Holly Johnson - 80s Songs
The first five videos in the playlist are the original versions of Holly's solo singles from 1989 to 1991. I wanted to include the first release from the Dreams That Money Can't Buy album, Where Has Love Gone?, but it is not available, unfortunately.
Also included are a 2010 studio performance of Americanos, a live version of Relax from the 80s Rewind Festival in 2011, a stunning 2013 live charity performance of The Power Of Love, and the single Love And Hate ft. Ryuichi Sakamoto.
New Holly Johnson Songs
The latest additions to the playlist include the two new(ish) singles Follow Your Heart and In And Out Of Love which both feature on Holly's album Europa, which was released in September 2014. Mr. Johnson's voice is on sparkling form and I particularly like the second single In And Out Of Love which has a very infectious chorus and a fun video.
Update: Added in February 2016 "Ascension". Holly's new single (co-written with Gary Barlow) from the soundtrack to the movie Eddie The Eagle.
"LOVE TRAIN" (1989)
Love Train was Holly Johnson's first solo single after Frankie disbanded, and reached No.4 in the UK Charts in 1989, and #65 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. The club-friendly tune featured a guitar solo by Queen guitarist Brian May, and innuendo laden lyrics that could've given DJ Mike Read a heart attack - "You're just right to keep me up all night". Coupled with a video that looked like it was set in toy town, this was shear genius!
The 12" vinyl and CD single included the Ride The 'A' Train extended mix, and like the 7" included Murder In Paradise as the B-side.
Holly Johnson is, of course, most famous for being the lead singer of one of the most controversial and biggest-selling eighties bands - Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
After leaving Frankie, Holly's second stab at a solo career saw him venture into less controversial territory, with the release of more middle of the road pop songs. This was a wise move, as Frankie left one hell of a legacy to compete with, and continuing along the same road would just never have worked.
In 1989, Holly released his first solo single Love Train, a catchy dance/pop tune that reached no.4 in the UK charts. It didn't have the most original of titles, but was a solid debut single, nonetheless, and went down well in the clubs.
The follow-up single, Americanos, featured an even more catchy hook and also reached no.4 - it should have reached No.1 in my opinion, but I don't think many people grasped the fact that he was not actually celebrating American culture, but despising it.
Following the success of these two singles, the album Blast (MCA) was quickly released and this rocketed straight to no.1. Two more singles were also released from the album, Atomic City, a dramatic, anti-nuclear track produced by Dan Hartman, and "Heaven's Here, a lyrically impressive love song which featured a tea-time chorus.
For anyone wanting to create a hit single in the 80s, Blast provided the perfect lesson on how to do it. It featured ten melodic tracks that were a world away from Trevor Horn's ginormous productions, and had just the right mix of ingredients to make a No.1 album. And Johnson ingeniously managed to slide his political views into songs that had teen pop choruses.
Holly Johnson released a second studio album on the MCA label "Dream's That Money Can't Buy" in 1991. Unfortunately, due to MCA cutting their promotional budget, and a lack of airplay for the first single, Where Has Love Gone?, the album failed to hit the top 40.
Another two singles were also released from the album, Across The Universe and The People Want To Dance.
Holly Johnson also released an album in 1999 called "Soulstream".
Holly also became well-known for his hats!
- Blast (1989) MCA (DMCG 6042)
- Hollelujah - The Remix Album (1990) MCA (DMCL 1902)
- Dreams That Money Can't Buy (1991) MCA (MCAD 10278)
- Soulstream (1999) Pleasuredome (PLDCD001)
- Europa (2014) Pleasuredome
- Love Train (1989) MCA (DMCAT 1306)
- Americanos (1989) MCA (DMCAT 1323)
- Atomic City (1989) MCA (DMCAT 1342)
- Heaven's Here (1989) MCA (DMCAT 1365)
- Where Has Love Gone (1990) MCA (DMCAT 1460)
- Across The Universe (1991) MCA (MCSTD 1513)
- The People Want To Dance (1991) MCA (MCSTD 1563)
- Legendary Children (1994) Club Tools (CLU 6045-5)
- Disco Heaven (1999) Pleasuredome (PLDCD1004) CD1 & CD2
- The Power Of Love (1999) Pleasuredome (PLDCD1005) CD1 & CD2
- Follow Your Heart (2014) Pleasuredome
- In And Out Of Love (2014) Pleasuredome
- Heaven's Eyes (2015) Pleasuredome
- Dancing With No Fear (2015) Pleasuredome
- Ascension (2016) UMC
The second single from the Blast album stayed in the UK charts for 11 weeks and just like Love Train, also peaked at No.4. The song was No.1 in Austria and No.2 in Germany.
The lyrics aren't supposed to be taken at face value and are actually attacking American culture, not celebrating it as some critics believed.
There were around a dozen remix versions of Americanos, including the Mambo Dub Mix and Liberty Mix which featured on the CD single version. The Justin Strauss Extended Mix featured on a reissued two CD version of the Blast album in 2010 which featured 30 tracks. The original Justin Strauss mix and extended mix originally featured on a U.S promotional CD released in 1989.
An imaginatively titled remix album Hollelujah was released in 1990 and featured a Frankie Knuckles remix of Love Train, plus remixes of Americanos, Atomic City, Perfume and Heaven's Here, plus the title track Hollelujah.
Holly Johnson's second solo studio album
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO AND HOLLY JOHNSON
"LOVE AND HATE"
This rare gem (in the playlist at the top of the page) is from 1994 and features Frankie Goes To Hollywood's former frontman Holly Johnson in a very arty video. Love and Hate was produced and written by Holly Johnson, with Ryuichi Sakamoto also having a hand in the lyric writing.
Ryuichi Sakamoto is a Japanese musician who was originally a keyboardist for the electronic act Yellow Magic Orchestra who formed in 1978 and disbanded in 1983. As a solo artist Sakamoto has released 38 solo albums, and teamed up with 80s band Aztec Camera in 1993 on the single Dreamland.
HOLLY JOHNSON AT 80S REWIND
Holly performed a set at the 80s Rewind Festival in England during the summer of 2011, and in Scotland during July 2012. He also made a guest appearance on a cover of The Hollies He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother by the Justice Collective, which was released in December 2012 and became the UK Christmas No.1 single - proceeds went to charities associated with the Hillsborough stadium disaster. Also during December, Gabrielle Aplin hit the No.1 spot with her cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's single The Power Of Love, which means that Holly had a hand in two number one singles in the same month!
In 2014 Holly released his brand new album Europa which reached #63 in the UK album charts. Four singles were also released from the album with the final single Dancing With No Fear reaching #2 in the UK vinyl charts in 2015.
Holly at the Premiere of Eddie The Eagle - March 2016
Holly in 2015 with Pippa Brooks, Pam Hogg and Simon Le Bon
1987 Smash Hits Panini sticker
Holly is ready to go to war on 20th June 1984