarist Mark White and sax player Stephen Singleton play their own instruments, and play them fine, lead vocalist Martin Fry howls, wails, and croons in his own voice, and all of the songs are completely self-written. But the real reason why The Lexicon Of Love became huge in 1982, and continues to remain huge in the brains of all retrospectivists up to this day, has nothing to do with the band.
Because, essentially, The Lexicon Of Love is the album that created The Art Of Noise: assigned to the production guidance of Trevor Horn, ABC soon found their songs tampered with and embellished by about half a dozen extra musicians, including Anne Dudley, who was put in charge of the orchestration, and J. J. Jeczalik, responsible for most of the keyboard programming. This was the first time Horn, Dudley, and Jeczalik worked together, and they liked it so much they decided that, next time around, they would be changing history on their own, without no nerdy pop kids spoiling their fun with silly danceable love songs.
Of course, if you're a pop kind of person rather than a freaky avantgardiste, The Lexicon Of Love, to you, will be the best Art Of Noise album that Art Of Noise never made. I cannot help (predictably) mentioning, though, that, like most of the popular stuff made in the 1980s, it is unpleasantly dated. The keyboards, more often than not, sound just like the cheap, lifeless, hollow-ringtone stuff that they should sound like; and the programmed drum machines are totally in line with the whole «let's cut down on budget expenses by firing the drummer» ideology of the time (ironically, ABC still had a real drummer, David Palmer, and he was pretty damn good when they actually let him drum).
Discount that time-related factor, though, and The Lexicon Of Love will probably appear to you exactly as the unquestionable masterpiece that most critics have proclaimed it to be. Nine well-written songs (plus one reprise), each dominated by at least one catchy vocal chorus/hook, but never forgetting about real meat value when it comes to instrumentation either: there are enough funky basslines, quirky guitar riffs, and mesmerizing sax patterns to fill out a minor band's entire career. Meanwhile, Horn and Co. ensure that the background be properly strewn with as many overdubs as it takes to instigate a symphonic feeling, but never too many so as not to drown any of the songs' original attitudes. After all, this is supposed to be «the lexicon of love», not «the lexicon of cool studio tricks».
The difference it takes is striking when you compare the original single release of 'Tears Are Not Enough', produced by Steve Brown, with the Horn team re-recording: from the very first seconds, the chicken-scratchy guitar rings out as if it were trying to establish itself as an art form, rather than simply mumbling quietly in the background, allowing you to dance to it and nothing more. This pushes the disco form much further than, say, Giorgio Moroder's style, further away from the hunting territory of «body music» and more into the realm of the «anything can happen» spirit. But, of course, technically it's still dance music.
The hit singles — 'Poison Arrow', 'The Look Of Love', 'All Of My Heart' — were all deserved, but really, any of these songs would do as a hit single, despite the fact that the album is sometimes described as «conceptual». Obviously, when you give that kind of a title to your record, people will expect to see an actual «lexicon» — for instance, each song describing a separate kind of love-related emotion. But even if that were so, each of these emotional tugs would still work on its own. In this respect, it is Martin Fry's personal achievement that the band pulls it off: frequent comparisons with Bryan Ferry are an exaggeration (Fry never had the range, smoothness, or slickness of Mr. Lounge Rocker; it is really the visual style of his performance that is primarily responsible for the comparison), but he has enough intelligence, both in his lyrics and his voice, to perform all of his relatively simple, and potentially quite banal, duties well in style.
A firm advice is to go for the recent 2-CD «deluxe» edition of the album. Not only does it throw on such tasty outtakes as a whole whoppin' big 'Overture' (featuring Dudley's orchestrated renditions of each of the album's songs, unfortunately, dropped off the original album except for a few opening bars at the beginning of 'Show Me') and a hilarious eight-minute version of the disco rave-up 'Alphabet Soup' (showcasing the impressive instrumental skills of each of the band's members); the real highlight is a complete live performance at the Hammersmith Odeon in November 1982, with pretty much the entire album reproduced. You'd think it'd suck without the Art of Noise to lend a helping hand, but it does not: on the contrary, you get to hear a live, fresh, young, aggressive sound, with real crunchy drumming throughout to compensate for the lack of studio trickery. If the original release understandably gets a heart-felt, mind-endorsed thumbs up, the reissue is reason enough to grow an extra pair of thumbs.
By Martin Maenza | Published: March 1, 2011 | http://mcmaenza.blogspot.com |
In 1982, the British pop band ABC made their amazing debut with the album 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 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. "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. 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.
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). 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. 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 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.
By David Coleman | Published: 23. January 2011 | http://www.noripcord.com |
Perfect Pop #1: ABC - The Lexicon of Love
“Anyone who thinks pop music’s easy should try to make a pop single and find out that it isn’t” - Robert Wyatt, 1996
Great. Pop. Music. Say those three words out loud and I guarantee your mind will be brimming with infectious melodies and vintage chorus lines. I don’t care if you’re an ardent noise fanatic or an image conscious hipster carefully eradicating ‘guilty pleasures’ from your Last.fm charts – you, my friend, love pop music.
And this is exactly why we’ve devised the Perfect Pop Series, the goal of which really couldn’t be simpler: we want to celebrate landmark moments in popular music.
