Abracadabra (ABC album)

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Abracadabra
Studio album by ABC
Released 12 August 1991
Recorded 1990–1991
Genre Dance-pop
Label EMI, MCA
Producer Martin Fry, Mark White
ABC chronology
Absolutely
(1990)
Abracadabra
(1991)
Skyscraping
(1997)
Singles from Abracadabra
  1. "Love Conquers All"
    Released: 15 July 1991
  2. "Say It"
    Released: 30 December 1991

Abracadabra is the sixth studio album by the British band ABC, released in August 1991 on EMI. It was the final ABC album to feature founding member Mark White, who departed the band in 1992.

ABC moved to the EMI label, where they recorded the LP Abracadabra, a tightly produced fusion of early 1990s techno sounds and 1970s dance grooves which was met with muted critical approval and appreciation from the band's fan base.

The first single, "Love Conquers All", peaked at No. 47 on the UK Singles Chart and remixes of "Say It" (done by Black Box) were well received on the US dance charts.

Background[edit]

In a 1997 interview, Fry summed up the making of the album, saying, "Went round in circles making this. Started in the US in Detroit Chicago and New York. Scrapped a lot of music to get to the finished record. Finished it at the Townhouse Shepherd's Bush. A low."[1]

In a 2006 interview, Fry spoke of the album, relating to the duo returning to dance beats and the club scene since the Up album. Fry said, "Well, actually, Abracadabra...we got a massive deal with EMI, but, by then, the group had really burned out, but we were making Abracadabra. Some of the record worked. "Love Conquers All," and "Spellbound," with Phil Manzanera (from Roxy Music), worked. There's some moments on it. What can I say? I'm very critical, very critical."[2]

In a 2009 interview, Martin Fry summed up each ABC album, and said of Abracadabra that it was "A hybrid of different genres, it's idealistic really. You can hear the civil war internally as our lucrative opportunity to make the album of our career slithered through our hands. We perfected the music and atmosphere that became the record, yet the process was indirectly intense."[3]

In 2004, VH1 attempted to reunite the original four members of ABC as part of their Bands Reunited television program. During the episode, Fry was interviewed by the host, Aamer Haleem, who noted, "In '92, Mark decided that he had said all he needed to say with ABC." Fry replied by mentioning the album, saying "You know Mark White, he's a very talented guy, you know he's a very inventive guy. We'd spent like 10 years solid making records. We signed this big record deal with EMI in Europe and the level of expectation was so high. You felt it every day. And we made a record, and midway through it Mark just says 'I can't do it any more, I've had enough'. And I said to him 'you should persist, you know, let's finish the record'. And at that point he just said 'look I quit, I've had enough, I don't want to do it any more'."[4]

UK track listing (1991 EMI/Parlophone CDP 7 96821 2)[edit]

All songs written and composed by ABC.

No. Title Length
1. "Love Conquers All"   5:03
2. "Unlock the Secrets of Your Heart"   4:53
3. "Answered Prayer"   6:05
4. "Spellbound"   4:15
5. "Say It"   4:21
6. "Welcome to the Real World"   4:02
7. "Satori"   2:58
8. "All That Matters"   4:29
9. "This Must Be Magic"   4:20
International track listing (1991 MCA MCAD-10184)
No. Title Length
10. "What's Good About Goodbye"   4:47
11. "Say It (Black Box Mix)"   4:36
Download only bonus track lListing (2005 EMI)
No. Title Length
10. "What's Good About Goodbye"   4:51
11. "Love Conquers All (Extended Version)"   6:17
12. "Say It (The Black Box Mix)"   6:20
13. "Unlock The Secrets of Your Heart (M People Mix)"   5:00
14. "Love Conquers All (Boilerhouse Mix)"   4:51
15. "Love Conquers All (The Morales Eclipse Mix)"   5:45
16. "Viva Love (Brother in Rhythm Edit)"   4:14
17. "Snakebite"   4:52
18. "Kiss Me Goodbye"   5:20

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[5]
Billboard favourable[6]
The Michigan Daily (USA) unfavorable[7]
St. Petersburg Times (USA) favourable[8]
The Rough Guide to Rock (Book) unfavorable[9]
The Rough Guide to Cult Pop (book) unfavorable[10]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic wrote, "Abracadabra is a disheartening latter-day album from ABC, who are attempting to stay modern by incorporating both house and smooth Philly soul flourishes to their sound. Occasionally, the results sound supple and alluring, but the record is undone by a complete lack of strong, melodic songs, as well as what sounds like Martin Fry's indifference to the material."[11]

