ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Frankie G T Hollywood

Who said: “Theyre the Beatles of the Eighties, arent they?” No less an authority than Paul McCartney, when asked about Frankie Goes To Hollywood after ‘The Power Of Love became their third consecutive number one hit. Two years on, McCartneys assessment seems over-generous from a musical standpoint, though, statistically at least, the Frankies have left their mark.

Relax and ‘Two Tribes sold over three million copies between them in Britain, giving the Frankies an unprecedented start to their career. ‘Relax started quietly enough, and took 10 weeks to reach number one. Once there, it started to sell in vast quantities, and held on to the top spot for five weeks. Ultimately it sold over 1½ million copies to become one of the 10 best selling singles of all time. ‘Two Tribes was as quick to establish itself as ‘Relax had been slow. It entered the chart at number one.

Band Aid excepted, no other act has landed an instant number one earlier in its career. It was to be nine long weeks before ‘Two Tribes loosened its grip on the chart summit, during which time it also became a million seller. The success of ‘Two Tribes sparked ‘Relax anew, and for two weeks FGTH were number one with ‘Two Tribes and number two with ‘Relax. The only acts to previously fill both of the charts top two berths in the same week were the Beatles and John Lennon.

The success of their first two singles precipitated a spectacular demand for FGTHs first album, the double ‘Welcome To The Pleasure Dome. When it was finally released in November 1984, it had advance orders of over one million copies. Not even the Beatles at their peak had created such demand.

Pleasure Dome duly entered the album chart at number one, a rare feat for a debut album. It did not, however, produce the kind of sales most had expected, and it was a full year before it actually sold a million copies over the counter. Shortly after its release, FGTH gained their third number one single with ‘The Power Of Love.

By the time a remixed version of ‘Welcome To The Pleasure Dome was released as a single, the album of the same name had sold more than 500,000 copies. The single suffered accordingly, peaking at number two.

An extended hiatus followed until finally, just a few weeks ago, Frankie Goes To Hollywood released their fifth single ‘Rage Hard, from the forthcoming album ‘Liverpool. Its their least successful single to date. Debuting at number six, it moved up to number four before peaking.

Even so, it extends their opening sequence of top five singles to five, the best in chart history.

The Frankie phenomenon has been most keenly appreciated in Britain, but ‘Relax in particular was an international smash, selling six million copies as it pushed its way to the top of the charts in a dozen countries. In Germany, where it sold a million, it was number one for six weeks. In America, where it had flopped when first released, it surged into the top 10 when repromoted. ‘Two Tribes was also a massive hit worldwide, selling over three million copies and ‘The Power Of Love also topped a million globally.

Will future generations recognise Frankie Goes To Hollywood as gifted musicians? Not for me to say, squire, but Professor Anton Davidson of Cambridge, an expert in youth culture says: “Their music has no value. If they are to be remembered at all — and I doubt that they will — it will be for creating a new verb, laser beam. It has always been a noun, but on their record ‘Two Tribes they use it as a verb in the sentence “Laser beam me”.