Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Welcome To The Pleasuredome
Consequently, there was an air of expectation around this album well before it came out for this was to mark the new era of dance music which would sweep the country and then the world. Holly Johnson even remarked that popular music went in seven year cycles: in 1963 it had been the Beatles who turned music upside down; in 1970 it was the hard rock of Led Zeppelin: in 1977 the Sex Pistols brought punk to the fore; and 1984 was going to be the year of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and this sort of revitalised dance music, heralding a new trend in music. It was this expectation which saw the record company decide, in their inimitable and short-sighted fashion, to milk this particular cash cow for all it was worth before the band imploded and the record company moved onto the next phase of exploitation.
The problem with this devious strategy was that the album did not live up to its hype. A double album was simply too long and I do not think the band had enough material to make a double album work. Too many of the other songs are covers, and often not very good ones either. Then the band imploded as expected and split up and everyone slagged them off. From being the great hope of British music they became the dregs overnight. It is arguable that, had they adopted a more measured approach to this album and not rushed headlong into a Christmas deadline frenzy without sufficient material, then they might have survived, a little longer at least.
It is this crucial lack of decent material which bedevils this album. In retrospect, I am not even sure if they had enough decent material for a single album. Its emergence, indeed the emergence of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, co-incided with that phase in my life when I came closest to the mainstream. Perhaps it was for this reason that I fell in with the hype. Naturally, I went out and bought it but it was never something which occupied my turntable for any great length of time. If I had to sum up the album, and indeed the band, it would be "all style and no substance".
Listening to the album again recently as part of the process of reviewing it I found that if anything my opinion had hardened. I still feel that it lacks punch when it could have been so much more. The production is just too slick and there is not enough of any depth behind the undoubted style and panache which is the principal characterisation of it. If you got this as an album for Christmas then I would compare your experience of it to the building anticipation leading up to you eventually opening up that big present under the tree and finding just an empty box. But whatever the broader demerits of the album, the two singles just shine through as being far and away the most impressive pieces on the album. They alone justify any rating it receives above the lowest for without them that is what Welcome to the Pleasuredome would have surely received.
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