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Title: Frankie rage hard, rock loud, get sensible
Author: Adam Sweetin
Publish date: December 1986

THUMPING

Frankie rage hard, rock loud, get sensible

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
Liverpool
ZTT LP/Cass/CD

And all they ever really wanted to be was Bob Seger. Just listen to Watching The Wildlife, a thumping, rumpty-tumpty rocker full of scowling lead guitar and howling vocals. Consider Lunar Bay, a thundering slab of rock-disco, immaculately recorded to suggest enormous distance and a bottomless dynamic range. Fans, it’s a hair’s-breadth away from heavy metal. Frankie Goes To Cleveland.

Once again, Frankie bounce out of their corner with a bloody great racket, a crushing monolith of sound guaranteed to test the finest loudspeakers to destruction. Liverpool is better than Welcome To The Pleasuredome in all sorts of sensible respects. The songs aren’t fillers, because you can tell the lads have really been working on them. That ballad, Is Anybody Out There? What taste, what class, what crafty major seventh chords. What a wracked and sob-evoking vocal. Why on earth didn’t somebody give this song to Dusty Springfield?

There aren’t any Bruce Springsteen songs or jokey bits of nostalgia either, and there appears to be the absolute minimum of bad taste or things which might cause moral outrage. Liverpool is in fact an absolutely unimpeachable mainstream rock record, exhilarating in the way that all big rockers are supposed to be (despicable? You tell me).

I think it may all be an elaborate pastiche. The opener, Warriors Of The Wasteland, sounds exactly like Iron Maiden, featuring a monster riff and chorus with guitars that sound like hungry machines eating old cars. It would make a perfect theme tune for Mad Max XII. It’s utterly crass and rather exciting.

Rage Hard you know. This is the one where the Frankies take a very belated revenge on Martin Fry, for some crime we can only guess at. This is ABCs aluminium disco pumped full of explosive gases and convulsively detonated, and maybe Pete Wylie never landed the Frankie frontman job because he could never have parodied Fry as perfectly as this.

But while Frankie were always a sort of novelty act, it seems a shame that they’ve already become a post-futurist Barron Knights. Growing up means never having to say “Paul Morley Made Me”, but half the fun was always that he did. Now, the group appear to want to grow up and become mature, well-balanced citizens, which sounds like a damn silly way to wage war on showbusiness.

Liverpool is, once again, a brilliant noise. For all I know, it’s the most epic barrage of controlled decibels anybody’s ever made. Unfortunately, this merely means that the New Year honours this time round go to man-at-the-faders Steve Lipson instead of Trevor Horn. Buy it for your in-car stereo. ***

Adam Sweeting