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Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Frankie Say Greatest

Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Frankie Say Greatest

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NO MATTER what you thought of them at the time, Frankie Goes To Hollywood were one of the biggest and most provocative pop acts of the ’80s.

Comprised of five Liverpudlian lads led by Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford, the band polarised opinion, found themselves banned from the radio, and became the first band to score back to back No.1s with their first three singles. That’s a feat only previously achieved by the likes of Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Their calling card and signature tune remains Relax, which courted controversy when Radio 1 DJ Mike Read took exception to the sexual content (the lyrics “suck it”, in particular) and took it off the air, describing it as “overtly obscene”. Having languished in chart obscurity for some time, the record – and its accompanying video – suddenly became the “go to” record for a generation who lapped up the controversy surrounding it.

Relax subsequently shot to No.1 and launched Frankie Goes To Hollywood as pop icons – sexually frank, sometimes deviant, always provocative and highly controversial.

It was followed by Two Tribes, an anti-war rant that was pumped up, dance-floor friendly, and boasted yet another provovative video featuring two world leaders in a wrestling match. It caused uproar, but it demonstrated cheekiness and intelligence and deservedly became a hit.

As if to subvert expectation almost completely, Frankie then followed that up with The Power of Love, one of the most enduring ballads of the ’80s (if not all time). The change of pace was striking and it became a pre-Christmas No.1 at a time when Do They Know It’s Christmas also dominated the charts.

Suddenly, Frankie Goes To Hollywood were pop superstars and cultural icons. Their album, Welcome To The Pleasuredome saw pre-release orders in excess of 1.25.000 million copies in the UK alone – an achievement not matched since The Beatles White Album had been announced.

T-shirts proclaiming “Frankie Says” were the new fashion statement and everyone wanted a piece of the band – whether to chastise and criticise, or jump on the bandwagon.

Competent cover versions of Springsteen’s Born To Run, seminal anti-war anthem War and Gerry & The Pacemakers’ Ferry Across The Mersey merely underlined their appeal and popularity.

But behind the scenes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood saw very little of the financial returns that accompanied their overwhelming commercial success. Most of their money was made through T-shirt sales.

Sophomore album Liverpool, which was released in 1986, failed to emulate the success of Pleasuredome and plunged the band into financial ruin. According to their website, they would have had to have sold 2.5 million copies just to break even.

But none of the singles, such as Warriors of the Wasteland and Rage Hard, captured the public’s imagination in the same way. Admittedly, they lacked the verve of Relax and sounded too samey. They’ve also failed to age as well… as listening to this Greatest Hits package will prove.

That said, the release of Frankie Say Greatest does offer a nice nostalgia trip and a chance to open Frankie Goes To Hollywood up to a new generation. The seminal hits are still fun, funky and dance-floor friendly, and come complete with remixes from the likes of Chicane, Freddie Bastone and Scott Storch.

It’s a [mostly] fun package that’s worth revisiting… complete with T-shirt and all.

Download picks: Relax, Two Tribes, The Power of Love, Ferry Across The Mersey, War, Welcome To The Pleasuredome, Relax (Chicane remix)

Track listing:
Disc One

  1. Relax
  2. Two Tribes
  3. Welcome To The Pleasuredome [Escape Act Video Mix]
  4. War
  5. The Power Of Love
  6. Ferry Cross The Mersey
  7. Is There Anybody Out There
  8. Tag
  9. Born To Run
  10. Rage Hard
  11. Warriors Of The Wasteland
  12. Watching The Wildlife
  13. Happy Hi
  14. The Waves
  15. Relax [Chicane Radio Edit]
  16. Two Tribes [Hibauska]
  17. Relax [Lockout]

Disc Two

  1. Relax [Sex Mix]
  2. Two Tribes [Annihilation]
  3. War [Hidden]
  4. Welcome To The Pleasuredome
  5. Rage Hard [Freddie Bastone Remix]
  6. Watching The Wildlife [Hotter]
  7. Relax [Scott Stoch]
  8. Suffragette City
  9. Our Silver Turns To Gold
  10. Get It On