Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Frankie Goes To Hollywood 'Two Tribes'

Chart Peak: 1 [9 weeks]

Charted at No. 1 on 12th June - was still there several weeks later in July.
Yes, we're back to the nuclear apocalypse again. It was 1984, after all, and the band's first three singles are sometimes talked of as a trilogy of songs about the big topics: Sex, War and Love. Nine weeks this stayed at the top of the chart, the longest run of the 1980s, and at the time an extraordinary run for a single entering at the top; and in contrast to the infamous Top Of The Pops "ban" of their first single, they appeared on the show nine times with this song. As of 2013, this is probably the least familiar of the three Frankie chart-toppers, behind the signature tune 'Relax' and the recently revived 'Power Of Love'. But it was a massive hit at the time of course, allowing them to join the select club of acts to have two million-selling singles from the same album (others include The Spice Girls and, er, Robson & Jerome) with total sales now over 1.5 million.

Of course, the success of this and every Frankie single was assisted by the large number of remixes and formats issued, and as I discovered last night the version of the track on my copy of Now III is not the most familiar single/video edit but the 'We Don't Want To Die' remix from the 7" picture disc. This mix also showed up on a CD single when 'Two Tribes' was re-issued in 1994, but doesn't seem to have appeared on a widely available album again until last year, so it's a bit of an exclusive though I suspect it may be an accidental one. This mix is rather more guitar-oriented than the famous version and also features a different middle eight and whilst I wouldn't necessarily say either of them was better it makes a refreshing change not to hear the most overplayed version. In fact, I was interested to find that as I listened repeatedly to versions of the track in order to establish exactly what I had, the song grew on me considerably. I'd always thought of it as a showcase for a very dramatic Trevor Horn production with not much of a tune, but after about ten minutes the powerful chant began to hypnotise me and I was really getting into it. For the record, the band themselves dispute exactly how much Horn contributed to the arrangement, citing the very early Peel session as evidence; I don't take a side on this but thought it worth acknowledging the difference of opinion. You don't need me to tell you what the song's about, or probably what it sounds about, nor even to mention the appearance of the late Patrick Allen reading out the sound of the nuclear warning - he had recorded the real thing but of course that couldn't be used on a pop song so he had to redo it and apparently was a great sport about it.

Anyway, this track is better than I used to think it was. But unless something unexpected happens, this is the last we'll hear of them on this blog, just as I was starting to like them.

Also appearing on: Now 1, 2, 26, 46
Available on: Frankie Said

No comments:

Post a Comment