October 12, 2009

Frankie Say Cash Cow! Hide Yourself



It is hard to believe it now, but there was a period of time in 1984 when Frankie Goes To Hollywood was so huge that even The Washington Post did a 1200 word piece (long for a newspaper) on the front page of their Show section in November 1984. Here's an excerpt:

The demand is unreal, said Sheldon Michaelson, buyer at Washington's Record and Tape Ltd. Michaelson said the Georgetown store alone is moving 100 copies a week of both the "Relax" and "Two Tribes" 12-inche records, and even the standard 7-inch single is selling fast. "People come in off the streets and ask, 'When is the album coming?' -- that's wild...

"They
want to be on top of what they think may be the Next Big Thing."They appeal to rockers and disco people, straights and gays," Michaelson says. "They have no form and no substance -- they never do the same thing twice. So people see in them what they want. They're only as controversial as you see it. And the sound is infectious. When they first put it on in the store, I had to come out of my office and ask what it was -- never heard anything like it." Michaelson says he has ordered 2,000 copies of the new album, the biggest order the store has made in a long time -- surpassing even Prince's "Purple Rain."
Frankie's third single, The Power Of Love, is one of my favorites songs of all time (video). It was also their third number one in the UK, though they were knocked off the top after one week by Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas.

On the occasion of yet another Hits collection for the group, Paul Lester of The Times just did a great new piece on the band that's definitely worth your time. Via the same link, you can also see a new video for Relax - one that's depressingly lame until the arrival midway through of a fantastically preserved Holly Johnson.


Frankie, ten blocks from my house and next to some other slightly famous place.


Frankie article quoted above by Joe Brown, Washington Post, Nov 4 1984

For those who want to read something from the era, check out The Road To The Pleasure Dome from The Face's December 1984 issue.







9 comments:

John said...

"Power" is potentially my all-time favorite song of any genre. It had such an impact on me in my teens, and it has risen to the surface to make its presence known to me time and time again. I am forever in awe of the impact that someone can make by stringing notes and beats and words together, and I am eternally jealous that I do not have that ability.

xolondon said...

Fortunately you don't need the ability to respect it. We agree on this song and really should toast to it someday!

Vinny Vero said...

Fantastic article. And you are so right. Holly looks nearly the same 25 years on! Relax, indeed.

John said...

There's one more thing we can agree on.

Matt said...

On top of that, Holly is on Twitter and has been nothing but a sweetheart to me since I've been writing him on and off! Legendary. Who makes pop like 'Pleasuredome' anymore??

Paul said...

great write up. My older brother told me that Relax was about needing to go to the toilet!! I'm not sure whether he was protecting my innocent mind or just naive. And that song was banned by the Mormon church, but Power of Love was on the approved list! HA!

orbellcomms said...

Nice blog and good to read the old articles too.

I wrote a little piece myself about the imagery and marketing which may be of interest too.

http://orbellcomms.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/frankie-say-marketing/

Michael said...

Ugh. The house-ification of "Relax" in the video is lame. How dare they mess with Trevor's drums!

countpopula said...

I guess it was inevitable that there would be another remix made, but if it brings the song to a new generation, OK. Two Tribes was their real ace though, and although the video may be rather dated, the themes are universal and current today.

I really enjoyed the part in the article about a mass meeting of the band and its "team" with the fans to create a movement of sorts, no matter how hollow it rings. There are very few people you could currently point to that would have that sort of impact on the culture. I find that every time I try to describe the impact of somebody like Prince or Michael Jackson during their heyday to somebody under the age of twenty, they just cannot fully comprehend it. Britney is about the closest they get to a reference point. I'm sure the previous generations have similar feelings about the Beatles & the Stones. Ultimately, it is a fight against time.