Several weeks ago the news hit the web like wildfire. In case you have been trapped in suspended animation by some nefarious supervillain, ABC have a new album due out on May 27th, and it’s their first one since 2008’s excellent “Traffic.” When I last heard scant word about Martin Fry’s next album, it was in 2011 when ABC had revamped their website and had signed with EMI. Since then, a lot of posts have happened. A few live performances of “The Lexicon Of Love” complete with orchestra notwithstanding, there was not been a lot of activity to report on. This has all changed. What had all the kids talking was that the new ABC album is due out in five weeks and it is called…“The Lexicon Of Love II!” <insert dramatic stinger…what the hell, why not two dramatic stingers!!>
Phew! Can you feel the tension that has built up for 34 years dissipating? He’s finally doing what everyone and their monkey wanted back in 1983! “Better late than never,” they’ll say! Well, I’m here to say that in this Monk’s case, the tension is only just starting to build. First of all, let’s see this vaunted album and view its contents.ABC: The Lexicon Of Love II UK CD 
- The Flames Of Desire
- Viva Love
- Ten Below Zero
- Confessions Of A fool
- Singer Not The Song
- the Ship Of The Seasick Sailor
- Kiss Me Goodbye
- I Believe In Love
- The Love Inside The Love
- Brighter Than The Sun
- Viva Love Reprise
Man-o-Manischewitz! That cover is not taking any chances at all! It is making absolutely certain that all and sundry know that the sequel that everyone and their pet chinchilla wanted in 1983 is getting ready to drop…now! Of course, the big difference is that Martin Fry is no longer front and center. Now he’s the éminence grise; the older, wiser fool watching the next generation get all beaten up in the game of love. I like the conceit, but the rigid format aping the original is not especially inspired.
The leading pre-release single is a song that should be familiar to any die-hard ABC fans. “Viva Love” first appeared in 2004 on this [see left] 3xCD compilation from the Netherlands called “The Ultimate Collection.” Obviously, the song had been hanging around for a while. The version that has previously surfaced on this release in a Brothers In Rhythm edit was a decent enough song. I’m fully confident that the version on this album has been completely renovated [checks]. For a start, Fry has enlisted Anne Dudley to once again orchestrate the string arrangements for this album as she did on the first “Lexicon” album. I’m guessing that the “Lexicon” live shows four years ago put the notion on Fry’s mind to revisit these sounds and themes and to his credit, he’s said that the album is definitely from his perspective of today. Listening to the new “Viva Love” in the iTunes store reveals that the album production has a warm, string laden sound and is more engaging than the first version and IS redolent of the mid-70s soul vibe that Fry knows and loves.
While the notions of sequels [aren’t they better left to the likes of Meatloaf?] gives me pause, the fact is that I’ve really loved the last two ABC albums that were released in 1997, 2008. I’d prefer them not to take a decade to gestate, but this is no longer your father’s music industry we’re living with. Fry is fortunate that majors are still interested. I did notice an interesting detail at the iTunes store when I sampled “Viva Love.” The music was owned by Fry’s company “Blatant Music” and was licensed to Virgin/EMI of UMG, so Fry is holding his cards smartly.
While word has gotten out that Ms. Dudley has co-written some of the songs here, so has one Rob Fusari, who was unknown to me, but he apparently has writing credits on Beyoncé and Lady Gaga hits. [Monk furrows brow]. Another co-writer is Marcus Vere of… Living In A Box. I can’t speak for your mileage, but I considered Living In A Box the cut price ABC for the indiscriminate. The final tidbit of information that almost gives me encouragement against the sobering facts of his co-writers, was that the album was titled by the record company, and not Fry. One imagines, that it may have been a condition of their distribution of the album that everyone and their pet ferret was clamoring for in 1983. For the record, I was one of those [sans ferret] back then, but a few months later, I came to realize the error of my ways, and when I finally bought “Beauty Stab,” I felt it was a bold, under appreciated album.
Perhaps I shouldn’t worry unduly. While “Skyscraping” is my favorite ABC album with Glenn Gregory and Keith Lowndes writing the tunes with Fry, “Traffic” with co-writing by the unknown Chuck Kentis, was almost as good. He may not be especially prolific, but when Fry puts out an album these days, he’s not wasting anyone’s time. So I will be there will bells on May 27th. The question is: which format shall I buy? The ABC webstore has some pricey choices.The Box Inside The Box [£300/$425]
- “The Lexicon of Love II” vinyl LP
- “Traffic” vinyl LP
- “Six Songs on a Sunday in Summer” DVD – ABC performing a festival set
- “The Lexicon of Love Live at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane” DVD – ABC featuring Anne
- Dudley and Southbank Sinfonia performing an orchestral Lexicon of Love in it’s
- “The Lexicon of Love II – The making of the new album” DVD
- “The Booklet”- a unique insight into the world of ABC
- Deluxe AAA souvenir Laminate
- Admission to an exclusive listening party on May 20th with Martin Fry and Anne Dudley in London
Wow! That’s a lotta clams! While normally these hyper-deluxe boxed sets have unique music that tempts me against my financial realities, this one is stuffed with exclusive DVD content instead of music. That’s different. Very different. Of course, the main event is a listening party on May 20th with Fry and Dudley in London, so that’s off limits to the likes of me any way. The same package minus the listening party is a scant £100/$143. Still not tempting. The signed test pressing of the new LP for $110 is already sold out, but there is a signed CD, limited to 500 worldwide, for $29. That’s more in line with my budget, but I would probably forego the autograph and pocket enough to buy a few other titles I want. I am concerned that a standard CD is not on the US Amazon store as a pre-order. Does this imply that there will only be 500 CDs [all signed] of this title in the world in the year 2016? Hmm. Must investigate this further I probably wouldn’t buy this as a DL only. Join us next month to see what course of action I eventually take on this pressing topic of concern! Meanwhile, we can discuss this further in the comments.
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