ABC are an English New Wave band, that charted ten UK and five US Top 40 singles between 1981 and 1990. The band continues to tour and released a new album, Traffic in 2008.
ABC has its roots in the band Vice Versa. Vice Versa was formed in 1977 in Sheffield by Stephen Singleton, Mark White and David Sydenham, they founded their own label, Neutron Records, releasing the EP Music 4. They had similarities to The Human League, whom they supported in 1978. Martin Fry, who wrote the fanzine Modern Drugs, interviewed the band, and shortly afterwards, they asked him to join as synthesizer player, and Fry accepted, and shortly afterwards the band evolved into ABC, with Fry taking over on vocals.
The group's first single, "Tears Are Not Enough", made the UK Top 20 in 1981. Soon afterwards, David Robinson left the band and was replaced by drummer David Palmer. In 1982, the band released their debut album The Lexicon of Love, which reached number one in the UK Albums Chart.Produced by Trevor Horn, it often featured in UK critics' lists of favourite albums: it ranked 42nd in The Observer Music Monthly's "Top 100 British Albums" (June 2004) and 40th in Q magazine's "100 Greatest British Albums" (June 2000). The band had three Top 10 hits during 1982: the singles "Poison Arrow", "The Look of Love (Part One)" and "All of My Heart" and shot high-concept music videos.
ABC found it difficult to follow up their debut. The second album, Beauty Stab, was released in November 1983.It performed poorly in comparison to its predecessor. Gary Langan, who had engineered The Lexicon of Love, produced the effort. The first single, "That Was Then but This Is Now", briefly appeared in the UK Top 20, followed by a Top 40 showing for "S.O.S.". The band eschewed remixes for the project, and the 12" single for "That Was Then but This Is Now" featured the disclaimer "This record is exactly the same as the 7" version. The choice is yours." Stephen Singleton retired from the band in 1984.
Now a duo of Fry and White, augmented by two non-performing band members, Fiona Russell-Powell (known as Eden) and David Yarritu, ABC's chart fortunes in the UK dwindled further with the 1985 album How to Be a...Zillionaire!.Keith LeBlanc from Tackhead programmed much of the beatbox work for the album. The group did score its first US Top 10 hit with "Be Near Me" (which also made the UK Top 30). The album also featured the singles "(How to Be a) Millionaire", "Vanity Kills" and "Ocean Blue". ABC was one of the first bands to do video scratching" for several videos from the How to Be a... Zillionaire album, including the video for "Be Near Me".
Following a hiatus, during which Fry was treated for Hodgkin's disease, ABC returned with Alphabet City. Best known for "When Smokey Sings", a tribute to Smokey Robinson, the album also spawned "The Night You Murdered Love" and "King Without a Crown" as singles All three tracks would make the CD version of the group's first anthology.
In 1989, the duo issued Up, their fifth and final PolyGram studio album. This time experimenting with house music, ABC scored a minor UK hit with the single "One Better World". They then released another single, "The Real Thing". During this period the group worked on a couple of outside productions aimed at the house music scene. One was Paul Rutherford's (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) solo album and first single release; the other was for Lizzie Tear on the group's own Neutron label.
In 1990, the band released a greatest hits compilation album, Absolutely. This covered all of ABC's albums up until 1990, and featured all of their singles. The compilation made the UK Top 10. A video package featuring promos was also released. One new song, "The Look of Love '90", was released to promote the package.
The group then moved to the EMI label (and MCA in North America), where they recorded the 1991 LP Abracadabra. "Love Conquers All", the first single, barely placed in the UK chart, though Italian production team Black Box provided remixes of "Say It" which appeared in the US dance chart.