Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax (1984)

The video featured in the playlist above is the alternative video for Relax that wasn't banned, which simply features the band, rather than all of the controversial sexy stuff.

The only member of the band to actually perform on the single was Holly Johnson. Producer Trevor Horn wasn't happy with the band's sound, and roped in Ian Dury's backing band, The Blockheads, for some musical sessions. However, being the perfectionist that he was, even they weren't up to Horn's standard, and so he created an electronic version for the final single release.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax - silver single
Frankie Goes To Hollywood in the 80s

Frankie Goes To Hollywood leaving the Hammersmith Apollo in London, 1985. Photo by Jane McCormick Smith 


FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

Frankie Goes To Hollywood were one of the biggest-selling 80's acts and in 1984 they were huge! Their first single Relax was famously banned by BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Reid for its explicit lyrics, with "Relax, don't do it when you wanna go to it" referring to not bothering to use a condom during sex - pretty tame by today's standards!

The video was also banned as it was also deemed to be too sexually explicit. Well, a fat bloke pulling down his pants and urinating on the lead singer is pretty disgusting, although no real urine was used, thankfully.

Of course, after the ban the single then propelled to No.1 for five weeks, and even today it remains in the top ten best-selling UK singles chart, having sold over 2 million copies. Relax also re-entered the UK charts and reached No.2 whilst the second single, Two Tribes, was still hogging the limelight at No.1.

The Katherine Hamnett inspired "Frankie Say Relax" T-shirt became as big as the single. Several other T-shirts were also released, including "Frankie Say War - Hide Yourself!", and "Frankie Say Arm The Unemployed", although these weren't quite as successful.

The second Frankie single, Two Tribes, stayed put at No.1 for nine weeks and there were countless different 12 inch versions and remixes released by ZTT. Two Tribes is also in the top 30 of all-time best-selling UK singles chart.

After two singles that caused much controversy, quite unexpectedly, Frankie released a ballad The Power Of Love, which also spent a week at No.1, but was knocked off the top spot by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?".

In 1985, Welcome To The Pleasuredome was the final single to be released from the album of the same name and was the first Frankie song not to top the charts, peaking at #2 in the UK.

After the release of the Welcome To The Pleasuredome single, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, escaped from the tax men by moving around various locations (including a remote, Irish castle, apparently) and they had just six months to to pen their second album Liverpool.

Unfortunately, pop is a fickle business to be in and their return in the late summer of 1986 with the new single Rage Hard wasn't welcomed with open arms by the critics.

However, Rage Hard still reached No.4 in the UK charts, and the Liverpool album managed to reach a respectable No.5.  Far from a flop, but it was the start of the "slippery slope" for Frankie, and the next single Warriors Of The Wasteland only reached No.19 in the UK. However, many critics thought this was a pretty decent single, and should have been released before Rage Hard, as only die hard fans were now buying their music.

A final single Watching The Wildlife briefly visited the Top 30, but Frankie then disbanded - very sad.


 

Relax 2009 - Chicane Remix

Featuring Holly Johnson

This remix was released to promote the compilation album Frankie Say Greatest, and features an appearance by Holly Johnson. You can see the video in the playlist. There are lots of scantily clad ladies, and the innuendo of popping corks with foaming champagne spurting out of bottles, but nothing quite as controversial as the original.


The Power Of Love (1984)

This superb ballad was the band's third single release from the Welcome to the Pleasuredome album and was also Frankie's third No.1 in a row. It only topped the charts for one week in December 1984, as the Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas" claimed the top spot the following week just in time for Christmas!

The song was covered by Gabrielle Aplin for the John Lewis UK TV advert for Christmas 2012. It's one of the best cover versions I've heard and she has a very haunting voice, although I still prefer the production of the original.

The Power Of Love 7
Frankie Goes To Hollywood hardback book (1984) by Dean Anthony
Hardback book by Dean Anthony (1984)

Welcome To The Pleasuredome

Frankie's fourth single (released in March 1985) was the title track from the #1 album. Promotional posters suggested that this would be "their fourth number one". Unfortunately, the song peaked at #2 in the UK, but still achieved silver in sales which was extremely respectable for a fourth single from a debut album.

