Phew! In spite of wanting this since the release was teased in… 2016, it’s taken me over two years to finally obtain the new ABC CD. This was strictly down to the inability of the band’s website to sell me anything but a DL or the three figure box of the album on LP plus some DVDs. Just a straight CD was nowhere to be found,, and the largest web retailer had had wildly fluctuating stocks of this, with many time there being no CD stock for sale when I looked. Since I never see ABC material [beyond the occasional cheepnnasty compilations] in actual brick + mortars, I was thrilled to see it in Amoeba last July.
#3 • 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
The lush romantic strings that opened the album on “The Flames Of Desire” showcased a far more seasoned Anne Dudley than the one who made her name with her string arrangements on three songs from the original “Lexicon Of Love.” This work was redolent of her decades of experience as an A-list composer and collaborator. The sound was also more foreground than the seasonings of strings that the earlier album sported. This one is not quite the “New Wave Motown*” of “Lexicon Of Love.” No, this was more like Broadway Disco. More of a late 70s vibe with no production value spared.
When “Viva Love” appeared in a much earlier Brothers In Rhythm recording in 2004’s “The Ultimate ABC Collection,” a 3xCD compilation by Universal NL, it was just a loose track from the “Abracadabra” sessions which made it to the public. A good song, but not the show stopper that it became here! The buildup intro quickly gave way to Philly Soul nirvana, with Fry’s full-bodies lead vocal ascending into the falsetto zone as he does so well. The classical acoustic guitar filigree on the outro is the last thing one would reasonably expect and was a thing of wonder.
The delicate instrumentation of the ballad “Ten Below Zero” was a bittersweet moment to come down from the torrid highs of “Viva Love.” Then “Confessions Of A Fool” chugged along, swept up by a wall of strings that rode the big drum beats courtesy of Richard Brook. The self-deprecation of the lyric was classic Fry and I especially loved the “fool, fool fool fool” refrain. One more repetition than with the equally delight “No More Blue Horizons [Fool Fool Fool]” by China Crisis. Never has self-flagellation sounded so beautiful.
Pregnant strings heralded the brilliant metasong of “Singer Not The Song.” The tempo picked up at a snappy pace in the verse and when the first chorus kicked in, it was like hearing a flower blossom. Fry with Ms. Dudley and the producer Gary [Go West] Stevenson managed to toe a fine line through packing melodic and rhythmic detail into this song without it ever becoming unbalanced or overweening. The amount of detail to listen to here was almost ridiculous.
The string syncopation that cut through “The Ship Of The Seasick Sailor” was so melodically rewarding, which was completely the hallmark of this supafine album. “I Believe In Love” began as an intimate piano ballad only to hit its full stride in glorious mid-period Roxy Music regalia before reverting to quietude for the song’s chillout coda.
The next two songs were co-writes with Ms. Dudley. “The Love Inside The Love” began as an intimate, drawing room sort of crystalline ballad that unfurled across the horizon to full John Barry widescreen proportions. The tremolo guitar was a dead giveaway there. Again, the sound of this album could be grandiose, yet it kept to the demure side of overstatement. Surely a one-of-a-kind balancing act?
Fry by my reckoning, has delivered three classic albums in the last 21 years. No matter who his writing partners were, the end results were consistently top drawer. This album heven had him writing numbers with members of Living In A Box and a Lady Gaga writer, not to mention Anne Dudley herself, and all of the results gelled here thanks to the sensitive production and arrangements. We know for a fact that some of these songs [“Viva Love” at the very least] go back over a quarter century and have been sitting in Fry’s notebook waiting for the right time to re-emerge. A sequel to “The Lexicon Of Love” would have seemed a hopeless task and a fool’s errand at the onset but Fry’s resolve not to waste anybody’s time has borne considerable fruit here. The money spent to make this album happen is there in the end product for any and all to hear. Well done, ladies and gentlemen. Now if we can only get the next ABC album in less than 8-10 years I’ll be a happy man.
CONCLUSION: enjoy… a lot!