ZTT Records Celebrate Their 30th Anniversary With A Trio Of Compilations
FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD: FRANKIE SAID (DELUXE EDITION) - 8/10
Their reign was brief but incandescent. The greatest expression of self destructive superficiality, a phenomenon that challenged modesty, righteousness and the etiquette of accepted conduct, Frankie Goes To Hollywood were the biggest name in 80’s pop and first class achievers of notoriety. Trevor Horn’s production wizardry was massive, opulent and fearless, a towering inferno of catchy, apocalyptic pop excess with layers of club hedonism, instantly danceable disco funk and throbbing industrial bass lines. The media manipulation tactics of Paul Morley ensured them a place in popular culture forever….accomplished in the space of their first 3 singles and a debut album. First single ‘Relax’, a pounding bass driven disco/rock tune was pronounced obscene by Radio 1 DJ Mike Read leading to a complete ban by the BBC which catapulted the song - which at that time was floundering in a mediocre chart placing - to the top of the charts for 5 weeks before going on to sell a reported 2 million copies, winning best British single at The Brit Awards and seventh best selling single in UK chart history. Second single ‘Two Tribes’ was a gigantic, overblown Hi-NRG masterpiece that shook the walls of a world still consumed by cold war paranoia with it’s nuclear war public information voiceovers, relentless bass line and aggressive orchestral pyrotechnics. It hit the top of the charts and remained there for 9 weeks. Third single ‘The Power Of Love’ was their third (and last) number one. A soul searching power ballad drenched in melodic sweetness and drifting orchestration was Frankie Goes To Hollywood at their least belligerent and displaying a gentler side never before shown. As Holly Johnson crooned ‘When the chips are down I’ll be around with my undying, death defying love for you’ you believed him. Three singles and three very different subjects in sex, war and love.Frankie Said is a hugely unforgettable collection of the singles (7 in all) the remixes, a stunning live version of Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’ which, I personally think, is so much better. So, for those who would like to see what all the fuss of 1984 was about you’ll find it all in here - from that powerful trio of number one singles to the journey’s end. Let’s honour the hype!
THE ORGANISATION OF POP: MUSIC FROM THE FIRST 30 YEARS - 7/10The imagination and the technical proficiency of ZTT Records as well as their love of experimental methods produced a huge back catalogue of contradictory music from straightforward mainstream influenced pop to the less radio-friendly oddities of heavy sampled, multi-layered creations. The glaring diversity of sounds was a significant lesson in creativity that eclipsed the era it lived in and remains a benchmark in making music today. The two disc collection delves into both sides of the ZTT coin from the obvious hit-intended singles to the less apparent cross-breeds with a more subjective destination in mind. Disc 1 is the hit-intenders and includes, within the majesty of it’s presence, the breath-catching Shane MacGowan/Sinead O Connor duet ‘Haunted’, the Shades Of Rhythm house anthem ‘Extacy’. the captivating Kirsty MacColl song ‘Angel, apocalyptic disco monster ‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (and why wouldn’t they?) stunning Art Of Noise invention ‘Moments In Love’ and the synth- pop classic ‘Dr Mabuse’ by Propaganda. Disc 2 features the ‘other side’ of pop - songs of varying fundamentals that knocked hard at the walls of your uncovered subterranean tastes with a host of perplexities including ‘The Amusement’ by Andrew Poppy, a psychedelic cover of Cream’s ‘I Feel Free; by Sun Electric, Adamski’s Thing’s ‘Picadilly Circus and Mantra’s ‘Intensify’. As sporadic as it is expansive this is a fascinating adventure through time, a showcase of the grandiloquent understatements, a legacy underlined with an importance to be looked at by everyone. It’s a little piece of everything contemporary from unorthodox to familiar and you cant call yourself a fan of music if you don’t at least begin the journey down the fascinating trajectory that awaits you. Volume is just a fragment of it!
ART OF THE TWELVE INCH (VOLUME THREE) - 7/10Nobody embraced the 12” single with as much significance than ZTT did. They turned it into an art form, a ground-breaking age of the extended mix that dictated DJ sets and changed dance floor politics amid a flurry of sampling and remixes. The cybernetic makeover pulled new life from it’s source material stretching what was once 3 minutes long into a 15 minute complex variation of itself. ZTT used it as a means of creativity like the 16 minute ‘sex mix’ of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ or the multiple remix which procreated a different version of ‘Two Tribes’ every four weeks or the elaborate soundscape ‘Moments In Love’ by The Art Of Noise. The torrent of edited rehashed reworks proved nothing could ever be considered definitive, that music was itinerant and transitory and capable of much more than the standard 7” single would suggest. The Art Of The 12 Inch (Volume Three) brings reworked ZTT material plus remixed tracks by artists connected (loosely ) to the label or those within. It’s an interesting collection that includes some rarely glimpsed, perhaps unknown to some, works of intrigue like the instrumental dub version of the Madness song ‘Our House’ entitled ‘Mad House’, an extended 12” of ‘Sign Of The Times’ by The Belle Stars, ABC’s ‘Look Of Love’ parts 1,2,3 and 4, the ‘Rage Hard’ vocal/remix by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s ‘Love Missile F1-11 (video mix) and Apollo 440 remix of ‘Heart Of Glass’. The radical thinking ZTT soundscaped the 80’s with their history-making productions, a cabaret of sound within a theatre of music that didn’t just change the way music was produced but how it was distributed and the various forms of doing that. A liberating intellectual development that developed the avant-garde aesthetic still neoteric in it’s construction today.
ZTT RECORDS HOMEPAGE