Welcome To The Pleasuredome was inspired by the poem "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A re-issue in 1993 (with remixes) reached #18 and featured on the album Bang! The Greatest Hits of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Another re-issue in 2000 (with yet more remixes!) reached #45 and featured on the album Maximum Joy.

Welcome To The Pleasuredome 7 inch single sleeve
FRankie Goes To Hollywood on the cover of Smash Hits in 1985

Paul Rutherford, Brian Nash, Mark O'Toole and Holly Johnson grace the cover of Smash Hits in February 1985. Drummer Peter "Ped" Gill isn't featured for some reason.

Vienna Symphonic Orchestra Project
Now, this is a little gem I found on Youtube - it's pretty amazing if I may say so myself! This version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's classic Welcome To The Pleasuredome is one of the best I've heard, and adds a lot of fresh ideas and new sounds. After hearing all of the 12" mixes around, including the original ZTT mixes and dance remixes, this is certainly the most refreshing and intriguing.

The original album version is a 13 minute epic produced by the legendary Trevor Horn, who had the knack of making everything sound dramatic and exciting - this is a guy who likes to pull out all the stops. For me, this the best track on the album, and it's a shame it didn't manage to top the charts, but by the time it was released almost everyone had bought the album anyway.
Frankie Say War! Live on The Tube

War was originally a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Mowtown label in 1969. This top quality cover featured on the Welcome to the Pleasuredome album, and the live version a cracking performance (love the guitar work on this) by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, who are performing their version of War live on the 80s British music show The Tube on Channel 4.

War was originally released in 1970 by Edwin Starr and topped the bilboard Hot 100 in the U.S. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1969, the song was originally produced for The Temptations, although it was was never released as a single by the American vocal group. However, it did feature on their album Psycheldelic Shack, and was much tamer than Starr's full-on version. 

Frankie's dramatic cover of War featured on their debut album Welcome To The Pleasuredome, but was never released as a single. The album achieved 3x Platinum in the UK.

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band also released a cover of War in 1986 and this reached #8 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #18 in the UK. 

Frankie Goes To Hollywood Performing Rage Hard on Top of the Pops in 1986

This was Frankie's fifth chart hit and it was the first single to be lifted from the Liverpool album. In this performance the band appear to have just robbed a bank! Keep your eyes open at 1:05 when the cameraman runs into lead singer Holly Johnson, who, in response, sticks his middle finger up to him!

As with all of the Frankie singles, there are quite a number of versions of Rage Hard, and the original UK 12" vinyl release included the Broad Version, Roadhouse Blues, (Don't Lose What's Left) Of Your Little Mind and Always Note The Sequencer. The Broad Version version has a rather weird intro, but once it finally gets going then it becomes a decent enough listen.

Released in August 1986 (seventeen months after the Welcome To The Pleasuredome single), the single itself reached #4 in the UK, although it managed to top the charts in Germany and reached #2 in Ireland. Although the song was far from a flop, it never achieved the success of Frankie's first three chart-topping releases Relax, Two Tribes and The Power Of Love.

With lyrics inspired by the poet Dylan Thomas, the song also had a more of a rock sound than previous releases, but lacked the production skills of Trevor Horn, a decent chorus, and the controversial lyrics that the record-buying public came to expect from the band. I actually quite like Stephen Lipson's production, but from a commercial point of view the song was never going to repeat the success of the golden days. 

For the release of the follow-up single, Warriors Of The Wasteland, Horn decided to produce an electro-rock version of the heavy metal track that featured on the Liverpool album, although it couldn't save the band from the decline in the charts.

Rage Hard 7
Warriors of the Wasteland

The sixth Frankie single was released on 11 Nov 1986 and reached No.19 in the UK. The single version had more of an electro-rock sound than the original album version, as it had been totally re-worked using a computer sequencer with samples of the band playing their instruments.

Warriors Maxi 12 inch - Twelve Wild Disciples Mix

Paul Rutherford - Oh World (1989)

This is the official video for Paul Rutherford's (Frankie's backing singer and dancer) solo single which was released in 1989 and was taken from the album of the same name.