Martin Fry of ABC: Records that changed my life
For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music
Seeing Roxy Music perform on Top of the Pops was like a sort of road to Damascus for me. It was the start of it all. I was sitting in a suburb of Manchester, thinking what I’d do. And I’m just a teenager, probably around 11. When you’re that age you just kind of wonder what the road ahead is going to look like. Roxy Music just looked like they were from outer space and the sound they had was totally futuristic compared to all the other bands—they were ahead of the game.
They inspired me to question the world and make it as interesting as you possibly can because when you live in a dull suburb, everything seems black and white and they were like full-blown colour. The world made sense when I saw them. They made me realise that I didn’t want to hang around and walk the same streets—I wanted to travel the world. And all of the experiences I had over the years with my band, ABC, stem from that initial desire. It was a chemical reaction.
There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly and the Family Stone
It came out in the early Seventies and I still listen to this record all these years on and find new things in it. Sly Stone is a brilliant artist. He was very popular with hits like “Dance to the Music,” but There’s a Riot Goin’ On is much more experimental and kind of completely out there. I think when there’s no experiment in music, it kind of dies. Sly Stone was a top original innovator.
I first heard them in a club. I remember going to a youth club and lying about my age because it was over-14. When they played “A Family Affair”, the whole dance floor stopped and everybody just started singing along to the lyrics. It was the first time I’d seen that happen, that whole communal spirit of a disco. It united everybody—all the skinheads and suedeheads and glam rockers. It was all-inclusive, multiracial and I thought that was fantastic. I like music that unites people.
The Lexicon of Love by ABC
That was our first album that we released in the early Eighties and it was our calling card as a band and as songwriters. I formed ABC in Sheffield and we started writing our own songs, trying to make people dance and make people think. After punk, we wanted to make stuff that was more romantic, like "The Look of Love" and "Poison Arrow" and there was a whole generation out there that was interested in that. We also wanted to make a record that sounded very luxurious which was different to the climate at the time. It was a very ambitious album and I think that’s a part of its appeal.
Sheffield was a tough old city to live in so people sort of put their heart and soul into music—it was the only outlet really. When I look back, it was a very inspiring place to be as a 19-year-old guy, just walking around. It was a great place to be a bohemian.
Martin Fry and ABC are headlining the Back to the 80s Cruise in May 2018