If I Were To Say To You, Can You Keep A Secret? We Speak To ABC’s Martin Fry About ‘The Lexicon Of Love Live In Sheffield’, And The Staying Power Of The Music Of ABC

Forty years to the day of the release of the iconic album, ‘The Lexicon Of Love’, ABC performed in concert, along with a symphony orchestra, in their hometown of Sheffield. That performance was recorded for posterity, and is set to be released on May 19 as ‘The Lexicon Of Love Live In Sheffield’. We’ve already written about the album here, but now we’d like to share with you our interview with the incredible Martin Fry himself.

Thanks for speaking to us Martin! ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ was a pivotal album from its first release, and it’s certainly lost none of its power today, it’s just as monumental – what do you think is the reason for this, what makes an iconic album?

The reason ‘The Lexicon of Love’ is remembered today, all these years later……… maybe Trevor Horn’s luscious production, maybe it came along at the right moment in time, it foretold the future. A lot of people, the world over, have had their hearts broken at some point in their lives. Lexicon documents heartache. So maybe it’s that.

‘Lexicon Of Love Live In Sheffield’ comes out on 19 May, and was recorded 40 years to the day of the album’s first release. How was the home-town reception, and how did you feel, coming back to perform it, basically where it all started?

Phenomenal. Very emotional. It completed the circle for me going back 40 years to the day the original music was released. The album had to be recorded on that night in that city. It was destiny.

Who’s been the most inspirational person in your career, and why?

George Best. I always wanted to play for Man United.

I asked for questions on social media, and Steve Holley asks,

“You did a brilliant version of ‘Thunderball’ on David Arnold’s ‘Shaken and Stirred, a James Bond Project’. That album turned out to be David’s successful audition as a prolific James Bond composer. Did you ever yearn to do a Bond theme, especially after dipping your toe into the genre with ‘Mantrap’?

Love Bond. Love movies. Love Netflix. David Arnold was brilliant to work with on ‘Thunderball’. Tom Jones was obviously a very tough act to follow on the original version of that song. I seem to remember John Barry came to the sessions at Air Studios to check it all out so I had to raise my game in the vocal booth.

What I always thought was really lovely on the original ‘Lexicon Of Love’ was the inclusion of the horns and strings, and with the new live release you’ve gone with a full symphonic orchestra, and that takes it to a whole new level. What do you think the response would have been if you’d gone there, used a full orchestra, on ‘Lexicon Of Love’ 40 years ago?

The time is right now to showcase the symphonic version of those songs.

Steve Holley returns with another question (he’s a HUGE fan!) and says,

“’Lexicon Of Love’ is widely regarded as an almost perfect 80s pop album, and is still wonderful. It was always going to be near impossible to follow, and ‘Beauty Stab’ went back to the band’s post punk roots, and ‘Vice Versa’. ABC would go on to always reinvent with each project following that with the awesome, ‘How To Be A Zillionaire’. Were you worried by some of the negativity that greeted ‘Beauty Stab’, or was “that was then but this is now” a career mantra?”

That Was Then was the ABC manifesto back then. Keep moving, keep changing, keep evolving. No regrets. Then and now. Sometimes we got it right, sometimes we got it wrong. That’s the beautiful thing about experimenting musically.

‘Lexicon Of Love Live In Sheffield’ contains songs from pretty much your entire discography – are these your favourites or are they the songs that work best in front of a live audience/are most popular? Are there any that you wish you could have added?

Yeah the Live album does contain a lot of songs from the ABC catalogue. Some songs work better than others with orchestra. Something like ‘Ocean Blue’ or ‘Viva Love’ were ideal for violins.

Finally, over your career you’ve very likely had the same questions asked over and over and over – but what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does? And what’s the answer to that question?

There’s plenty of questions I’ve never been asked. I’m happy with that.

‘The Lexicon Of Love Live In Sheffield’ will be released on 19 May, 2023, via Live Here Now Recordings. The new live album will be available as a 2 x CD set, 3 x sparkly purple vinyl, and as a collector’s edition, book and 3 CD.

Find out more about the release, as well as about ABC and their music, online on their official website.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com