Lexicon Of Love, ABC
Neutron, 1982; chart position: 1
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 and, 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—
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—
ABC’s next album saw the start of a slow decline, but Lexicon of Love had already made good on all their promises—
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.
‘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?”‘