100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #24 ABC – Poison Arrow

Released : 1982

Not every band from Sheffield – a heavily industrialised city in the neglected northern end of England – wanted to play synths and sound like they came from Berlin. Martin Fry had formed ABC with the intent of playing soul and funk but making it snap to the decade’s new feel; their debut single Tears Are Not Enough was sophisti-pop without equal, but given that they were far from the only band practicing the gospel according to Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, something different was required for their debut long player.

Trevor Horn has variously been depicted as a visionary or a vandal (ask Frankie Goes To Hollywood) but no producer of the time had the zeitgeist on a string more; together with his accomplice Mr.Fairlight and Anne Dudley’s luxuriant strings, he turned The Lexicon of Love into a peerless big top of betrayal and sacrificed virtue.

As much if not more credit goes however to Martin Fry, he of the luxuriant voice and cerebral lyrics that drew listeners in to his coffee shop web of intrigue. Such is The Lexicon of Love‘s supreme quality it’s arguable Poison Arrow isn’t even it’s best track, but what is true is that it’s the finest example of Fry’s bold vision in motion, courtesy of a peeling falsetto, airy sax, disco-bass and the wantonness of Cupid’s indiscriminate aim. For a moment, Darnall sounded like 60’s Detroit.