Classic Rock Bottom

Who? ABC

When? 2008

Album title? Traffic

Did anyone like your other ABC posts? Kind of, maybe, no? review ? Yes.

Surprise, surprise, but that ABC magic is back again! In the first half of the '80s, Martin Fry enjoyed world-wide success with his band ABC on the back of two albums that were not just fascinating in themselves, but seemed to promise quite more to come. As part of the british New Romantic scene, their debut album, Lexicon of Love, perfectly fit in with the tastes of the time, what with the desire for an artificial blend of (white) soul music mixed with certain '50s conservative sensibilities, all served up with a lot of hollow posing, thank you. ABC were an instant success in that climate, but definitely had more to offer than the surface sheen of most of their contemporaries. Their music had richer layers of meaning, which, over time, started to make them seem like a long-lost treasure. The much more obviously "deep" second album, Beauty Stab, which included the feat of uniquely melding Black Sabbath-type riffs to sultry progressive soul (both typical of the early '70s) already "threw" many of their newfound fans. They weren't counting on such a change of style, or on that much intelligence coming from this band. Third album How to Be a...Zillionaire! (with its uneven attempt at reverting to the charms of the debut album) sadly caused even more people to lose interest, and what followed were decades of ABC albums with music actually conforming to the dictate of hollow dancefloor tastes, with spaces in between albums growing ever longer, all to no avail. Since no one expected it, hardly anyone noticed that in 2008, Martin Fry pretty much delivered the album that ABC fans were probably hoping for in 1985. His lyrical mastery was back in place, an elegant mix of soul and style fully revived in the songwriting and production departments, and there were even some of those fascinating rock amalgams from the second album back on board. Opener "Sixteen Seconds to Choose" is one such song, followed by the soulful elegance of "The Very First Time" and then "Ride," which strikes a perfect rock-soul balance. Thus the tone is set for the rest of the album, the first really satisfying ABC album since the mid-'80s by far. Absolutely astonishing how Fry has managed to shrug off all the years of uninspired "making do" recordings and tap right back into that well of inspiration. He acquired lasting admiration worldwide for this kind of quality all those years ago; now the world would do good to start paying attention again.


1. Sixteen Seconds to Choose
2. The Very First Time
3. Ride
4. Love Is Strong
5. Caroline
6. Life Shapes You
7. One Way Traffic
8. Way Back When
9. Validation
10. Lose Yourself
11. Fugitives
12. Minus Love

Availability: OOP, a used copy starts around $40.

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I bet Jon alphabetizes his collection and this band is first right after the band who's names start with a number (unless hes one of those people who sort those last which would be the incorrect way of doing that)

ABBA is first.


Oh yeah  that band .. 

Jon has mercilessly pummelled this band into our collective brains and like with anything else, repetition breeds familiarity...  Maybe that has something to do with this response...  Because it kinda worked for me...

I loved Ride, it had such a strong Cars vibe that I had to sit up and take note.  I wished the drum mix was as strong as a Cars record though, it would have lifted this up by a ton!  Still, I started to drift off around track 7 mostly because it sounded like something off of that Duran Duran record Boss posted (No offense).  Thankfully that came to a quick end because 'Way Back When' has that familiar sound that brought me back to that song, Look of Love.  I liked it!  Sue me....

Red track is a tie between 'Ride' and 'Way Back When'

Is it purchase material for me?  Not sure but it's definitely wishlist material and a required revisit! I've been awfully picky this year, but a lot of that has had to do with my discretionary time, or lack thereof...  That and not much has been interesting ...

Nice work sir!!

I went out looking for cheap CD's earlier today and found some stuff.  One of 'em was this compilation by ABC:

I really can't remember off the top of my head what I thought about other ABC posts you have made, but this album is terrific.  Just a nice, smooth listening experience, even though that first song was fairly heavy.

I really like all of the songs here, except maybe that closing track.  It drags a bit.  Caroline is really, really good, as is Ride.  Love the harmony vocals on that one.

I really enjoyed listening to this one.


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