In the official American Billboard magazine of 12 October 1991, a positive review of Abracadabra was included under the 'Dance' album section. The reviewer wrote, "Quirky UK pop duo focuses on creating state-of-the-charts dance grooves on this lushly produced label debut. Martin Fry's reliably theatrical vocals turn melodramatic tunes like recent European club hit "Love Conquers All" and "Answered Prayer" into believable anthems. Club DJs will heartily devour this delicious set, starting with the festive first single, "Say It" (which sports remixes by Black Box), though top 40 radio programmers would be wise to take note, too."[6]

In his review of the album for the 8 November 1991 issue of the St. Petersburg Times, Richard Riccio wrote, "Starting in 1981 with The Look of Love and ending up a decade later with Love Conquers All, ABC has matured as musicians and songwriters, its focus shifting from the style of love to its true meaning. Abracadabra finally brings the band full circle, a ride around a six-album arc that has never once been unpleasant and demonstrates why this band is one of the most durable members of the second British invasion."[8]

The Michigan Daily on 6 December 1991, had a review of the album by the author Tom Nixon, who wrote, "ABC; yet another example of a band that has been in the business too long to consistently provide its fans with fresh and innovative ideas. The group's latest release, "Abracadabra", differs little from its last (Absolutely), and will probably enjoy about the same amount of success, of lack thereof. Most of the album's tunes are cast from the same mould as many of the disco hits of the late 1970s, but add the technology of the 1990s to give the songs a modern feel. The rhythms are slightly danceable, yet simple. The lyrics are of little meaning, and there is always the annoyance of the omnipresent string line that holds out one chord throughout most of the tune and adds simple descending of ascending tener to ask, "Didn't I just hear this song?" Every song probably uses the same drum machine, altering the rhythm ever-so-slightly from one song to the next, and nearly every song contains the exact same keyboard arrangement. Not only is the album not original as a whole, but each of the album's songs has little individuality in relation to others on the record. This is not to say that "Abracadabra" is a bad album: there is nothing bad about it. The musicianship of the band's two members, Martin Fry and Mark White, is sound, and the overall production of the record is crisp. However, there is nothing great on this album – little that would make you say, "I really feel like listening to that new ABC album right now." The album is not without its bright spots, however. The Black Box remix of "Say It" turns a so-so disco tune into an energetic, '90s-style dance tune. "What's Good About Goodbye," probably the album's most exciting tune and certainly its most interesting, deviates from the disco form somewhat. The rhythm is much more complex and the instrumentation varies greatly from the rest of the album. The band even experiments with a brass section and real bass guitar on this tune, which is reminiscent of earlier ABC recordings. ABC fans may be disappointed with the band's latest effort. But the release of the album, if nothing else, is at least a reminder to fans that they can still pull out their dusty old copies of the band's first album, "Lexicon of Love", and enjoy the ABC's best work – music that remains fresh even today, nearly a decade after its release."[7]

In his 2003 book The Rough Guide to Rock, Peter Buckley wrote, "Fry and White's enthusiasm for the burgeoning house trend led to the spirited but ultimately forgettable "Up" (1989), while Abracadabra (1991) seemed a half-hearted attempt to reheat the tried and tested formula created and perfected a decade earlier."[9]

In the 2003 book The Rough Guide to Cult Pop, author Paul Simpson spoke of the album under the "You've been warned" section for ABC. He wrote, "1991's Abracadabra probably won't reach out and grab ya."[10]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1991) Peak
position
Austrian Albums Chart[12] 39
German Albums Chart[13] 22
UK Albums Chart[14] 50

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "80s Server – Lexicon of ABC Martin Fry". Abcmartinfry.de. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Harris, Will (26 September 2006). "ABC interview, Martin Fry interview". Bullz-eye.com. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "99xs – Lexicon of ABC Martin Fry". Abcmartinfry.de. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  4. ^ ABC Martin Fry Bands Reunited Full - YouTube
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "ABC: Abracadabra" at AllMusic. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  6. ^ a b Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (12 October 1991). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  7. ^ a b http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=df1JAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Nh4NAAAAIBAJ&pg=2943,4245393&dq=abc+abracadabra&hl=en
  8. ^ a b "ROMANCE WITH A DANCE BEAT Series%3A AUDIO FILES". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 8 November 1991. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. 
  10. ^ a b Simpson, Paul (2003). The Rough Guide to Cult Pop. Rough Guides. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-84353-229-3. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Abracadabra – ABC : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "ABC – Abracadabra". austriancharts.at. Archived from the original on 12 November 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "ABC – Abracadabra". Chart Stats. 24 August 1991. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.