Thursday, 11 June 2009

Frankie Goes To Hollywood 'Relax'

Chart Peak: 1 (5 weeks)

YouTube [clean version]

It's not that surprising that the band seem to have trouble miming to the track in this video: the reshot one that would have been suitable for television, had the song not been banned entirely by the time it was finished. For one thing, they look pretty hungover, but for another they didn't really make it - by most accounts only the vocals are actually performed by the group on the finished recording, and it's really more Trevor Horn's record than anybody's.

It doesn't really sound like any humans made it at all, though. Back in 1984 I had no idea what this song was about... well, I'm not sure I fully understand it now, but at the time I don't even think I realised it was supposed to be rude. What I mainly remember is that this sounded a bit like something from space. Maybe it was that slap bass sound that reminds me of a springboard (and no, now I've written that down I don't know why there'd be a springboard in space, or how it would work in zero gravity). I wouldn't say I was ever a fan of Horn's production style, but I can admire the achievement here, almost as remarkable as making a Yes record sound mildly interesting.

Nowadays the story of 'Relax' and the cleverness with which outrage was used to publicise it has been told and retold so many times that it's hard to hear the song without it feeling like the punchline to an old joke. It's impressive and irritating in more or less equal measure (as I'm sure was the idea all along) but I wouldn't go out of my way to hear it now.

Also appearing on: Now 3, 26 [this track again], 46
Available on: Bang!...The Greatest Hits of Frankie Goes to Hollywood

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