ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”


Jimmy Mack takes on the charts biggest monster

I DONT give a **** what Frankie says. That wasone cheeky chappies T-shirt slogan, designed to crack wry smiles. ‘Cause it tore through all the horrendous hype, slimy deals, slippery eels and skyscraper egos around me! But what would you expect from a Beeb On The Road special, especially when it features trendy Frankie Goes To Hollywood miming to ‘War? The cynic in me had to chuckle at the shock-horror headlines for the event. After all, theyre just five scally wag scousers whove released a coupla naughty hits. Not about to bring the government down, is it?

Hard sell at (its) best, the ‘Relax and ‘wo Tribes scandals may have people babbling about neoSatisfaction and armchair Apocalyse Now in sensurround, but are they really poison in the machine set to attack the raw nerves of the punter? Do they have the acidic wit and positive fury of the best Jam, Pistols and Specials stuff? Pinch of salt time. How much do Mr Morley and Mr Horn obfuscate the true feelings of the real Frankies? Do they exist at all …

p>I sought answers at Norwich Ritzys where Frankie were appearing with the twendy Thomson Twins (and phoney Nik Kershaw to boot) for this here BBC opus. In front of 1,400 invited fans they cut deep, surprisingly, with the two 45s and ‘War. They moved and sweated like it was their first break, danced demonically until they overcame the miming and obnoxious audience whoops, not to mention the smarmy producer crawling “Dance like this is the best time of yer life and Ill kiss you all, etc, etc,” you understand. Hustling through drunken jokes about cancer and the like from Alana Twin and Paul and Nash, Frankie backup boys, I tracked down Holly Johnson to answer all my burning queries. Give us a quote! He did …

I think this whole BBC event has been blown out of proportion, it seems we cant breathe without making news these days. Its not as if were playing live,” he said, lifting his menacing shades while showing off his new Nikes. Sharp clothes, sharp brain! … But are Frankie saying anything? In an agitprop city like Liverpool there seems to be a lack of hard-edge bands. ‘Two Tribes, lyrics aside, could be an Adam Ant song.

“We havent forgotten Britains jobless, wed like to try and uplift the kids in the dole queues. We were there once and know only too well what its like. But there are some great bands from the city. Echo are my favourite band, in fact.”

HAD LIVERPOOL influenced hem in a lasting way?

“Well, its been a fundamental influence,obviously, on our whole lives. I love the place, the people, growing up in it, everything about it. Its full of strong characters. Ive never seen London as the centre of the universe, I dont think theres much talent coming from there.” More rabbit than Watership Down! Cheek! And what about the power of clever Trevor Horn?

“Trevor is very clever, but the initial inspiration was always ours. Trevor reacted to our ideas, hes very good, but so is Michael Jacksons producer Quincy Jones and no-one says he does it all.”

Is there a Frankie message? I dont se any answers there.

“Peopl shouldnt take us too seriously, we say try to have a good time every minute of the day. We just want to give pleasure, entertain and have fun doing it. We have a bold image and stand out from the crowd, but I dont think were outrageous. Also, we take time over our releases, we want to maintain a level of quality.”

Ever straghter go the groups, from A to Zzzzzzzz in career terms. Whither the leather jockstrap?

“We decided we didnt look good in leather,” hefudges, “and also it sticks and smells.” That never stopped Jim Morrison.

“Actually, I like ruber myself,” Holly chortles.

p>How far are they involved in the capitalism of these eternal re-mixes that keep on emerging?

“Really, from the performance level. Then we eave it and the record company or producer remix it and release it to their taste. But Im not really interested after the product has been out, though I do find it interesting to hear different versions. I forget about it and move on to ideas for the next project.”

Which is?/p>

“The album, ere working hard on it at the moment, called ‘Welcome To The Pleasure Dome. And the next single, whichll be out before Christmas, but Im not at liberty to tell you too much about it. I cant give too much away.”

Total control, h? Whats this pleasure dome, like, Frankie Goes To Coleridge?

“Its a fantasy place wher you can do what you like. Itll be the album of 1984, its something very dear to our hearts.”

Will the musica vein be the same as the 45s?

“I wouldnt say that. There are some lesscommercial tracks on it, not so driven with the disco beat to capture people on the dance floor, lots of different textures … It should have quite an epic feel to it.”

HOW ABOUT the rumour that you plan to remix and censor yer aural sleaze elements?

“Well, there was an idea of doing that for a joke, something ridiculous like that, but I dont think theyll actually do it. There might possibly be a different version of ‘Relax, maybe an orchestrated version, on the album.”

Hum. Aint you gonna kep up this getting-banned stuff as a sales drive?

“Well,” he sighs, “thatwas never our intention. Maybe to stimulate, but not to outrage. I didnt think sex and the threat of nuclear war shocked people anymore, I just thought it was an informative thing rather than an innovative thing. I hope we entertain people but I dont know other than that.”

Its good to see you in the sticks, but hsnt all the hype caused a lotta heartache when kids turn up from miles around only to get a short, mimed show? He pauses.

“Weve ut quite a lot of heartache into getting here, so maybe things are quite equal in that respect.” As Holly zips up his wayward fly amid sudden laffter, he looks towards a two and a half month conquering of America. To what does he attribute the mass success?

“Class! I thik people are taking us too seriously. Our music is something that satisfies something inside, it moves, disturbs, titillates, with that slight quirk or twist. Something deep inside. Franie says eat me!!