The Lexicon of Love Live
I will save my lengthy and in-depth analysis of why ABC's 'The Lexicon of Love ' is one of the most significant albums of the1980s for when the much-anticipated reissue finally arrives. In the meantime, this respectful recreation of the 40th-anniversary show at Sheffield City Hall (the band's home city), from last year will just have to do.
'The Lexicon of Love' was that most audacious record. A 'Fairlight Sinatra' (according to main vocalist, songwriter, and only remaining original member - Martin Fry), that was defiantly romantic, a bold but never bombastic production, drama and disco, literate but never showy lyrics. It still stands as an enduring example of what the 'new pop' song craftsmanship could sound like.
Sure, ABC is now just Fry and, with conductor Anne Dudley (who orchestrated the original album) and the Southport Sinfonia - they made a very fine job of recreating what the band and Trevor Horn and co. had created. Of course, nothing will eclipse the original recording, but really, how do you improve on something like that? What's apparent early on is that the post 'Lexicon' songs on the first disc, the ones that didn't have the new string arrangements to start with ('One Better World' and 'How to be a Millionaire' stand out), are the ones that really shine. It's not that an orchestra has been crudely slapped on - it's all done with meticulous care - I would expect nothing less.
'The Lexicon of Love Live' is more than a souvenir of a special show. It is not about nostalgia. It is a celebration of daring pop music at its best. The band's original record label (Neutron) had a strapline that boasted that they were 'Purveyors of Fine Product' and that, I'm delighted to report is what Martin Fry still is. Mighty fine indeed.
The Lexicon of Love Live is out now and is available here
Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
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