Where are the diamonds?
Where are the pearls?
Where are the things that you took from this world?
These are the ribbons
These are the curls
These are the things that you took from this world
One of my happy memories is from the summer of 1983. I remember spending a few days sunbathing in the backyard of my parents’ home in Oklahoma City, enveloped in the embrace of three loves. I was 16 going on 17 and in love with a girl I had dated for the past year. I was immersed in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise. And I was listening to what remains my favorite album of all time, The Lexicon of Love by ABC. This post was prompted by the surprise of that album being performed live at the Royal Albert Hall in London a few days ago.
Right on the target
But wide of the mark
What I thought was fire
Was only the spark
Critically acclaimed upon its release in 1982, The Lexicon of Love by singer Martin Fry, guitarist Mark White, saxophonist Stephen Singleton, and drummer David Palmer was chock-full of witty lyrics and rhyming couplets, had great theatrical musicality, showed attention to detail, and featured magnificent string arrangements by Anne Dudley. She would later help form the avant-garde group The Art of Noise with the album’s producer, Trevor Horn.
Many Happy Returns
When she’s gone, all I’ve got to learn
Is the law of diminishing return
When she’s here, one thing I’ve found
Things get better second time around
People my age may remember seeing some of the well-made videos for the album’s best songs: Poison Arrow, The Look of Love, and All of My Heart. Like the songs, the videos were stylish and romantic with a touch of class and theatricality. The entire album held together, without a clinker in the bunch.
Tears Are Not Enough
Yes you’ve shown your feelings
Yes you’ve shown you’re tough
Said things worth believing
Tears are not enough
I was delighted to discover that this week Martin Fry and David Palmer performed the album live with Anne Dudley conducting the BBC Orchestra. BBC Radio 2 broadcast the performance on April 11 and I was able to record the audio stream. You can listen to it via the internet, but I should note that the BBC player kept crashing my Firefox browser, so you may need to play it in a different browser.
If you gave me a pound for the moments I missed
And I got dancing lessons for all the lips I should’ve kissed
I’d be a millionaire
I’d be a Fred Astaire
The new live performance was surprisingly true to the original recorded album, only shifting one song to give the performance a more romantic send-off. The audience of 4,000 fans was enthusiastic, audibly singing along in parts and having fun clapping along to augment the instrumental coda. The orchestra did a great job bringing back the sound and feel of the original, with some of the original recording used when needed for effect, such as in the challenging 4 Ever 2 Gether.
4 Ever 2 Gether
A mathematical equation
Won’t describe my liaison
The stars in the sky might try persuading
But you can tell me, I won’t hear you
You can’t tell me, I gave up on listening
Martin Fry was in good voice, with skilled female backup singers augmenting his falsetto parts. The instrumentation was lush but not overbearing, and accurately recreated most of the sonics of the original songs.
The Look of Love
If you judge a book by the cover,
Then you’d judge the look by the lover
I hope you’ll soon recover,
Me I go from one extreme to another
I enjoyed the performance enough to know I will want to hear it again. I did not want to break up the hour-long show into individual tracks, but I also wanted to be able to quickly step through it to a song of my choosing. Having recorded the audio stream with my sound card’s software, I saved it in MP3 format and imported that into iTunes. Then I had iTunes convert it to AAC format and did some internet research to find out how to change it into an enhanced podcast using Slideshow Assembler and some helpful instructions. That allowed me to insert chapter breaks between each song, assigning a different graphic to each part for playback on my iPod or iPhone.
I get sales talk from sales assistants
When all I want to do girl, is lower your resistance
Everything is temporary, written in the sand
Looking for the girl that meets supply with demand
It has been over 25 years, but this summer you can probably find me reclining in my backyard, reading a great book on my Kindle 2 and listening to that new live performance of The Lexicon of Love on my iPod. As Meatloaf would say, two out of three ain’t bad.
All of My Heart
Once upon a time when we were friends
I gave you my heart, the story ends
No happy ever after, now we’re friends