Top 5 ’80s Songs From British Group ABC


Though active throughout the ’80s as a musical entity, Britain’s ABC presented most of its lasting work on its wonderful 1982 debut, The Lexicon of Love. A brilliant combination of elegant synth-pop, R&B and funk allowed the band to distinguish itself from more morose contemporaries; and the precise songwriting and arrangements of leader Martin Fry were responsible for some memorable ’80s music moments.

Here’s a chronological look at ABC’s finest song offerings, appearing largely during the first half of the decade, even if the inferior 1987 single “When Smokey Sings” ultimately stands as the group’s biggest American hit.

“Poison Arrow”

Paul Natkin/Archive Photos/Getty Images

What is it that feels so different about ABC when compared with the other synth-pop and new wave groups playing keyboard-driven pop during the early ’80s? There are a lot of totally viable answers to this question, but unquestionably the best place to start is with frontman and clear leader Martin Fry. Aside from his slick trademark gold suit (that probably no one else could pull off), Fry transmits a tremendous amount of sophistication and flamboyance in his vocal performance here, somehow avoiding descriptors such as vampy or campy. The vital, supporting role played by the musical arrangement makes this Top 30 pop hit special, as weaving lines of saxophone, keyboards, and snappy bass guitar combine to deliver near pop perfection.

“All of My Heart”

Neutron Records

ABC may be the only band capable of presenting such a clarified thread of music perfectly suited for a grand romance and yet still restrained, even dignified. This strong album track, one of several from its exquisite debut, may be lush and breezy but somehow avoids coming off saccharine or cheesy. Fry and his collaborators continue to display a solid grasp of compositional skill, providing dense musical backdrops for delicate melodies. The effect tends to be that ABC’s music often increases its appeal as listener familiarity grows. Intricacy aside, ABC commands attention with a straightforward, unified attack: “Well, I hope and I pray that maybe someday you’ll walk in the room with my heart,” showcasing a great marriage of lyric and melody.

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