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Beauty in its own rights
on 22 September 2006
Beauty Stab is a fascinating album for pop music history buffs. The follow up to the slick mega seller, The Lexicon of Love, Beauty Stab was a raw energetic piece of work. It was also a commercial suicide, not even cracking the top 10 in the UK where ABC were huge; the second single from the album, the soothing S.O.S. barely made the top 40. ABC also insisted upon its release not providing any interviews, letting the album speak for itself. Once they finally allowed the press access to them (promoting said S.O.S.), the main discussion was the commercial (and what the English press mostly considered artistic) failure of Beauty Stab.
ABC went on regaining commercial success with sounds in the vein of The Lexicon of Love with an added soul and campy disco flavour. It is, however, interesting that Beauty Stab is now being re-mastered for a second time, showing that some demand seems still to exist for the album (the range in the reviews indicates that it is still being debated how good Beauty Stab really is).
Instead of writing about the music in details, I concentrate on the quality of this newest Neutron Re-release. The previous re-release dates from 1997. The re-mastering of that album was decent and included an extra track, the instrumental Vertigo. The sleeve had a few short essays about the album, period. This Neutron release has improved the sound from the initial re-mastering somewhat. The high tones are clearer. The difference is definitely audible but not dramatic, hence those who own the original re-release in most cases should not upgrade to this version on a sound basis alone. The packaging has been improved, with lyrics added this time around, some of which are timeless - She's vegetarian except when it comes to sex. There are also an additional two tracks from the initial re-release. One is an unedited version of That Was Then but This Is Now, which includes a minute or two of wailing guitars during the end of the song. The other song is a somewhat lame but funny ABC on 45 version of songs from the album called Selections from Beauty Stab, basically sections of songs taped together. I believe this was included on a plastic free single for NME readers.
The music is from my standpoint for the most parts fantastic, although a few songs being below par. The instrumental title track became known as the theme song for the Montreaux music festival which was popular during the mid 80s (few actually knew it was ABC performing that rocking theme song). Unzip and If I Ever Thought You'd Be Lonely are other examples of songs that have aged very well.
For those interested in Beauty Stab, I recommend this version. I also believe time has proved it also being a very good album in its own rights.