ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”


Label: ZTT
Composers: Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Producer: Trevor Horn
Released: November 1983
Chark Peak: 1 (UK), 10 (US)
Available On: Greatest Hits Of… (ZTT)

When I heard this it plunged me into a pit of despair. The production was so good, the sounds so classy that it seemed to move the entire recording business up a gear — we were all left floundering, trying to catch up.Gary Numan

“I think it had the most spunky, raving vocal performance on record for years,” opines singer Holly Johnson; no call for modesty about a two-million seller. Still, despite subsequent differences, he allows that producer Trevor Horns hi-tech Fairlight expertise was no hindrance. Relax came to Johnson one day in 1982 when he was late for rehearsals, “walking fast down the central reservation of Princes Avenue dual carriageway in Liverpool”. That Novemher, Frankie played it on The Tube Horn was watching, and soon signed them to his new label, ZTT.

Recording proved less brisk. “We were three months in Sarm West before Trevor was satisfied,” Johnson recalls. “He was so nervous about his labels first release he scrapped two complete versions. It cost £30,000 while I was travelling back to Liverpool every week to sign on.” Relax took 10 weeks to top the chart, but Johnson emphasises that it was already Number 2 before Radio 1 DJ Mike Read spotted its rude implications and had it banned into instant succés de scandale: “It was a bold dance-rock-disco hybrid, very intense. Everyone wanted to make it a great record, no expense spared.” (PS)