To get the ball rolling, I going to set the controls for my adopted home town of Sheffield in the heart of 1982. The city's synth-pop scene had already spawned two classic albums in 1981, The Human League's Dare and Heaven 17's Penthouse and Pavement. Dare was a commercial smash; its defining single Don't You Want Me went on to sell millions worldwide and was actually #1 in the UK singles chart at the time of my birth. Penthouse was a relatively minor hit in comparison, although in subsequent years it would justifiably come to be considered a cult classic. But if 1981 belonged to Phil Oakey and his old charges, 1982 was the year of ABC and The Lexicon of Love.
I first heard the music of ABC on an 80s compilation in my mid-teens. I'm pretty sure it was the 1987 single When Smokey Sings, which is a decent enough song but very much of its time. I had no idea the group had produced a masterpiece of British pop just six years earlier, and would most likely have laughed in the face of anyone who suggested this was the case. It wasn't until I made the conscious decision to give The Lexicon of Love a proper listen 12 months ago that my opinion changed. Reading about Lexicon in Simon Reynolds' excellent Rip It Up and Start Again book had ignited my curiosity and helped to place the record in context for me. I picked up a second hand copy of the LP and immersed myself in its riches.
ABC emerged from the ashes of synth-pop act Vice Versa. Martin Fry had been recruited as the band's synth player after interviewing them for his Modern Drugs fanzine; as Vice Versa inevitably fizzled out, the flamboyant Fry moved over to lead vocals and ABC was born.
The 1981 debut single Tears Are Not Enough highlighted a remarkable evolution, cracking the UK Top 20 with its shuffling white funk sound, but it wasn't until the arrival of 80s super-producer legend Trevor Horn and his future Art of Noise co-conspirators Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik, and Gary Langan that things truly clicked into place for ABC. The Lexicon of Love captured this wonderful meeting of minds, as an ambitious young band with a clutch of great songs and a clear sense of concept received a zeitgeist-shaping production job. Horn would later apply the same treatment to lesser artists – the gimmicky Frankie Goes To Hollywood being his most famous example – and the overblown, dated results highlight the importance of the raw materials that ABC brought to the sessions. The Lexicon of Love is a wonderfully produced record and Dudley and Jeczalik's performances are integral, but to suggest it is a Trevor Horn/Art Of Noise record in all but name would be way off base.
So let's talk a little more about the songs and the all-important concept that unites them: love. Not the love of Hollywood, romantic fiction and teen-pop, but the miserable and unrequited love of recession hit South Yorkshire in the early 80s. Lexicon occupies a cynical world in which a sadistic Cupid fires off poisoned arrows and the battle-weary narrator Fry is doomed to repeat the love-heartbreak-regret cycle ad nauseam. It's like a twisted version of Groundhog Day, without the happy ending. Talking to The Observer in 2004, Fry reflected on the album's cohesiveness: “When I listen to it now, it does have a consistency because it's all about the same thing: me ranting on about lost love.” I couldn't have put it better myself, Martin.
The Lexicon of Love yielded four Top 20 UK singles, two of which – The Look of Love (Part One) and Poison Arrow – broke into the US top thirty. The other hits were edgy debut Tears Are Not Enough and polished ballad All Of My Heart. For me, the album's crowning glory – lyrically, conceptually and musically – is the disco-inspired Poison Arrow. Its power as a pop single has been diminished by overexposure and an unfortunate association with a million dreadful 80s compilations, yet in the context of the album – following on from the sublime Show Me rather than an awful Swing Out Sister track (shame on you, '80s Dance Gold) – it remains as potent as ever. The synthetic funk bassline and the biting sarcasm of the chorus hook (“Who broke my heart / You did, you did”) are pure pop gold.
There's plenty to enjoy beyond the chosen singles, too, as four or five of Lexicon's album tracks could have probably been top ten hits given the chance. Perhaps the most ambitious of these is 4 Ever 2 Gether. Co-written by Anne Dudley, this is a moody dance-pop number, with orchestral flourishes and menacing stabs of synthesised noise. It’s at the artier end of the pop spectrum, but the killer chorus helps to tie the whole thing together. Another personal favourite is Show Me, the album’s stunning opener, which acts as both a signal of intent and a summary of Lexicon’s charms. It begins boldly with a string overture, before a bright, rubbery bassline raises the tempo. Washes of synthesiser, sparkling guitar tones and a taut rhythm track offer a generous backdrop for Fry to demonstrate his vocal range, as he veers from smooth croon to eerie falsetto to the more theatrical yelps of the chorus.
If Show Me sees Fry announcing his arrival as a new, intelligent brand of pop star, The Lexicon of Love goes some way to supporting his bold claims. It’s a wonderful album of lovingly crafted pop music, the like of which we’ll probably never see again in this manufactured age of TV talent shows and Internet buzz. ABC were hard-working musicians with a depth of musical knowledge and a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve. Yes, they grew up with Bowie, Roxy Music and punk, but unlike the leading lights of the post-punk scene they had the courage to also embrace less fashionable styles such as disco and funk. The Lexicon of Love was the result of a unique fusion of influences in a specific city at a specific time. It's very much a one-off record and despite the efforts of countless imitators - and ABC themselves - no British pop act came close to even matching The Lexicon of Love in the 1980s.
