ABC: Christmas With Love DL EP 
- A Christmas We Deserve
- The Love Inside The Love [acoustic]
- Viva Love [acoustic]
- The Look Of Love [acoustic]
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house… echoed a special new xmas EP [DL only] from the normally shy and retiring ABC. This year have seen not only a new ABC album, but a few extra-curricular activities from the band like the “Eddie The Eagle” soundtrack or the “80s Re-Covered” project, and now this EP threaten to give us a near-flood of rarities from this band who are capable of taking 8-10 years between albums. One hopes that they could see fit to dole out trinkets like these between their increasingly rare full-length waxings, but no. That’s not the way it has happened this year.
I actually heard about this from prime commenter Tim several weeks ago. He was unconvinced, and since I basically collect ABC, I felt I’d better grab this before it went away, given its seasonal nature. It’s out there at the usual digital gateways, but since I had won an iTunes gift card a few months back, I cashed part of it in on this EP. I have to admit, that he had a point. Sporting a title like “A Christmas We Deserve” gave me the notion that this could have been a bitterly double edged song that ironically referenced the perfect storm of awfulness that 2016 has been, but this isn’t it. It is a cheese-injected attempt at treacle that stands as the most awkward tune I’ve ever heard from the normally nimble pen of Mr. Fry. Though I do have to say that Fry’s kid has been making great strides at mastering that Garage Band software.
Fortunately, the rest of the EP gave me a love-themed conceptual hat trick of generally interesting acoustic tracks. Songs that gave Martin Fry a chance to newly sing three of his tunes [and his biggest hit] in a setting that gave his adroit vocals a more sympathetic setting than the first song. Fry has always been a singer to listen to with pleasure, and these acoustic versions gave me more satisfaction than Tim had managed to wring from them. While I admit that the arrangements of ABC songs can be truly spectacular, I also maintain that Fry’s vocals are their own brand of gratification. He could be singing these acappella and I’d probably still sign on for a tour of duty.
The instrumentation here favored piano, with a subtle, acoustic rhythm guitar chaser. Fry shared the vocals with an unnamed lady and their interplay on “Viva Love” and particularly “The Look Of Love” was very tasty indeed. I have to admit that these acoustic versions have worked like a charm for me. Part of it is down to the casual format. It’s just a quick seasonal DL EP. Unlike, say, Simple Minds, I don’t have to worry that ABC will undertake a dreaded new direction that sees them doffing their orchestrations for acoustic Gibsons and a harmonica rack. I associate ABC with pop music and they have had an eclectic career; most of it to my liking. I don’t hold them to the standard that I do with Simple Minds, so that’s why I’m not a Scrooge towards these acoustic versions. My suggestion? Download the acoustic versions and try to sample the “A-side” before buying. It could be a long decade or more until the next ABC album and we have to tide ourselves over, eh?
– 30 –