Record Review: ABC – Look Good Tonite

ABC - look good tonight single art

The cover beats the song here

ABC: Look Good Tonite UK DL [2020]

  1. Look Good Tonite

It started out not unlike the opening to OMD’s “Pandora’s Pox” with dinky, post-rave “synths” and a similar chord sequence. Then the chord sequence was repeated with some orchestral bombast that felt a little more appropriate for the band in question. Were things going to look up after an inauspicious start? Not judging by the EDM bass line derailing this one from the very beginning. Then the lyric referenced Romeo/Juliet/Montagues/Capulets which is not the first time he’s used that device! [See: “Love Conquers All” from “Abracadabra.” The glockenspiel was a nice touch but it didn’t sit snugly within the arrangement and production which was still too far into the rave zone for my tastes.

Better was the drop where really bombastic string flourishes took center stage. Then the snare hits that followed ramped up in speed for an EDM climax that was absolutely predictable. As soon as I heard that snare I knew what was in store. The lyrics seemed to settle for celebrating the male gaze in a more direct way that the often grandiloquent pen of Martin Fry had ever dared to travel; making me think that this may have been a song he was writing for another to sing at one point or another. This certainly didn’t have the adroit ABC wordplay we’re used to; apart from the part cut and pasted from “Love Conquers All!” Would the Martin Fry we know and love ever have the point of a lyric be “damn, you look good tonight?”

Not being convinced by the EDM production still didn’t prepare me for the shock of the gratuitous dubstep middle eight…??!! In 2020?? That ship has sailed Martin, and your name was never on the prow! This track was ultimately a confused mess that, come to think of it, was not too far off the quality mark of the last ABC DL single that also failed to convince. Well, this was only $1.99 for a new ABC single; an always welcome concept no matter how the delivery turns out. Fry’s performance was the best thing here. Better luck next time. I’m happy to buy to help insure a next time happens. Actually, hearing this did remind me of a GREAT bit of Martin Fry EDM from the early ’naughts.

sonic hub - new man artSonic Hub was a Ricky Wilde EDM project that had Fry lead Vox on a track that interpolated Gary Numan’s “Cars” into the stew and it worked like a fiend. B-vox were by Angie Brown of Heaven 17 fame. I have played this track to hell and back over the last, uh, 17 years. Fry has never sounded more powerful than on this track! It’s full-bore rock belting over a tech-disco stomper that has the [licensed] “Cars” riff in it. Fry could rightfully could take his place next to Tom Jones after I heard this. Making his cover of “Thunderball” less than ironic and more like manifest destiny. This track showed that EDM and Martin Fry were capable of getting along like a house on fire.

So this one from ABC wasn’t to the standard that all I’ve found on the last three ABC albums since 1997. That’s been just three albums in 23 years, so if this new song is a harbinger of an ABC album in the oven, I hope that we get a more considered production of it further down the pike. That’s something that Fry has done before and I get the feeling that the more time he spends with a song, the better the outcome. Some bands [say, Simple Minds] benefit from working fast, but maybe that’s not the case with Mr. Fry. We all heard how much “Viva Love” improved from it’s 90s incarnation to the song on “The Lexicon of Love II”” so there’s the hope that “Look Good Tonite” could similarly benefit.

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21 Responses to Record Review: ABC – Look Good Tonite

  1. Tim says:

    I have been agreeably underwhelmed with this. I suspect that if one likes certain LoL2 tracks one will like this. Am awaiting reviews from others to see if that theory fits.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – This seemed rushed. And ill considered. The production was similarly awful on the xmas single but that one had three fantastic “unplugged” b-sides to make it worth our while. I realize that Fry’s spouse is a “Juliet” and he has a fine marriage, so I understand him going to that trope lyrically. But he didn’t have to rhyme it with “Capulet” each time. That just seemed lazy. Which LOL2 reacts did you have in mind?


      • Tim says:

        I’ve heard this track mentioned as something he was working on contemporary to LoL2… it may not be rushed per se but just…..uhhhhhh……not his A-game material.
        Recent interviews are saying he wrote 40 some tracks before winnowing it down to what we got.

        Re LoL2, it seems that the tracks I loved from it had overlap with some of the regulars here and then there were a couple that i felt weren’t up to measure that were embraced by your community here. Socially this one for me fits for me with those, One of my beefs with the inferior tracks was that they sounded like something you’d see over the credits of a not so good 80’s movie, this one fits that mold. Brighter Than the Sun and Singer Not the Song were two that I remember commentators here enjoying and me being like….what? I’m wondering what the folks who spoke highly of those tracks think of this one.

        As soon as I heard the Capulet couplet I knew you wouldn’t be fond of it based on your comments about Abracadbra. I am a fan of Love Conquers All and I don’t mind the lyric being used again as long as the song is great…..which this one is not. And the title….Look Good Tonight, all I can think of is Joey Tribbiani from Friends asking “How you doin’?”

        Liked by 1 person

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – It’s been a while since I heard LOL2. Time for a revisit. But he last two DL singles were definitely not his A-list material. That said, have you ever heard “New Man?”


          • Tim says:

            I have it, didn’t purchase when it came out, I think that was pre-internet for me and I didn’t know about it until years later. There’s a d/l single that I cherry picked a couple of tracks off of. It’s not bad, just not something that I rush to. It’s basically “Traffic” era, right? I think that is the least listened to ABC album that I have….even behind “Up.”


            • postpunkmonk says:

              Tim – Traffic was two years later. This was a guest vocal but what I thought was a hell of a performance. I like “Traffic” a lot. Not quite as great as “Skyscraping” but there was a surprising amount of new growth that I enjoyed.


  2. dhrichards says:

    New Man was good (hehe, so good I picked it up for release in USA on Ninthwave) – Live version of “Look Good Tonight” are all over youtube (circa 2017) so I suspect it is a LOL2 leftover. When I saw it was a “lockdown download” I thought, ok, something special for the fans- but a left over B- track for $1.99? I took a pass, which I can hardly believe.


  3. Echorich says:

    Like @dhrichards, I took a pass, knowing the track well from youtube. I was a bit affronted by the use of Romeo/Juliet, Montague/Capulet as I a huge fan of Abracadabra and it grates on me that it doesn’t get the appreciation I feel it deserves. Martin and Mark took their interest in House Music and created some sophisticated Pop with it on that album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I took a pass on it because of the re-(mis)spelling of the title! The original version was meh enough; my spidey sense told me that “Tonite” heralded some kind of dumbing-down of the thing, and indeed that seems to have been the case, judging from the Monk and company’s reviews. Dodged another bullet! Now if only Heaven 17 would use this time to finish their long (long!) promised new album …

    This message brought to you by Monk & Company — all your favourite music, judged fairly, even when it hurts.


  5. Pingback: 2020 – The Year In Buying Music [part 2] | Post-Punk Monk

  6. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk,
    thanks to electronic sound, this is now on gold 7 inch vinyl:
    order an issue with a copy. got mine ordered.



  7. Pingback: Record Review: ABC ★★★: “Sixty Seconds Later” B-Side Shines In Gold Vinyl | Post-Punk Monk

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