By Todd Totale | Published: January 13, 2009 | http://glam-racket.blogspot.com |
What happens when you mix Roxy Music, producer Trevor Horn, and the synthesizer indulgences of the early 80’s?
Known for a handful of hits and stupid music videos, the band started out infectiously awesome, thanks to the look and vocal stylings of only constant member, vocalist Martin Fry. Martin reminds me of that dude in American Psycho (“I have to return some videos”): impeccably dressed ladies man, and a voice of gold. O.K., so Patrick Bateman didn’t really croon in the movie, but his and Fry’s (perceived) shallowness seems cut from similar cloth: Brooks Brothers.
For their debut, ABC incapsules everything great about the British New Romantic movement. Stupid lyrics that occasionally brush against cleverness, overwrought production values and perfected musicianship…it’s all here in their first album, The Lexicon Of Love.
No wonder they couldn’t follow it up.
For real, Fry and company sound like they shot their wad completely with the eleven songs here. He whelps and wails over everything, including Santa Claus not visiting on Christmas, while producer Horn spends every last dime on shit like strings and horns in addition to the thousands of synthesizers that peak out of every nook and cranny. It’s an album that goes to waste on an MP3 file; Lexicon Of Love needs to be experienced on a shiny aluminum disc through a decent set of speakers.
For example: towards the end of the album, “The Look Of Love” is reprised as a minute long instrumental. This may seem like over indulgence…or filler if you will…before you listen and hear every nuance of the instruments you miss on the original. Strings, horns, Christ, there’s a fucking harp rising and ebbing throughout it, it’s as if the band or Horn tacked it on to point out that this isn’t the work of some punk novice.
No. Lexicon Of Love is the work a heavy-handed producer, an underrated vocalist, and a bunch of top-notch musicians (the bassist, in particular, is fantastic) who shared a common goal of making a modern pop masterpiece.
I’ll be damned if they didn’t succeed and they’re forgiven that they were never able to get the stars to align in quite the same way again.
By Boris Music Corner / AMG | Published: October 20, 2008 | http://http://jouwboris.multiply.com |
ABC's debut album combined the talents of the Sheffield, U.K.-based band, particularly lead singer Martin Fry, a fashion plate of a frontman with a Bryan Ferry fixation, and the inventive production style of former Buggles member Trevor Horn and his team of musicians, several of whom would go on to form the Art of Noise. Horn created dense tracks that merged synthesizer sounds, prominent beats, and swaths of strings and horns, their orchestrations courtesy of Anne Dudley, who would follow her work with the Art of Noise by becoming a prominent film composer, and who here underscored Fry's stylized romantic lyrics and dramatic, if affected, singing. The production style was dense and noisy, but frequently beautiful, and the group's emotional songs gave it a depth and coherence later Horn works, such as those of Yes ("Owner of a Lonely Heart") and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, would lack. (You can hear Horn trying out the latter band's style in "Date Stamp.") Fry and company used the sound to create moving dancefloor epics like "Many Happy Returns," which, like most of the album's tracks, deserved to be a hit single. (In the U.K., four were: "Tears Are Not Enough," "Poison Arrow," "The Look of Love," and "All of My Heart," the last three making the Top Ten; in the U.S., "The Look of Love" and "Poison Arrow" charted Top 40.) ABC, which began fragmenting almost immediately, never equaled its gold-selling first LP commercially or artistically, despite some worthy later songs.
By Jim Beckmann | Published: May 22, 2008 | http://blog.kexp.org/ |
There are moments in the history of any non-commercial radio station that call into question its identity and purpose. What kind of music does it play? What genres are appropriate? Who is it its audience and what do the want to hear? What should they hear? A shift in staffing, a modification of programming, a name change, support from prominent bigwig — these major events can force such an organization to reconsider its musical mission. But who would have thought the sugar-sweet, soul-light sounds of the UK band ABC would have that effect? Debuting at the peak of their fame with with The Lexicon of Love in 1982, the so-called “New Romantics” ABC pit DJ against DJ at KCMU. You can tell this is a heated debate by all of the exclamation points:
von Dieter Wiene | Veröffentlicht: 24. November 2006 | http://blog.zeit.de/tontraeger |
Über die Jahre (17): „Lexicon Of Love“ von ABC steckt voller Widersprüche. Unter der glitzernden Oberfläche fröhlicher Poplieder liegen Enttäuschung und Schmerz. Für romantische Flausen ist da kein Platz
