Perfect debut albums: FGTH "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"
Posted by Bo Ellegaard on November 23, 2020 0 Comments
This time I'll have to beg of you, dear reader, to bear with me on my choice of "The Perfect Debut Album", because as with the other albums in this series was about the music, the singing, the playing- the overall songs of a given debut album, all of this doesn't necessarily apply to the "perfect" album presented here.
I'm thinking more "The Perfect Consumer Product Debut Album" as a whole. Fashion, attitude, style, hype, oh yes and music(!), three perhaps four good songs on a 64 minutes' double album...come on!!
I forgot to mention the secret weapon for promoting all this was still a novelty. Mind you MTV started in 1981 but some of the music videos merely showed a band playing "live" in the studio or a concert situation. The videos to promote FGTH's singles were small motion picture films with film sets, actors and extras. Nothing was too elaborate or expensive and I'm sure the videos paved way for selling loads of records! I shall refrain from comments on the contents of the videos!
Post-punk, New Wave, Goth, New Romantics, the new Wave of heavy metal plus the old Guard, among them dinosaurs Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd with their recent succes The Wall- the list was as long as your arm with genres and sub-genres. Some of these genres spawned from "The Year Of Punk" and on. Some of course from before 1976.
But here in 1983 nobody could yet really see the future of rock 'n' roll!
Yes, I do know that in Manchester something was happening and was soon to materialize but meanwhile, west of Davyhulme, a bunch of Liverpudlians with a mission, a few good songs and an ace producer were ready to roll!
Frankie Goes To Hollywood totally dominated the UK singles charts at the end of 1983 bursting out with the number one single "Relax". Likewise with the singles "Two Tribes" and "The Power Of Love" charting the next year.
But as an album's band! How would this work?
Their 1984 double album, "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"(ZZT IQ1) is the one in question here!
It contained both the three singles and the title track, a forth single and...not a lot more actually, that is
if you're looking for original band material, because as fillers you find as diverse a selection of songs as "Born To Run" to "Do You Know The Way To San José?" covered plus Edwin Starr's "War" and Gerry And The Pacemakers' "Ferry Cross The Mercy" thrown in for good(?) measure.
As the ongoing discussion to wheather "The Beatles" (aka "The White Album") should only have been one fantastic LP album you could argue the same here, but as with The Beatles' album where "more was more", in the case of "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"- "more" were almost too much: 64 minutes of so-called Hi-NRG dance music a few ballads and a rocker.
But this was how they got their message through, that's for sure.
In the studio producer Trevor Horn (The Buggles/Yes) had conjured up this new "bigger than life"-sound that together with an impressive percussive energy added to the songs blew you away in 1984 and does in fact even to this day.
With the instant succes- over a million copies and a number one in the British album charts as well as in other European countries FGTH danced all the way to the bank!
Allow me to notice here that Trevor Horn prior to this release had given prog rockers Yes a new lease of life on "90125"(their Atlantic prefix number, by the way!) with his totally new aspect on how a studio album could sound in 1983.
As spin-off of the original music product was an array of t-shirts and other merchandise carrying FGTH slogans like, "Frankie says ....Relax!" The inner sleeve listed all this merchandise. You just ticked the box(es) of your desired apparel and posted the order. Remember this was before the internet!
The album cover itself was as pompous as the music itself. On the front of the gatefold cover a faux Fernand Leger painted portrait of the band and on the center spread a "Picasso fantasy" and some Warhol quote dropping.
FGTH also played live! The surprise about this piece of information is that soon after the initial succes rumours had it that it was not in fact the members of the band you heard playing on the records but hired studio musicians!!
A second unsuccesful album "Liverpool" in 1986 and a row between singer Holly Johnson and Mark O'Toole ended the band's career.
All I wanted to do in this blog post was to draw attention to this perfect pop symphony that is the recorded sound of "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"!!
Should you need further info I recommend you go to youtube, FGTH from Wembley Arena 2004.
427.183 viewers can't be wrong!!
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