Revolutions per minute
The stories behind the singles that rocked our world
Frankie Goes To Hollywood “The Power of Love”
“THE POWER Of LOVE” was Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s third single and third consecutive No 1. Not since Gerry & The Pacemakers in 1963 had a band reached pole position with their first three singles. Frankie had already entered the history books with its two predecessors. “Relax”, the BBC banned debut with the entreaties to “suck” and “come”, became the UK’s sixth all-time biggest selling single. “Two Tribes” was next. A blast of hi-NRG Armageddon, it occupied the top slot for nine weeks during summer ‘84, where it was joined by “Relax”, which climbed back to No 2 for the whole of July—
So they’d done sex and war. How was the most outrageous band since The Sex Pistols going to sustain the shock and awe? By issuing a ballad, accompanied by a seasonal video (directed by Godley & Creme) that referenced the birth of Christ. And by scoring that third No 1. This their label, Zang Tuum Tumb, managed by sneaking it into the shops one week ahead of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” And so it was that, on December 1, 1984, Frankie made history.
The sumptuous packaging for “The Power Of Love” encouraged multiple-purchase. One 12-inch version was an elaborate gatefold affair showing the five Frankies praying. Another came in a white cardboard envelope featuring an array of pink crucifixes as well as the exhortation “Thou Shall Not Bend” with quotations from obscure French philosophers courtesy of ZTT agent provocateur Paul Morley. “The Power Of Love” was given a suitably epic treatment by Trevor Horn, while Anne Dudley, who had worked on ABC’s The Lexicon Of Love, provided strings. And yet it was not as far removed from the demo, as aired the year before on the John Peel show, as critics who deemed the band puppets of the ZTT regime might have imagined. “It was the first single that the band played in its entirety,” Horn tells Uncut “Relax”, notoriously, had originally been performed by Ian Dury’s Blockheads. Horn explains that Brian “Nasher” Nash (guitar), Mark O’Toole (bass) and Peter “Ped” Gill (drums) laid down the basic track at the Sarm West studio in Kensington, over which Holly Johnson crooned evocatively about hooded claws, vampires and sky-scraping doves. Paul Rutherford’s contribution, as ever, was harder to assess.
Frankie’s pop hegemony ended abruptly in March 1985 when fourth single “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” was kept off No 1 by Phil Bailey and Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover”. From a Bang! to a whimper.
DID YOU KNOW? By recording a message of support for the B-side of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, Holly Johnson appeared on two consecutive No 1 hits by different artist—