The Lexicon Of Love von ABC war die erste Platte, die ich mir kaufte – für 14 Mark 90 in einem Plattenladen in der Passerelle in Hannover. Diese schmuddelige, unterirdische Ladenmeile unter der Fußgängerzone passte nicht zu dem Glamour und der Romantik, die ich mit der Gruppe verband. Für mich waren ABC die einsamen musikalischen Erben des klassischen Hollywoods. Ich verband die Platte mit alten Screwball-Komödien am Sonntagnachmittag, in denen sich Claudette Colbert und Clark Gable oder Katherine Hepburn und Cary Grant erotisch knisternde Wortgefechte lieferten. Oder in denen Fred Astaire und Ginger Rogers durch bizarre Art-déco-Kulissen wirbelten. Sie stimmten mich beschwingt. Martin Fry, der Sänger und Texter von ABC, war mein Cole Porter. „If you gave me a pound for all the moments I missed / And I got dancing lessons for all the lips I shoulda kissed / I’d be a millionaire / I’d be a Fred Astaire“, sang er in Valentines Day und brachte das Missverhältnis zwischen Wunsch und Wirklichkeit in meinem jungen Leben auf den Punkt. Ich war voller romantischer Vorstellungen von der Liebe und noch weit davon entfernt, Erfahrungen mit ihr zu machen. Ich war 14 Jahre alt, mein Englisch schlecht. So entging mir die andere Seite von Frys Texten. Eigentlich versuchte er doch, mir die romantischen Illusionen auszutreiben: „Sentimental powers might help you now / but skip the hearts and flowers / skip the ivory towers / you’ll be disappointed.“ Damals wusste ich nicht, dass die Platte aus der Verarbeitung einer schmerzlichen Trennung Martin Frys entstanden war. Die Frau, die man auf Poison Arrow singen hört, war die Angebetete, die ihn soeben verlassen hatte. Aber muss man Kunstwerke ausschließlich in Bezug auf die Biografie des Künstlers entschlüsseln? Gerade bei ABC macht das wenig Sinn, sie standen ja gerade nicht für solcherlei Authentizität. Das war die Domäne der stumpfen Rocker. Und ABC waren Pop. Groß, glamourös und unwirklich. Sie verwandelten den Schmerz in Disco-Beats, Streichertürme und bunte Bilder. Im Video zu The Look Of Love stellt die Band als Horde ungelenker Ex-Punks mit schiefen Zähnen ein knallbuntes Broadway-Musical nach. Dass die Platte mich auch heute noch so beeindruckt, liegt an der Wut, die in Martin Frys Stimme schwingt. Wie meine anderen Lieblingssänger zu der Zeit – Edwyn Collins von Orange Juice und Kevin Rowland von Dexy’s Midnight Runners – war er ein pickliger weißer Junge mit begrenztem Stimmumfang. Er versucht wie ein Soulsänger zu singen, das Scheitern macht seinen Gesang so erschütternd. Auch wenn ich die Texte nur teilweise verstand, das Schwanken dieser Platte zwischen Freude und Schmerz nahm ich wahr, es prägte mich. ABC steckten voller Widersprüche, sie standen für die Hoffnung im Elend, den Konflikt in der Harmonie, das Lachen, dass sich unter den Tränen verbirgt. In diesem Sinne war die Passerelle vielleicht doch der geeignete Ort für den Kauf dieser Platte, die mich auch heute noch – 24 Jahre später – euphorisch stimmt.
By Tom Cox | Veröffentlicht: 20. June 2004 | http://observer.guardian.co.uk |
Lexicon Of Love, ABC
Neutron, 1982; chart position: 1
Tom Cox relives the spirit of the early Eighties
With its gold lamé flourishes, Lexicon of Love seemed to come from nowhere on its release in June 1982. In fact, ABC had come into existence when Martin Fry had interviewed guitarist Mark White and saxophonist Stephen Singleton, two members of Sheffield-based electronic act Vice Versa, for his fanzine Modern Drugs. Once Fry joined as a singer, he took control of the band, changed their name, and forged an album full of musical contradictions that would stand as a high-water mark of Eighties pop.
At its best, Lexicon of Love sounds not unlike Scott Walker fronting Chic. You might be forgiven for thinking that nobody in their right mind would want to mix hi-energy hedonist's beats with existential crooning, but Fry sounds very much in his right mind, high on his own wordplay as brilliant couplet after brilliant couplet trips off his silver tongue. Even the bits where he gets the female backing vocalists in and whispers to them don't sound too cheesy.
This is largely because there's so much commitment in his voice that Lexicon's songs - potential hits, every one of them - demand to be taken seriously. Philosophising like 'Your reason for living's your reason for leaving', set against elastic basslines, runs a little deeper than the heart of Saturday night, and makes you forget so many of the rules: that disco is meant to be flippant, that it should have been dead by 1982, that an Eighties production like this isn't meant to sound so lush.
The contribution of producer Trevor Horn (already famous with Buggles and later to work with Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Tatu) was key, but so too was the band's attitude. 'We spend a lot of time crafting the songs - they must be danceable, memorable, intelligent, functional, passionate,' they said at the time. 'These things shouldn't be excluded from pop music - they should be exploited and exaggerated.' Conscious of their place in a Sheffield scene that had also thrown up the Human League, they added that 'writing songs is more important than any movement'.
ABC's next album saw the start of a slow decline, but Lexicon of Love had already made good on all their promises - and had hit number one to boot.
Burn it: The Look of Love; All of My Heart
How it felt for Martin Fry:
'For 'All of My Heart', Trevor Horn said we should go for a big orchestration, and we were a bit reticent. He gave me an IOU and said if the record went to number one he would give me £1m. The single didn't actually get to number one. The album did but I've never cashed it in.
