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.
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."
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."
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."
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'."
All songs written and composed by Martin Fry and Mark White.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described Abracadabra as a "disheartening latter-day album from ABC". He felt that ABC had tried to sound modern by "incorporating both house and smooth Philly soul flourishes to their sound". Although he felt that sometimes the results were supple and alluring", he felt the album lacked "strong, melodic songs".
In the official American Billboard magazine of 12 October 1991, a positive review of Abracadabra was included under the 'Dance' album section. The reviewer described the "lushly produced" album as focusing on "state-of-the-charts dance grooves". They praised Fry's "reliably theatrical vocals" and felt that "Club DJs will heartily devour this delicious set."
In his review of the album for the 8 November 1991 issue of the St. Petersburg Times, Richard Riccio felt that since 1981, ABC had "matured as musicians and songwriters". He felt that 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."
The Michigan Daily on 6 December 1991, had a review of the album by the author Tom Nixon, who believed most of the album was musically similar to "many of the disco hits of the late 1970s". Although he felt that most of the album's songs had "little individuality", and probably used the "same drum machine" and "keyboard arrangement", he noted the "simple, slightly danceable" rhythms. He praised the "crisp" production and highlighted the Black Box remix of "Say It" - which "turns a so-so disco tune into an energetic, '90s-style dance tune." He felt that "What's Good About Goodbye" was the album's "most exciting tune and certainly its most interesting". He concluded: "ABC fans may be disappointed with the band's latest effort".
In his 2003 book The Rough Guide to Rock, Peter Buckley felt that the album was a "half-hearted attempt to reheat the tried and tested formula created and perfected a decade earlier". 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 stated: "Abracadabra probably won't reach out and grab ya".Martin Fry - vocals
Mark White - guitars, keyboards, programming