They had the look you know, and here you can’t see it. If the legacy of the live album is normally one of shattered illusions and regretful cash-ins anyway, when your existence hinges around the flick of a wedge haircut and the cut of your gold lami, it’s even trickier.
Recorded in London in 1997, what saves [a]ABC[/a] from the usual ignominious fate is [I]Martin Fry[/I]’s songwriting. Specifically the songs teleported in from a time when pop could be ironic, patently ridiculous, but still ooze soul from every pore.
‘Poison Arrow‘ and ‘The Look Of Love‘ are lustrous, and still sound like two of the best pop songs ever written. Probably because, despite a few ‘crowd’ songs, they’ve coated this in a sheen of high production. So it doesn’t sound particularly live, but then ABC were always more about glamour than sweat and work rate.
It’s not all pop perfection, though. Throughout there’s a tendency to overly jazz things up, which hits its nadir on ‘One Better World‘, and the totally forgettable bits from ’97’s ‘Skyscraping‘ album, making this far from essential.
But that’s besides the point. Because in an ever-greyer indie world, it’s reassuring to know a showman like Fry can still earn a crust. Even if it is from an bypassed backwater of the nostalgia circuit.