'Trevor's attitude was that anything was possible. He said: "If you want a clarinet player, I can get you a clarinet player. If you want pizza, I can get you pizza." That was inspiring. When I listen to it now, it does have a consistency because it's all about the same thing: me ranting on about lost love. 'Show Me', the opener, would be my favourite track. Twenty-two years later I can still get in a taxi and someone will say "So Martin, have you found true love?"'
By David Medsker | Published: April 10, 2002 | http://www.popmatters.com |
"A guilty pleasure, for those with shame. For the shameless, a pop classic."
Few periods in music are viewed with the contempt that is held for the early ‘80s. We witnessed the death of disco and punk. New wave suddenly meant A Flock of Seagulls instead of The Pretenders or Talking Heads. MOR (Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers) ruled radio. Amid all of that chaos was 1982, which for ages was my favorite year for music. Some faves include Roxy Music’s Avalon, Duran Duran’s Rio, Billy Joel’s The Nylon Curtain, Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream, and even Rush’s Signals. I’m also a fan of Marshall Crenshaw’s debut, which came out in 1982, but I confess I discovered that one only recently.
The belle of the 1982 ball, though, was ABC’s The Lexicon of Love. It’s like disco done right, with one eye on the theater stage (the album cover states that rather obviously) and another on the dance floor. Trevor Horn made his name producing this record, creating a lush landscape that no one previously considered him capable of doing, based on his work with Yes and the Buggles. Sure, it was shamelessly over the top, but not in a gaudy way (unlike, say, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome, also produced by Horn). It was a classic example of right place, right time for all concerned. ABC would go on to experiment with rock, house, and Motown with mixed results, to put it mildly. But The Lexicon of Love still holds its own, and is one of the best UK pop records of the ‘80s not made by the Smiths.
The quiet string intro to “Show Me” implies an album modeled more after the musical Annie than Chic, but then the thunderous rhythm section storms in and scarcely lets up. Martin Fry then takes center stage, with his tales of deceitful women and love lost: “When I need to feel you near me, you said, ‘Don’t have the time’.” “Poison Arrow” takes things a step further. “Who broke my heart? You did, you did,” the bridge taunts, but the kicker might be the break where Martin pleads, “I thought you loved me, but it seems you don’t care,” only to have the girl reply, “I care enough to know, I can never love you.”
Yes, the album’s title is more than a tad misleading. The Diary of Heartbreak may have been more accurate, but didn’t quite have the same ring to it. For all of Fry’s cries of wrongdoing, there’s nothing he wants more than love, love, love. Why the girl won’t give him any is clearly a mystery to him. “If you gave me a pound for the moments I missed, and I got dancing lessons for all the lips I should have kissed, I’d be a millionaire. I’d be a Fred Astaire,” he snaps on “Valentine’s Day.”
“All of My Heart” is the showstopper, a string drenched ballad with more emotion than anything Bryan Ferry had penned in ages. “Add and subtract, but as a matter of fact, now that you’re gone, I still want you back.” Fry lets his guard down for a moment to stop hurting the one he loves and flat out begs please baby please baby please baby baby baby please for it. And still doesn’t get any. How this song never showed up in a John Hughes movie is beyond me to this day, as it is still Lexicon‘s, and quite possibly ABC’s, finest moment.
The biggest squabbling point with Lexicon is the lyrics. For every well-placed crushing one-liner, there is another line that would make even Adam Ant blush. Take the line from “4 Ever 2 Gether”: “I stuck a marriage proposal in the waste disposal.” But perhaps the most glaring example is from the album’s biggest hit, “The Look of Love”: “When you judge a book by the cover, then you judge the look by the lover,” which makes no literal sense whatsoever. Even the puppets near him in the video started beating him up shortly after he sang that line.
In retrospect, The Lexicon of Love was an incredibly ballsy record to make. The worst thing imaginable in 1982 was anything even remotely close to disco, especially from a bunch of cheeky unknowns from Sheffield. But being British seemed to work in their favor. Instead of being viewed as disco, it was New Romantic synth pop, or something, which was the Next Big Thing at the time. But let’s be real here: it’s a disco record, and a damned good one at that. There are lots of bands I loved back then that I’m a little ashamed of now (Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy”, for example), but I still stand by The Lexicon of Love as one of England’s finest.
By David Richards | Published: April 25, 1996 | http:// |
Lexicon stands as fine a debut as any by a new band, but it is also much more. This was the LP that gathered together all of their singles to that point and a few other tracks. And rather than simply slap together previously released tracks, Trevor Horn went into the studio with the band and a host of session players to rebuild the early singles and build up the new songs.
At the time of release Martin Fry was very frank in saying that he and Trevor Horn had built up the album from nothing, layering on note upon note. This was no jam album. There was no band that had been playing in the bars for years. At the time the result was something that many people considered to be a freak, an album made rather than just recorded. In many ways this is why the album is such a milestone.
ABC, a post punk pop band and not really an art band, stood up and said that it was okay to record pop songs painstakingly and over a period of many months. Not since Phil Specter ruled the pop airwaves had such a notion taken hold. Think back to the UK and even world pop at this time. The Clash, Adam Ant, and Joe Jackson were all throwing up pop that was "raw". ABC presented refined pop, sweeter than honey.
