Title: Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Two Tribes
Author: Jack Barron
Publish date: June 9 1984
FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD ‘Two Tribes’ (ZTT)
Second in a trilogy of themes, namely sex, war and religious ecstasy, ‘Two Tribes’ scrambles between courage on the 12” and cowardice on the 7” radio version. Both, however, prove Pansy Goes To Queersville are no one-off bum’s rush but potentially the most potent POPULAR music force of the 80s.
‘Two Tribes’ reeks of showbiz it’s true, but it manipulates it rather than lets itself be dominated. When listening it’s best to remember the band’s surname is Hollywood and we’re dealing with the ultimate pop cartoon.
Accordingly, everything about this disc is gross from the cover — a pic of a Lenin mural on the front, Thatcher and Reagan on the back inwards. Start to read the copious and funny sleeve notes and you’ll realize Campy are more than a group with their privates on parade.
Included are tables dealing with the relative nuclear strengths of America and Russia — the two tribes of this tale. Any sane person would look at the figures, understand there are enough arms to terminate all of us many times over, and put his hands over his ears. But the point is, most people are insane and when they see the imbalance in the totals — the US 3,000 megatons and the USSR 5,000 megatons — will probably believe in the necessity of Cruise and Pershings to achieve the fabled ‘parity’ the politicians
keep bleating about the bush with.
This is especially true of the 7” sleeve. In other words the info, which I can tell you came from an issue of Harpers (ho/ho!), is dangerously ambivalent.
So we come to the music - absolutely excellent from the pompous opening overture on. But again it fails in the 7” radio format because of discreet alterations. The title track on the 12”, neo-disco in a production of staggering parameters, is intercut with dialogue lifted from the sort of purile instructions HMG will issue via the broadcasting services in the event of a conflagration. You know the stuff… “If your grandmother or any other member of the family should die whilst in the shelter put them outside but remember to tag them first for identification purposes.”
These segments, together with parodies of possible lobotomy speeches Reagan might make on the appointed hour of doom, are completely omitted from the 7”. Why? Length isn’t a problem, after all the B side is taken up with an hilarious but unecessary interview between the band and Paul Morley. Thus it must be down to making sure they get radio play. That’s so bloody weak.
ZTT plan for Frankie to be the Sex Pistols of this decade on a sustained basis. The difference is Lydon would never have capitulated to the programmers. So ZTT are too aware of the game, too calculated and lack raw instinct. But nonetheless this is an amazing record, or as Holly would say “Oh yeah, well ‘ard”. Almost.