February 9, 2011
XO SAY: Move with me over the thrill of the 12 inch
In 1983, the music journalist Paul Morley, record producer Trevor Horn, and a lady name Jill Sinclair created ZTT Records - or Zang Tumb Tuum. In their 80's prime, the label was home to an amazing collection of artists, notably Art of Noise, Propaganda, Grace Jones, Anne Pigalle and a group intrinsically connected to the label, Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The music was unlike anything on the charts, taking chances in and fraying the edges of pop music. ZTT also excelled at visuals - incredible album packages with weird slogans and order forms for badges and bags.
Over the past few years, ZTT has remastered many of their great albums. Anyone who wants to understand 80's British pop needs to own the insanely gorgeous Welcome To The Pleasuredome, Frankie Goes To Hollywood's opus. That package is worth it alone for the 9 minute 12" version of The Power Of Love, one of the finest British ballads of the era and a landmark song for producer Trevor Horn.
Last week, I received a really wicked package in the mail containing several new ZTT releases. All three were released this week in the UK at budget prices:
A deluxe package for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's second (and final) album, Liverpool. It has the original record, plus b-sides and out-takes. Also included are the 20-minute cassette single mixes of Watching The Wildlife and Warriors of the Wasteland. The packaging is opulent, though we need to face it: the album was not that great. The liner notes joke about how electro bands at the time all went rock. And it failed.
Update: Due to legal issues, this FGTH remaster was never released and has since been pulled from ZTT's schedule. Second update: It's out now!
Also in the package is a new 2-CD, 150 minute collection of rarities called The Art of the 12", which includes mixes and rarities by Propaganda, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise, 808 State, Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Andrew Poppy, Anne Pigalle, etc. The title of this post comes from my favorite track on the collection, another Frankie remix, this one the 12-minute Rage Hard mix with its suggestive narration ("an essential part of the 12" is the climax...").
The most notable CD is a collection of hits by Claudia Brücken, former lead singer of Propaganda. It has that group's hit singles (Dr Mabuse, p:Machinery and Duel - video), along with a collection of solo singles and new tracks, including Night School and Thank You, both co-written with and produced by Stephen Hague (Pet Shop Boys, Blur, New Order). Cloud 9ine was written with Depeche Mode's Martin Gore. My favorite of the new songs is a cover of Bowie's 1984 classic This is Not America, done with Frankie's Paul Rutherford.
If you are an 80's aficionado, you need to check these out and keep up with the ZTT releases. I am really waiting for Anne Pigalle's album, Everything Could Be So Perfect. It passed me by as a kid, but now I find it fascinating.
Claudia Brucken Thank You (2011):
Frankie Goes To Hollywood Rage Hard (1986):