The album starts with the sound of strings, a basic element in this album that clearly breaks it away from most pop albums. Certainly strings had been used to great effect in many disco sides, but now rather than being simply accents they became the back bone. Joined with a hip-hop super funky base line and a back-beat-you-can't-lose-it, they open the album with "Show Me." "Poison Arrow" follows, the group's second single in the US and perhaps the group's best remembered song.
This is classic ABC in all respects, with the disco bass and the tragic lyrics of love and remorse. The next song is "Many Happy Returns," which contains the great line "I know what democracy is and I know what's fascist!" Next up is what was actually ABC's first single, redone by Trevor Horn, "Tears Are Not Enough." It was the last single released off of this album in the US by Mercury. "Valentine's Day" is one of ABC's gems. A slight, almost throwaway song, it sinks in after a few listens. More great Fry lyrics inhabit the tail end of this song as well. It was released as a single in Japan.
Side two on the old vinyl starts with "The Look of Love (Part One)." "The Look Of Love (Part One)" was not their first single in the UK, but it was their introduction to the US. And while "Poison Arrow" has aged better in the minds of the US pop audience, "Look of Love" was actually the bigger hit (Peaking at number 18 on the Billboard chart in 10/82.) The great call and response chorus harks back to soul records from the 70's. The next track "Date Stamp" further reveals the group's fascination with material wealth (it was the 80's after all) first brought up in "Many Happy Returns." Lyrically clever, Fry closely links the always intertwined love and money. "All of My Heart" was a single in the UK and shopped to several music services in the US (like Muzak) but was never released in the US. Essentially the albums ballad. It is as fine a love song as the group has ever produced (even if everything turns out bad in the end.) Next, "4 Ever 2gether" is the album's weakest point. Not a bad song, and had it appeared on any other ABC album it might have been an album highlight, but compared to the rest of Lexicon of Love it just sort of sits there. Lastly is the tag of "Look of Love (Part 4)," the instrumental coda to the album. We would see this again with Trevor Horn's Buggles album Adventures in Modern Recording and on the first FGTH album. It was a neat way to tie up this classic record into a perfect pop package.
It should be noted that Lexicon was the only album in which the original ABC appeared. Shortly after its release in the US David Palmer, the drummer, left. He would later show up in Electronic and eventually settle into the band incarnation of The The (although he would come back and drum for Up.) Trevor Horn also would leave the band behind to start up his own label, Zang Tum Tum (ZTT.)
The album has been remarkably successful for one that didn't exactly top the US charts. It got only as high as #24 in November of 1982 in Billboard magazine compared to a #1 debut in the UK. It has since then sold over a half million copies in the US alone. The record was certified Gold in May of 1995 by the RIAA. According to Soundscan, the company that has tracked US record sales since 1991, the album has sold over 38,000 copies in the 90's alone. That means that the album has been selling an average of about 150 copies a week in the US during the past five years.
And it has aged well. NME in Britain named it the 15th best album of the 80's (off by at least 13 or 14 we think.) Q gave it five (out of five) stars when it was re-released in the UK last year. And while you may have trouble finding some other ABC albums on CD, this album has always been in every record store we've been to, right next to their greatest hits.
Lexicon of Love was a high that the band would never reach again for an entire album. It really marked the nadir of the New Romantic / Neo-Bowie movement in Britain. With in a year of it's release, full fledged UK pop like the Culture Club had moved in; pop that had no real new wave roots and certainly didn't cop much to Bowie. The style and suave-ness of this album (both in music and image) would soon give way to the new rock of Beauty Stab.
Lexicon has seen several versions released, although none, save the most recent, have any major differences among them. The first version was, of course, the vinyl version. Released with cassette at the same time, the LP highlights the really nice, well thought out artwork, whose impact is lost on subsequent CD releases. Next up was the first US release, on Mercury, of the CD. It is noted mainly by it's plain font spine and plain font song listing on the back. This version, released early in the CD game, was made in Germany. The CD itself has the Neutron logo around the center. The rest is a red Mercury logo. Later (not sure when), Mercury released a US made version of the CD and changed a few things. The spine now has the ABC style font and the back does as well. Gone is the listing of the publishers and instead of saying "except 9 written by ABC / Anne Dudley" it now says "except 4 ever 2 gether written by ABC / Ann Dudley." No telling where the "e" went. The CD itself does not have the Neutron log but does have the ABC style font on it. Last year Polygram UK re-released the CD with six extra tracks (see last issue).
Meinungen zum Lexicon of Love (Remastered) [aus www.golyr.de]
Mehr als nur ein Juwel
Meist wird die Musik der 80iger als leblos, steril und wenig innovativ bezeichnet.
Gerade die Kids der späteren Zeit können mit den 80igern nichts anfangen. Dabei liegt dies sicherlich auch daran, dass die Kids fast nur die dahin dudelnden Remixe der HipHop und Techno-Kultur kennen.
Würden diese Kids, oder auch so manche Hippies sich aber nun einmal die Zeit nehmen und ABC's 'Lexicon Of Love' anhören, würden sie die geniale Produktion erkennen, würden feststellen, dass Martin Fry diese Songs alle mit einer Melancholie intoniert, die seinesgleichen sucht.
