Listen to this track by Sheffieldian dance-pop purveyors ABC. It’s “Poison Arrow” their international 1982 hit from their smash debut The Lexicon of Love, a pop concept album about losing, and pining for lost love. That sounds kind of grim, doesn’t it? Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a record that sounds as buoyant, and as musically effervescent as this one. This song was one of a number of hit singles from this era-defining record; “The Look of Love”, “All of My Heart” were two others, with “Tears Are Not Enough.” being a hit in the UK.
This is an ambitious tune, as was the making of the album in an era when pop smarts and a touch of indulgence without crossing the line where production sheen was concerned was a hard balance to strike. Yet, ABC were able to do so with seeming ease, particularly with this song where (extremely) funky bass, drum machines, synths, and sparkling horns meet with singer and lyricist Martin Fry’s appealingly dramatic vocals.
Despite being an embodiment of a sort of post-disco New Romantic outfit very much of its time in many ways, ABC managed to create a sound that distinguished them well beyond their initial foray into the pop charts of the early ’80s, and continues to do so even now.
But, where does this sound actually come from? Read more