ABC - The Lexicon of Love

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ABC - The Lexicon of Love
Studio album by
Released 21 June 1982
Recorded 1981–1982
  • New wave
  • synth-pop
  • sophisti-pop
Length 37:25
Label Neutron
  • Trevor Horn
  • Steve Brown
ABC chronology
  The Lexicon of Love
Beauty Stab
Singles from The Lexicon of Love
  1. "Tears Are Not Enough"
    Released: 16 October 1981
  2. "Poison Arrow"
    Released: 5 February 1982
  3. "The Loove of Love"
    Released: 7 May 1982
  4. "All of My Heart"
    Released: 27 August 1982
  5. "Valentine's Day"
    Released: 1982 (Japan only)


  "The Lexicon of Love" is the debut studio album by English pop band ABC. It was released in June 1982 by Neutron Records in the United Kingdom, by Mercury records in the United States and Japan, and by Vertigo records in Canada and Europe. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number one and has been certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It features four UK top-20 singles, including "Tears Are Not Enough", "Poison Arrow", "The Look of Love" and "All of My Heart".

Though not a concept album, the album features repeated themes in which the singer experiences heartache as he tries and fails to have a meaningful relationship. A longform music video/film, Mantrap, featuring songs from the album was released in 1983.




"The Lexicon of Love" was ABC's debut album. The band had formed a few years earlier as Vice Versa and released their first single as ABC "Tears Are Not Enough" in 1981.

The songs on the album were written collectively by the band, with arranger Anne Dudley was given songwriting credits on some tracks. Martin Fry said that the band's ambition was to fuse punk and disco, music that was more sophisticated but still had some attitude. Lyrically, the songs are all about the matters of the heart. "Most of the other people were writing about electric pylons. We wanted to hark back to Cole Porter and his ilk, but in a very modern way", Fry said. The title The Lexicon of Love originated from a headline of a live review of ABC in NME.


Recording and release dates

The majority of the album was recorded at Sarm East Studios in London, as well as at Abbey Road Studios, Townhouse Studios, RAK Studios and Good Earth Studios. The production includes both orchestral arrangements and the use of the then latest technology.

The album was produced by Trevor Horn, engineered by Gary Langan and features orchestrations by Anne Dudley and Fairlight CMI programming by J.J. Jeczalik; Horn, Langan, Dudley and Jeczalik would later form the Art of Noise a year after the release of this album. Indeed, most of the production team and session players on the album would form the basis for the ZTT label, and their work with Horn meant all concerned would be in constant demand throughout the industry in years to come. The cover photo is by Gered Mankowitz.

"Tears Are Not Enough" (in its initial release produced by Steve Brown), "All of My Heart", "Poison Arrow" and "The Look of Love (Part One)" were all top-20 entries in the UK; the latter two also charted in the US, peaking at No. 25 and No. 18, respectively. The album reached No. 1 on the UK charts and peaked at No. 24 in the US charts.

The album was followed by a tour with the band extended to a 11-piece on stage, reaching Europe, USA and Japan. The shows at Hammersmith odeon in November 1982 were recorded for inclusion in ABC's forthcoming film Mantrap.

In 2004, a two-disc deluxe reissue including previously unreleased outtakes and early demos and a live performance of the album from 1982 was released by Neutron Records.

In 2009, ABC performed the entire album at the Royal Albert Hall in London, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra and conducted by arranger and composer Anne Dudley. They were joined onstage by the album's producer Trevor Horn.

The Lexicon of Love was again performed live in its entirety on 18 December 2012 at Theatre Royal Drury Lane This marked the 30th anniversary of the album's release and once again featured Dudley as conductor, performing with the Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra. The same line-up (with Dudley and Southbank Sinfonia) concluded a four-date mini-tour at this same venue on 30 March 2014 performing the album in its entirety. Martin Fry and band were once more accompanied by the Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra for dates at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sheffield Hall, the Theatre Royal, Durry Lane in London and Symphony Hall, between November 4th and 9th, 2015.

A sequel album "The Lexicon of Love II" was released on 27 May 2016.


Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
Blender 4/5 stars
Christgau's record Guide A−
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars
Mojo 4/5 stars
Q 5/5 stars
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars
Select 4/5
Spin Alternative Record Guide 9/10

The album was a critical and commercial success. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1 and remained on the charts for 50 weeks. It was the fourth biggest selling album in the UK in 1982.

In a review of the 2004 Deluxe Edition BBC stated that "The Lexicon of Love stands as a landmark album in British pop". Rob Webb wrote: "It underpins just what a sharp band ABC were: witty, lyrical and very, very funky (...) Each track is a love affair in miniature: some are touching ("All of My Heart", "Show Me"), others a bitter invective at misplaced passion ("Many Happy Returns"). There is more going on in "2 Gether 4 Ever" than many bands squeeze into an entire album (...) Dance music had rarely been so literate."

AllMusic wrote: "The production style was dense and noisy, but frequently beautiful, and the group's emotional songs gave it a depth and coherence later Horn works (...) would lack." "Fry and company used the sound to create moving dancefloor epics like "Many Happy Returns," which, like most of the album's tracks, deserved to be a hit single."

  • NME listed it number 15 on its list of 50 albums of the 80s.
  • NME listed it number 3 on its list of 50 albums of the year 1982.
  • Uncut listed It number 52 on its list of 100 greatest debut albums.
  • Mojo listed it in its list of 9 albums of the year 1982.
  • The Village Voice listed it number 19 on its list of 20 albums of the year 1982.
  • Q magazine listed it number 40 on its list of the 100 greatest British albums ever.
  • Q magazine readers voted The Lexicon of Love the 92nd greatest album of all time.
  • The Observer Music Monthly listed it number 42 on its list "Top 100 British Albums".
  • Mentioned in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.


Track listing

All tracks are written by Martin Fry, Mark White, Stephen Singleton and David Palmer, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Show Me"   4:02
2. "Poison Arrow"
  • Martin Fry
  • Mark White
  • Stephen Singleton
  • David Palmer
  • Mark Lickley
3. "Many Happy Returns"   3:56
4. "Tears Are Not Enough"
  • Fry
  • White
  • Singleton
  • Lickley
  • David Robinson
5. "Valentine's Day"   3:42
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "The Look of Love" (Part One)
  • Fry
  • White
  • Singleton
  • Palmer
  • Lickley
7. "Date Stamp"   3:51
8. "All of My Heart"   5:12
9. "4 Ever 2 Gether"
  • Fry
  • White
  • Singleton
  • Palmer
  • Anne Dudley
10. "The Look of Love" (Part Four)
  • Fry
  • White
  • Singleton
  • Palmer
  • Lickley
Total length: 37:25



  • Martin Fry – lead and backing vocals
  • Mark White – guitars; keyboards; backing vocals on "The Look of Love" (Part One)"
  • Stephen Singleton – alto and tenor saxophone
  • David Palmer – drums; Linn LM-1 programming; percussion
  • Mark Lickley – bass guitar on "Poison Arrow", "Tears Are Not Enough", and "The Look of Love"
  • David Robinson – drums on single/demo versions of "Tears Are Not Enough"

Additional personnel

  • Anne Dudley – keyboards; orchestration
  • Brad Lang – bass guitar
  • J.J. Jeczalik – Fairlight CMI programming
  • Andy Gray – trombone on "Tears Are Not Enough"
  • Luis Jardim (misspelled as "Louis Jardin" on album notes) – additional percussion
  • Tesa Webb – female lead vocal on "Date Stamp"
  • Gaynor Sadler – harp
  • Karen Clayton – female speaking voice in "Poison Arrow"


  • Trevor Horn – producer
  • Gary Langan – engineer
  • Gered Mankowitz – film photography
  • Paul Cox – band photography
  • Pete Bill – cover photography
  • Visible Inc. – design
  • Neutron Records – design




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada) Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ) Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA) Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone




ABC - The Lexicon of Love

UK Neutron Records NTRS 1 stereo (1982) 1st press.

The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean, unmarked, and free from tears, stains or stickers.

The album cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.

the album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

The original colour, printed inner sleeve, is excellently presented.

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