Absolute Höhepunkte, damals wie heute, sind 'Valentine's Day' und 'All Of My Heart'.
Wer sich das unvoreingenommen anhört, wird verstehen, wieso diese CD zu den Besten Pop-Album aller Zeiten gehört.
In dieser Deluxe-Edition bekommt der Käufer nun auch noch einen Haufen Live-Mitschnitte und Demo-Aufnahmen mitgeliefert. Was will man mehr?
Eine der besten Pop-Alben der 80er Jahre in der Deluxe-Version
Die Band ABC um den Sänger Martin Fry ging mit diesem 1982 veröffentlichten Werk unbestreitbar in die Popmusikgeschichte ein. Ihnen war es mit Hilfe des genialen Produzenten Trevor Horn gelungen, ein Album zu kreieren, das sowohl tanzbar als auch romantisch ist, das eingängige Melodien mit intelligenten Texten verbindet, ohne dabei akademisch oder zu kalkuliert zu wirken. Neben Fry waren damals der Gitarrist und Keyboarder Mark White, Saxophonist Stephen Singleton und der Schlagzeuger David Palmer mit von der Partie. Als Gastmusiker wirkten unter anderem die Bassisten Mark Lickley und Brad Lang, sowie die Sängerin Tessa Webb mit, außerdem waren die späteren Art Of Noise maßgebend an der Produktion beteiligt: Für die Orchesterarrangements war Anne Dudley zuständig, J.J. Jeczalik programmierte den Fairlight-Computer und Gary Langan war für die Tontechnik verantwortlich.
Unter den 10 Songs des Original-Albums stechen natürlich die 4 Singles noch heute heraus, das rockige "Tears Are Not Enough", das dramatische "Poison Arrow", das ironisch-romantische "The Look Of Love (Part 1)", das am Ende als kurze Orchester-Reprise das ursprüngliche Album abschloß ("Part 4"), und das schwärmerisch-melancholische "All Of My Heart". Aber trotz des höheren Bekanntheitsgrades dieser Songs sind auch die anderen Songs keinesfalls nur Füllmaterial; ganz im Gegenteil hätte absolut jeder von ihnen als Single Erfolg verdient gehabt, gerade wegen der für ein so romantisch klingendes Album doch recht häufig galligen Texte. "Date Stamp" bemißt eine Liebesbeziehung nach Angebot und Nachfrage ("looking for a girl that meets supply with demand"), in "Valentine's Day" rechnet der Sänger mit einer früheren Beziehung ab ("if you gave me a pound for all the moments I missed, if I got dancing lessons for all the lips I should have kissed, I'd be a millionaire, I'd be Fred Astaire") und "4ever 2gether" erweist sich gar fast schon als Progressive-Rock-Song mit einfallsreicher Struktur und Klangexperimenten.
Neben dem Original-Album kommt diese grandiose Doppel-CD nun auch noch mit massenweise Bonusmaterial daher. CD 1 enthält zusätzlich einige B-Seiten der ursprünglichen Singles: "Overture" ist eine Orchester-Collage der Melodien des Albums und stammt von der "All Of My Heart" Single. "Tears Are Not Enough" liegt auch in der von Steve Brown produzierten Single-Fassung von 1981 vor. "Alphabet Soup" in der Maxi-Version ist wirklich witzig, gibt der Text Fry doch die Möglichkeit, seine Bandkollegen "vorzustellen". "Theme From Man Trap" war die B-Seite der "Poison Arrow" Single, dem Song, der auch noch als "Jazz Mix" vorliegt. Leider wurde die Gelegenheit verpaßt, die Teile 2 und 3 von "The Look Of Love" noch hinzuzufügen (B-Seite-Instrumental und Maxi-Version), und sei es nur wegen der Vollständigkeit. Dafür entschädigt ein Outtake aus den Album-Sessions ("Into The Valley Of The Heathen Go"), das schon die Richtung des zweiten Albums "Beauty Stab" vorwegnimmt, und eine "Oddity", die "BBC Swapshop Version" der "Alphabet Soup".
Die 2. CD ergänzt die Sammlung um drei Demos, "Show Me", "Tears Are Not Enough" und das bislang unveröffentlichte "Surrender". Damit kann der Fan nachhören, welchen Einfluß Trevor Horn auf die Band ausübte und wie stark die Songs trotz allem bereits in ihren Rohfassungen klangen. Der Rest der CD gehört dann einem Konzertmitschnitt von November 1982, der alle Songs des Original-Albums sowie "Overture" (als Intro) und "Alphabet Soup" (zur Vorstellung der Musiker) enthält.
Jeder, der sich auch nur ein wenig für die Popmusik der 80er interessiert, sollte sich dieses Album zulegen. Und jeder Fan wird mit dieser Sammlung sicher höchst zufrieden sein: Die Musik glänzt durch das Remastering in ganz neuem Sound und das Bonusmaterial ist einfach großartig. Ich persönlich hätte nur den "Poison Arrow" Jazz-Mix für die fehlenden "The Look Of Love" Parts fallengelassen, aber das ist nur meine subjektive Meinung. Zwar ist diese Doppel-CD-Version nicht ganz billig, aber sie lohnt sich.
