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Since we're skimming the surface darling
Now's time to get in deep
You've opened up the envelope
But there's still one secret you keep

"The Lexicon of Love" was ABC's first album and represented a seminal moment in pop music. It not only transformed the way people perceived popular music, it also set standards for production, orchestration, lyrics and cover design. This was funk in technicolour, paving the way for the more raucous electronic glam funk of Frankie goes to Hollywood, incidentally also crafted by production whiz Trevor Horn.

Coming from bombast rock acts like Yes and synthetic one hit wonders like Boggles, Trevor Horn was picked to produce this new Sheffield band's first album, and boy did he deliver: together with his colleague Anne Dudley (later of Art of Noise fame) and his obvious darling, the Fairlight sampler (as far as I remember the first of it's kind) he weaved a tapestry of sound so lush and luxurious, it was breathtaking.

When you play the record for the first time, you'll be fooled into listening to one of the despicable Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals: a rather dramatic sounding LSO starts off in Show me with a classic overture luring you into a false sense of schmaltz, when after 37 seconds a brutal and tight bass, accompanied by a stellar sounding Fairlight pounds its way into the middle ear. After that it's time for Martin Fry to seduce us with his mixture of David Bowie's timbre, Bryan Ferry's gift for kitsch and Fry's very own sometimes dadaistic lyrics. Northern Soul met Sheffield electronica in this collection of gems, with the outstanding tracks being the singles The Look of Love, Show me and Poison Arrow.

After the album turned out to be a massive hit, ABC took the daring step of making a movie around the central issues of love, loss and treason: Mantrap was directed by Julien Temple and as obscure as fun to watch.


Where are the Diamonds? Where are the Pearls?
Where are the things that you took from this world?


ABC was never able to repeat the success of this album. Of their 7 albums, only Alphabet City 8 years later found them in a similar mood, with strings and soul infused melodies, but The Lexicon of Love will remain in the history of music as their epitaph for ever.

Tracklisting:

  • Show me
  • Poison arrow
  • Many happy returns
  • Tears are not enough
  • Valentine's day
  • The look of love (part one)
  • Date stamp
  • All of my heart
  • 4 ever 2 gether
  • The look of love (part four)

Music to swoon and groove to.

Beat that.

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