Bang….The Greatest Hits Of Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Bang!...The Greatest Hits of Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Goes to Hollywood (FGTH) were an English dance-pop band that were extremely popular in the mid-1980s. The Liverpool group was fronted by Holly Johnson (vocals), with Paul Rutherford (vocals, keyboards), Peter Gill (drums, percussion), Mark O’Toole (bass guitar) and Brian Nash (guitar).

The group’s debut single “Relax” was famously banned by the BBC in 1984 while at number six in the charts and subsequently topped the UK singles chart for five consecutive weeks, going on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year and ultimately becoming the seventh best-selling UK single of all time (as of May 2006). After the follow-up success of “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love“, FGTH became only the second act in the history of the UK charts to reach number one with their first three singles; the first being Gerry & the Pacemakers in 1964.

In 2003, the VH1 program Bands Reunited brought Johnson, Rutherford, Gill, Nash, and Mark O’Toole together from the far corners of the world, in the hope of their agreeing to perform impromptu on the show. By all appearances, the band mates got on well enough and enjoyed seeing each other again, but reunion performance did not eventually transpire. Both Johnson and Nash had reservations about performing at short notice in the contrived manner dictated by the TV show format. [Wikipedia]

Relax—-One of the defining songs and videos of the 80’s. Frankie built upon the hype of this release with outrageous behavior, over sized T-Shirts and an official ban from The BBC….this only bolstered their popularity and settled this track in the #1 spot for 5 weeks in the UK. There is no denying the addictive quality of the song, the driving synth line and the overt sexual innuendo. All of this combined with the damn pleasant vocal from Holly only serve to create a masterpiece that still plays wonderfully well today. This is a piece of history whether you like it or not!!!

Two Tribes—-With an introduction of overt orchestration, it is only moments before the pure bass driven synth line kicks in and moves the song along at a frantic pace. It is odd to think back to this time period when the ‘cold-war’ was still in effect and the contemplation of war at any moment was a natural state. This is monstrous…the synth line rules the song, but the guitars are fantastic and the lazy vocal is masterful. This was another great video….full of energy and familiar synth strains, you could not ask for more. Masterful!!!

War—-A perverted play on the Edwin Starr classic, FGTH delivers yet another dance floor stomper with a relevant message. The way this song segued on the proper cassette release was masterful…the entire thing taking on an almost conceptual nature of social awareness. The whole band joins in on the chorus, allowing this song to be a big sing-a-long fest that quenches your thirst for activism and makes you dance as well. Fantastic.

Ferry Across The Mersey—-This has always played rather odd for me…not one of my favorite songs by any means. Johnson sounds literally depressed and removed from the song. The band is kept at a low hum and the energy is absolutely gone from the track. This is nice if you are feeling a bit introspective…this won’t do for me today….sorry.

Warriors Of The Wasteland—-Returning to full throttle dance floor heaven, the synths in this song are masterful…the bass will make you crazy as it just seems to get louder and louder. The vocal begins rather sedate….allowing you to hear every single word. The added female vocal in the backdrop allows this to me truly gay friendly. When the full energy of the chorus kicks in, you are treated to a full on dance classic. One of my favorites.

For Heaven’s Sake—-This has enough of a jazz overtone to make me think automatically of ABC….the song is rather sedate and laden with a slow and jazzy backdrop heavy on percussion and cymbals. The vocal is more of a croon and plays rather odd next to some of the more aggressive songs. Not bad, but by no means the bands finest hour.

The World Is My Oyster—-a short, almost spoken word intro that allows the entrance of the 13 minute….

Welcome To The Pleasuredome—-This is a tour-de-force of every gay clichĂ© you could imagine. This defines the sexual excess of the decade before the reality of AIDS really set in….the synth line is remarkably familiar, lending a sense of comfortability for the listener…the track takes elements of almost every song on the debut and incorporates it into an incredibly long song. The vocal from Johnson is at times sublime and sedate…at other times sexually charged with overt lyrics and at other times nicely aggressive. This is magnificent!!!

Watching The Wildlife—-This begins remarkable pretty, and then magically develops into a grand gay affair. The innuendos are all over the song and it seems hard to me to believe that the band though they were really fooling anyone. This is remarkably GAY!!! I guess that is the appeal for me…the lines are classic and the simple line ‘watching the wildlife’, says it all. This is brilliant. Rather sedate, but a huge amount of fun.

Born To Run—-The entire idea that this rather gay band would even attempt to cover the mastery of Springsteen is rather humerous…the result turned out to be pretty damn good for me…at any rate. The guitars and the synth line come together to produce a huge dance floor track that sticks to the true sound of the song while adding a few Frankie touches in the process. This is huge fun, a classic track and one of my all time favorites…I much prefer this to Relax!!!

Rage Hard—-Again, delving into the gay world with sexual overtones and a heavy bass beat that seems appropriate for sexually deviant behavior…the song brings to mind the bath houses and back rooms of the 1980’s that have pretty much disappeared in this new millenium and awareness of the epidemic we live with. The vocal is full of slight anger and sexually charged tones…the chorus urging us to Rage Hard is huge and full of sparks that fly from speaker to speaker. This is really nice…this can be a very sexual song…this can also be a very socially relevant track…you pick and choose!

The Power Of Love—-This was a rather huge hit for the band in the UK…here in the States, our ADHD tastes had moved on by the time of the second release of the band. This is gentle and introspective…showing us that the band was not all sex and back room behaviour…but instead encompassing romanticism and emotion. This is rather splendid and still plays really well today.

Bang—-This short little interlude is full of quiet synth and the trademark vocal proclaiming Frankie Say……….nice but not necessary on this retrospective.

Relax [New York Mix/The Original 12“]—-This classic remix version of the song really adds nothing new…just extended elements of the original, giving the track even more hype and bass. This only allows the sexual charge of the song to become even larger and more pronounced…this is fun, but overplayed…the a capella remix is better and even more fabulous!!!

Two Tribes [Teckno Prisoner featuring Adamski]—-Mastermind Adamski takes this track and turns it into a huge tech classic full of hyper beats and swirling synth lines. This is masterful and seems to me much better than the original by far. Adamski…long an obsession of mine reworks this song…turns it inside out and throws it in the washer in just a few minutes. This is classic wonderment. Literally genius!!!

**** out of 5


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