ABC★★★ “Lexicon Of Love” Ultrabox Coming With LPs, Blu-Ray…But No CDs?

ABC lexicon of love ultrabox
UMG | UK | 4 x LP + Blu-Ray | 2023

ABC★★★: The Lexicon Of Love [40th Anniversary Edition] – 4xLP + Blu-Ray – UK [2023]

LP1 – Side A: The Lexicon Of Love – Half-Speed 2023 mastered at Abbey Road by Miles Showell

  1. Show Me
  2. Poison Arrow
  3. Many Happy Returns
  4. Tears Are Not Enough
  5. Valentine’s Day

LP1 – Side B: The Lexicon Of Love – Half-Speed 2023 mastered at Abbey Road by Miles Showell

  1. The Look Of Love
  2. Date Stamp
  3. All Of My Heart
  4. 4 Ever 2 Gether
  5. The Look Of Love (Part Four)

LP 2 – Side A: The Route To Lexicon

  1. Overture
  2. Surrender (Phonogram Demo)
  3. Show Me (Phonogram Demo)
  4. Tears Are Not Enough (Phonogram Demo)

LP 2 – Side B: The Route To Lexicon

  1. Tears Are Not Enough* (Steve Brown 12”)
  2. Alphabet Soup* (Steve Brown 12”)
  3. Theme From ‘Man Trap’

LP3 – Side A: Lexicon Plus

  1. Tears Are Not Enough (original 7”)
  2. Poison Arrow (Jazz Mix)
  3. The Look Of Love (Special Remix)

LP 3 – Side B: The Lexicon Of Love Live At Hammersmith Odeon, November 1982

  1. Overture
  2. Show Me
  3. Many Happy Returns
  4. Tears Are Not Enough

LP 4 – Side A: The Lexicon Of Love Live At Hammersmith Odeon, November 1982

  1. Date Stamp
  2. The Look Of Love
  3. All Of My Heart

LP 4 – Side B: The Lexicon Of Love Live At Hammersmith Odeon, November 1982

  1. Valentine’s Day
  2. 4 Ever 2 Gether
  3. Poison Arrow

Blu-Ray Disc

  1. Steven Wilson Dolby Atmos mix of the album
  2. “Man Trap” restored from film elements at 4K resolution

Well, well, well. This title has been an open secret for over a year, but hardcore facts were thin on the ground for the longest time. Everyone and their pet ferret had opinions on the long-mooted ultrabox of ABC’s classic debut album. When Universal Spain’s official music store has a page on it, I guess the horse has left the barn. We only have to clean up after it now.

In 2004, UK Mercury released one of those nice 2 x CD DLX RM editions they were fond of back then, and we obtained our copy a few years later, lest we pay a premium. Buying one now from abroad will cost a solid two figures. There was always the notion that “they” would top that for the 40th anniversary of the beloved album. The answer is yes, and no.

They’ve topped it if you think that LPs are the thing, or can’t wait to hear what Steven Wilson’s take on one of the iconic productions of the 80s will amount to this time. But if you like the silver discs like me, you have been left behind. Which, considering that I’m trying to save for a big European trip next year, I’m actually thankful that Universal has seen fit to make a deluxe product for this release that is surplus to my needs. The Blu-Ray is not that strong a pull with me, though the exact details on the disc contents have not been fully listed yet. We know from the hype sticker on the pack shot above that it will be a Wilson Dolby Atmos® remix plus “Man Trap.”

Given that “Man Trap” was shot on 16mm film, there is the potential for a wonderful 4K restoration…as long as the gremlins in the video suite have not removed all of the film grain with Digital Noise Reduction. This is becoming more common of late for video releases, and is the visual equivalent of brickwalling. In both cases, information is being eliminated on someone’s call. Hint: not yours. Like tape hiss is endemic to music, I also consider the grain of film as part of the image’s original integrity.

Recently, the Beatles miniseries “Get Back” by Peter Jackson came under fire for using DNR to remove all of the 8mm/16mm grain from Beatles footage you may have seen at one point in your life. But not like this. With the grain scrubbed off, leaving a queerly artificial looking image as if someone went nuts with Photoshop [or Snapchat] filters on every frame of video. Or if The Beatles had plastic surgery via time machine. They’re still arguing over the aesthetic implications on The Steve Hoffman Music Forum. “Man Trap” could look marvelous, or it could look like a snapshot from the uncanny valley. We’ll just have to see.

But I won’t be seeing it in any case. I still have a laserdisc of “Man Trap” with every particle of 16 mm film grain intact. And there’s no way I have an interest in dropping €149.95 for a box of LPs I will never play, even for an admitted classic album like this one. Because that’s the price at UMG’s Spanish store currently hosting the product online. I’ll be happy with my LD and CDs. Especially if we examine the contents of the 2xCD from 2004 and see what’s been changed on the new release.

