Friday, February 24, 2006

Funky Friday Is When You Want To Come
Frankie Say Funky Friday

Venerable British label ZTT has a new distribution deal here in the US, so last fall some of the killer back catalogue started hitting US shelves. I have picked up Propaganda's A Secret Wish, am working on getting the Art Of Noise discs, and this week I plunged into the 2CD insanity that is Frankie Goes To Hollywood's remix collection Twelve Inches - subtle, innit? As a teenager I was floored by these guys. It was the clash of two worlds - Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford brought the outrageous gay sex-dance-club vibe, all leather, jockstraps and poppers with fabulous disco beats. Then the band were the LADS - scruffy, party boys who brought the rock 'n roll. To my teenage self it was racy and exciting and fascinating and so far from the ordinary that I couldn't resist - me and millions of others apparently. In the hands of uber producer Trevor Horn and his band of studio wizards their music and words became epics, full of pomp and circumstance, club beats and rock riffs, pop meets art rock meets sex in an alley. Their exploits were extolled on the sleeves via the ramblings of writer Paul Morley. They became instant stars with their debut single Relax. It got them banned everywhere with it's racy lyrics and cover art, but didn't stop the song from reaching number one all over the world. They preceded to chew up the scenery for the next couple of years, milking their debut double album Welcome To The Pleasuredome for all it was worth - the singles were available in a dazzling array of formats, with different covers, versions and picture discs all factoring in. Their follow up Liverpool initially sold well in the UK, but it didn't have the hit power of the debut, and it was the beginning of the end for the band. Six months after the album came out Holly left to go solo. This began a series of legal battles that led to the end of the label's golden years of the '80s.

In the true spirit of FGTH it would be remiss of me to not post the anarchic Relax. Instead of the tidy single version I give you the sprawling, 16:24 (yes, you did read that right - sixteen minutes and twenty four seconds) cosmically/comically prolonged climax of the Relax (Sex Mix). If you're gonna get Relax it better be the most annoyingly brilliant version of it, right? For you to love or hate.

My personal fave of theirs is and has always been the debut album's title track, so it is with great pleasure that I offer Welcome To The Pleasuredome (Escape Act Video Mix). An epic tune that incorporates jungle animals, Kublai Khan and sex into an orgy of excess. It rides a killer groove, a sublime bassline, chiming guitars, and a great funky break that makes me freaking lose it every time. A couple of slices of seriously debauched '80s funk rock to help you with your weekend preparations...

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