Noch ein Meisterwerk der 80er Jahre
Die 80er - das war DIE Zeit des großartigen Pop. Sie brachte Ikonen wie Human League, Soft Cell, Pet Shop Boys und natürlich ABC hervor. ABCs "The Look of Love" war (und ist) definitiv einer der Meilensteine dieser Zeit. Produzent Trevor Horn verstand es in the "The Look of Love" allerfeinsten Pop mit Stilelementen aus Funk und Soul zu vermengen und in virtuose Arrangements zu verpacken. "The Look of Love" ist überschwänglich, enthusiastisch und dennoch stilsicher. Vorsicht sei geboten: Dieses Album kann zu Realitätsverlust und Illusionierung führen. Wenn ein Mensch gegenteiligen Geschlechts aus Ihrem Umfeld urplötzlich deutlich an Schönheit gewinnt, dann haben Sie diese CD zu oft angehört! ;-)
Die CD hat nun 20 Jähriges Jubiläum! und ist noch immer eine Perle der Pop Musik. Klassiker wie Poison arrow, All of my Heart, Tears are not enough und mein persönlicher Lieblingssong 4 ever 2 gether sind immer noch absolut up to date. Natürlich ist auch The look of love darauf enthalten. Es gibt wohl keine schöner Pop Platte, was sicherlich auch mit am Producenten Trevor Horn liegt. Danke ABC, Danke.
Alte Pracht und Herrlichkeit des Synthie-Pop
Bald schon werden es 25 Jahre sein. Und ABCs „The Lexicon Of Love„ wird weiter als großer Geniestreich des Trevor Horn in Erinnerung bleiben. 1979 hat dieser ehrgeizige Produzent unter dem Namen ‚Buggles‘ mit „Video Killed The Radio Star„ die Macht von MTV oder Viva verkündet – Jahre bevor es die Sender überhaupt gab. Wenig später trifft er Martin Fry und Mark White, zwei arme Kunststudenten in viel zu teuren Klamotten, die „Pop„-Musik machen wollen – eigentlich seit den 60ern ein leicht verstaubter Begriff. Aber die beiden haben Haltung, sie wollen etwas, und sie haben keine Angst vor Peinlichkeiten. Trevor Horn nimmt die Herausforderung an.
Er baut einen neuen Sound zusammen: Extrem vielschichtig, schnell und melodisch exaltiert. New Wave-Gitarrenläufe, Funk-Rhythmen, füllige Streicher, Glockenklänge, Drum-Computer, Bläsersätze in echt und aus dem Rechner – voll soll es klingen, teuer und glitzernd. Dazu der zwischen Pathos und Überschlag pendelnde Singstil von Martin Fry, fertig ist die künstlerisch überhöhte Pop-Musik der frühen 80er. Sie ist im Herzen ganz einfach, unverschämt, größenwahnsinnig und prachtvoll. Dazu gibt es überladene Videos, damals noch eine Seltenheit.
Die Leute lieben es. ABC feiert in ganz Europa schöne Hits, der größte ganz sicher das völlig maßlose „The Look Of Love„. Es ist eine Wonne, und dieses Album verkörpert den gerade angesichts damaliger Wirtschaftskrisen unglaublichen Optimismus der Zeit.
Da entstand sie, die „Spaßgesellschaft„ von der wir heute schon wieder nostalgisch reden – und ABC lebte die Freude ganz überzeugend. Unverzichtbar.
By David Fricke | Published: September 16, 1982 | ROLLING STONE issue #378 |
Review: ABC - The Lexicon of Love
There are a million ways to say “I love you” in pop music, and Martin Fry, the singer and leader of ABC, has managed to cram many of them onto this dazzling debut album. Fry, who wears his heart on his silk shirt sleeve like a giant diamond cuff link, flashes a Phil Spector-like armada of horns, synthesizers, strings, percussion and backup sirens as he compiles a pumping disco dictionary of sordid B-movie romantic maneuvers and smug sexual wordplay.
The heartbreaking turns and wicked verbal jousting that characterize the lyrics (“With your heart on parade and your heart on parole/I hope you find a sucker to buy that mink stole,” he sings in “Valentine’s Day”) may seem like soap opera fare. Yet Fry’s vocal playacting – broad gestures à la David Bowie fringed with Bryan Ferry’s aching tremolo – and the intricate yet remarkably fluid arrangements turn them into a winning combination of Gamble-Huff R&B glitz and martial funkadelic guts.
ABC’s recent British hit single, “Poison Arrow,” is typical of the songs here: a dramatically pleading chorus and a nimble bass line are elevated to the level of High Pop with the strategic deployment of a smoky soprano sax, an oriental marimba figure and a synthesized drum roll that explodes in Fry’s face as his girl brutally cuts him down. Producer Trevor Horn (formerly of the Buggles and Yes) orchestrates these devilish touches into a series of snowballing climaxes braked only by the Bowiemeets-Henry Mancini sweep of the candlelight ballad “All of My Heart.”
Martin Fry’s fixation on the language of love and the look of his songs suggests that this album doesn’t come entirely from the heart. But the hydraulic pump and radiant glitz of the The Lexicon of Love are guaranteed to leave you swooning in spite of yourself. If not in Fry’s tears, then certainly in your own dance-floor sweat.