Mercury | UK | 2xCD | 2004 | 9824373

ABC★★★: The Lexicon Of Love DLX RM – UK – 2xCD [2004]

Disc 1

  1. Show Me
  2. Poison Arrow
  3. Many Happy Returns
  4. Tears Are Not Enough
  5. Valentine’s Day
  6. The Look Of Love (Part I)
  7. Date Stamp
  8. All Of My Heart
  9. 4 Ever 2 Gether
  10. The Look Of Love (Part IV)
  11. Overture
  12. Tears Are Not Enough (7″)
  13. Alphabet Soup (12″ Mix)
  14. Theme From ‘Man Trap’
  15. Poison Arrow (Jazz Mix)
  16. Into The Valley Of The Heathen Go (Lexicon Of Love Out-Take, 5/82)
  17. Alphabet Soup (Swapshop Version, 29/11/81)

Disc 2

  1. Tears Are Not Enough (Phonogram Demo, 20th July 1981)
  2. Show Me (Phonogram Demo, 20th July 1981)
  3. Surrender (Phonogram Demo, 20th July 1981)
  4. Overture [live 82]
  5. Show Me [live 82]
  6. Many Happy Returns [live 82]
  7. Tears Are Not Enough [live 82]
  8. Date Stamp [live 82]
  9. The Look Of Love [live 82]
  10. All Of My Heart [live 82]5
  11. Valentine’s Day [live 82]
  12. 4 Ever 2 Gether [live 82]
  13. Alphabet Soup [live 82]
  14. Poison Arrow (Encore) [live 82]

The LP box has two cuts missing from the 2 x CD. But not other ABC CDs that I also have. “Tears Are Not Enough [Steven Brown 12”]” is on ABC★★★ “Remix Collection” CD. And “The Look of Love [Special Remix]” is all over the place. I’m assuming that it’s the much-maligned “1990” mix done without ABC★★★ approval. But even if it’s the “Look Of Love [US Remix a.k.a. The Look of Love Part 5], we have both versions as well on the silver disc…and multiple vinyl formats in the Record Cell!

Where the story takes a tragic turn was in that one of the really fascinating features of the 2004 edition were the two unreleased tracks added to the mix: “Into The Valley Of The Heathen Go” and “Alphabet Soup (Swapshop Version, 29/11/81).” Sadly, these are not available on the upcoming LP box. Until we know the contents for certain on the Blu-Ray, it may be possible that these tracks and more are also included in 2.0 on the Blu-Ray…possibly even 5.1 if Steven Wilson still has a bowl full of uppers at his side. Further, the live version of “Alphabet Soup” from the Hammersmith show on CD has been edited from the LP box. So if you have the 2004 CD like me, you are only missing out on the surface noise that this new box will offer.

The weird thing is that the formats on offer in this box make it seem an awful lot like the SDLX version of the last ABC★★★ album, “The Lexicon Of Love II [The Box Inside The Box]” version. It was a boxed set with LPs of the new album [and 2008’s “Traffic”] and two DVDs of performances, but no CDs! At about the same price as this new one. If this is a coming trend then I am more than fine with ceasing all ultrabox purchases. I only have a handful of such products in any case, and I weigh my desires and needs very carefully before committing to another 40th anniversary edition of a crucial album. But the UMG Spain site has an August 4th, 2023 release date for the box, which may or may not be the case as these things go.

I have been trimming my purchasing down to austerity levels over the last couple of years. By my standards at least – $460/year for music would be considered excessive by many I suspect, but it represents an all-time low for me. Moreover, I am in the process of making a large cull list of my collection to help save up for the most expensive vacation we’re likely to ever take in under a year. Right now, a “Lexicon Of Love” 4x LP + Blu-Ray box is neither my circus nor my monkeys… in spite of my ardor for their music. Your mileage may vary. I can guarantee negative1ne’s will!


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, New Romantic, Want List and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to ABC★★★ “Lexicon Of Love” Ultrabox Coming With LPs, Blu-Ray…But No CDs?

  1. I am (was?) an absolute ABC completist. But the recent live album (LP and CD, the LP looks very nice, the 3 CD set seems sold out already, but there is still the 2 CD set) and this may be the end of the road for me. I just cannot justify spending over $250 for the live album in 3 formats and now another $200 for an LP boxset with no CDs. This whole thing makes me feel like screaming “get off my lawn!” lol

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Todd Lewis says:

    I’m happy with my 2004 deluxe double CD version of this great album. Love ABC!

    Also, I’m with you on the format. I prefer CDs to vinyl. Vinyl only releases make no sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SimonH says:

    Great, more money saved, don’t need this for, as you say, a bit of surface noise:) I wonder though, will SDE release a stand alone blu ray maybe? I would buy that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sort of behaviour is exactly what has made me come to hate vinyl.

    Having said that, if the future of the CD format is doomed (until the sheeple wake up and understand that only CDs give you uncompressed pure music and stage a comeback), then buying a Blu-ray Audio of key albums (now with plenty of room for extra tracks) would be okay with me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Hating vinyl. You said a mouthful. For the last 30 years it has been possibly my main focus, even as I almost NEVER play the stuff! I’m always trying to close out collections and get rare record-only material. Because of the rarity I’ve sort of focused my collecting on that but it is the tail that wags the dog now. Over the last decade I’ve found myself resenting vinyl records. A strange turn of events, but appropriate for where we are at in the dystopia of 2023. I am still incredulous that anyone would want it. It’s wasteful, saddled with enormous sonic negatives, poorly made in the current bubble environment, and incredibly expensive. I can see why the labels love it anew: the profit margins must be unlimited in the bubble, and it can’t be easily duplicated.


  5. Tim says:

    Massively disappointed here.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I’m actually pretty sanguine about it. It ultimately helps my budget right now, and it’s not as though the 2004 DLX RM is grunt removed from my Record Cell.


      • Tim says:

        It was the expectation, that there was more, curios etc. If you read Stephen Singletons review of the 2004 set on Amazon UK it sounds like there is more. Just so very disappointed, I really thought this deluxe version of one of my top 5 albums would actually be deluxified.


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