Wednesday, October 29, 2014

welcome to the pleasuredome

Frankie Goes to Hollywood took the world by storm and lived life like a diamond ring with banned bravado and bawdy balderdash of this stately pop pleasure.  The group had formed in Liverpool from bands like Big in Japan, Sons of Egypt, and The Spitfire Boys.  After appearing on John Peel Session for BBC Radio 1 and the Channel 4 show The Tube at the Liverpool State Ballroom, Trevor Horn signed the group to his new ZTT Records label.  

'Welcome to the Pleasuredome' was produced by Horn  at Manor Studios, Oxford and Sarm Studios in London and features Holly Johnson on lead vocals;  Brian Nash on guitar;  Peter Gill on drums;  Mark O'Toole on bass; and Paul Rutherford on vocals.   Many session musicians were utilized as well:  J. J. Jeczalik on keyboards, programming, and software;  Andrew Richards on keyboards;  Louis Jardim on percussion;  Anne Dudley on keyboards and string arrangement for "The Power of Love";  Steven Lipson on guitar;  Steve Howe on acoustic guitar (for "Welcome to the Pleasuredome");  Trevor Rabin on guitar and keyboards;  and Trevor Horn on backing vocals and bass. 

Johnson considers:   "I always preferred the versions of those songs that were on the actual 45 7" singles, by Julian Mendelsohn. They're the ones that sold in their multi-millions and there's something about them that's really powerful and special. The mixes on the album are not quite as iconic...It's interesting, the whole idea of controversy in pop music... It is a pop art form but it's just entertainment...There have been artists who saw the controversial nature of 'Relax' as a blueprint. I think Madonna really wasn't very controversial on her first album particularly. We shared a management company in America and she definitely plucked the power of sexual controversy...It became a sort of blueprint really for modern pop and dance music in a way. Time and time again people have tried the same trick. I don't think anything has really had a high-profile ban since 'Relax' really. I think even the BBC realized that you were highlighting a record rather than burying it into obscurity by banning it...I always make the joke that I personally stopped the Cold War by writing 'Two Tribes'... I think all you can do is highlight issues in pop, occasionally without perhaps banging on about them too much, because banging as any politician knows is a big turn-off...I think cultural attitudes shift incrementally. I think being openly gay, or talking about the threat of nuclear war, all they do is highlight it in people's consciousness. It needs to happen to further the argument, to get people talking about that...But things happen slowly in the world in actual fact. There's not an immediate effect, but there's a slow, gradual one. I think with the record industry now people tend to veer away from serious issues rather than embrace them. That's all about the bottom line, isn't it really?...I'm sure record companies, or the remaining three major record companies - aren't really huge on acts that have a political agenda. The want pop fluff in a bikini - or a sort of worthy singer-songwriter... Who knows what the future holds, but politics seems to be off the pop music agenda at the moment."

Rutherford recalls:  "Everything good just seemed to converge. Every utter ingredient was right; we couldn’t understand why people weren’t signing us at first because we were amazing. Labels were saying we love you, but we can’t sign you because you’re gay and you’re too racy. We got burdened with that kind of shit. But we had amazing people that wanted to produce us. There was Brian Eno, Kate Bush or Trevor Horn. We chose Trevor Horn. I wonder what would have happened if we had gone with Kate Bush. She was mad. We would have been at the bottom of the charts... It all made sense to us, even that. We had this kind of bravado and just sailed through it. We just thought, “Whatever, it’s not going to fucking stop us,” and it didn’t. It gave us wings. It was like the punk thing which by then had died on its arse. It got pretty dirty. No one was wearing make-up. It just felt dirty again and more real...There was no time at all to take stock of what had happened. We would wake up to do thirty interviews, and then we would need to be on a plane to get to Paris tomorrow to collect some award or whatever. It became this thing that was an absolute constant. It did not stop. It was quite mad… it was genius really. But then it did end and it still felt great, like, wow it’s all over but what we did, how brilliant was that and then a year later it was like… Oh fuck, what have we done? It dawned on me that we had just abused probably the greatest gift that you could ever get. "

'Welcome to the Pleasuredome' went to number thirty-three in the US, nine in Canada, eight in Norway, seven in France and Sweden, five in Switzerland, four in Germany, three in Australia, two in the Netherlands, and number one in New Zealand and the UK.  In England, the album made its debut at number one with over a million advance orders.  Their first three singles went to the top of the charts in the UK, repeating the feat of Garry and the Pacemakers (whose song 'Ferry' was featured on the album) two decades before.  Frankie Goes to Hollywood won the Brit Award for Best British Newcomer and were nominated for Grammy and MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist.

Side 1: "F - Pray Frankie Pray"
1. "Well..."   Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Andy Richards 0:55
2. "The World Is My Oyster"     1:02
3. "Snatch of Fury (Stay)"   Gerry Marsden 0:36
4. "Welcome to the Pleasuredome"     12:58

Side 2: "G - Say Frankie Say"
5. "Relax (Come Fighting)"     3:56



6. "War (...and Hide)"

7. "Two Tribes (For the Victims of Ravishment)"  

Side 3: "T - Stay Frankie Stay"
9. "Ferry (Go)"  1:49

10. "Born to Run"  

11. "San Jose (The Way)"  

15. "Black Night White Light"  

16. "The Only Star in Heaven"    
"On my way to Hollywood; and this is how to get there!"

17. "The Power of Love"     5:28
"I'll protect you from the hooded claw; keep the vampires from your door."

'Welcome to the Pleasuredome'
full album:

All songs written and composed by Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash and Mark O'Toole except where noted

01. Well... - (0:00) 
02. The World Is My Oyster - (0:55) 
03. Snatch of Fury (Stay) - (1:58) 
04. Welcome To the Pleasuredome - (2:40) 
05. Relax (Come Fighting) - (15:39) 
06. War (...and Hide) -  Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield (19:35) 
07. Two Tribes (For the Victims of Ravishment) - (25:49) 
08. (Tag) - (29:11) 
09. Ferry (Go) -  Marsden  (29:45) 
10. Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen (31:34) 
11. San Jose (The Way) - Burt Bacharach, Hal David  (35:39) 
12. Wish (The Lads Were Here) - (38:48) 
13. The Ballad of 32 - (41:37) 
14. Krisco Kisses - (46:26) 
15. Black Night White Light - (49:25) 
16. The Only Star in Heaven - (53:34) 
17. The Power of Love - (57:50) 

18. Bang - (1:03:20)

25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition bonus disk

"Relax (Greatest Bits)" - 16:59
"One September Monday" - 04:49
"The Power of Love (12 inch version)" - 09:30
"Disneyland" - 03:07
"Two Tribes (Between Rulers And Ruling)" - 04:10
"War (Between Hidden And Hiding)" - 04:00
"Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Cut Rough)" - 05:40
"One February Friday" - 05:00
"The Ballad of 32 (Mix 2)" - 11:03
"Who Then Devised the Torment?" - 00:16
"Relax (Greek Disco Mix)" - 06:18
"Watusi Love Juicy" - 04:03
"The Last Voice" - 01:14

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