Welcome to the Pleasuredome
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Featuring the US Top Ten hit 'Relax', Welcome To The Pleasuredome was originally released in 1984 and also features the hit singles 'Two Tribes' and 'The Power Of Love'. Shaped by label owner and producer Trevor Horn, the album melds driving rock rhythms to hardcore dance beats, infused with glam, punk and disco influences. With interest in the 80's riding high, the Frankie's music is regularly featured in movies, including Zoolander, Charlies Angels 2, Glitter, Eurotrip and the forthcoming Must Love Dogs. Tracks have also featured on new DVD releases, including Miami Vice, Hunter, Gilmore Girls and The Simpsons. False Tuned. 2005.
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However, when US production of this CD started, the CD booklet and even the silk screen printing on the disc remained the same, but the actual CONTENT of the disc was replaced by the US version of the album, which instead has a 3:27 version of "Two Tribes" and which replaces the song "Happy Hi" with "San Jose" as track 10.
There is literally NO WAY that I know of to tell if the disc is the correct one without putting the disc in a player and playing track 10 to see if it is "San Jose" or not.
I have purchased and have had to return more than one copy of this disc for this reason; sellers CANNOT TELL if their copy is the correct one solely by looking at the CD packaging and disc itself.
What a courage it must have demanded to issue a concept album, a long story split into songs, as a debut. Why don't these bands ever last longer? »Welcome To The Pleasuredome« has it all: One of the most beautiful ballads ever performed, »The Power Of Love«; great covers: »Born To Run«, »San José«, »Fury«, »War«; the sexy experimental »The Ballad Of 32«... plus, of course, the outstanding hit classics »Two Tribes« and »Relax«.
Furthermore, this import CD contains two interviews which were included on maxi(vinyl)singles.
So... »Welcome To The Pleasuredome«!! Frankie say... no more.
[A little remark for amazon.com: Your computer predicted I'd give this great album one star... based on the fact that I've given Madonna's »Music« one star!! Well, what's the comparison!??!?!]
The audio on this remastered edition is simply amazing, especially compared to the flat sound of the original CD release(s). You really get to appreciate the amazing production on this album now, with higher highs and lower lows. The audio has really been cleaned-up and is now crisp and clear. Play it loud, or pop on a good pair of headphones and enjoy!
As for the album itself, what can be said? It has much more to offer than just its well-known single releases (Relax, Two Tribes, The Power Of Love). It's a true 80's classic, and an enduring tribute to the talents of the band and their producer, Trevor Horn. For audiophiles, this a true masterpiece (and master class) of recording and production from the pre-digital era. Glad to see it finally get the CD release/remaster treatment it deserves.
Having said all of this, Welcome to the Pleasuredome is a classic release for its first half before becoming hit and miss the rest of the way. The tribal title track, all 13 minutes and 40 seconds of it, is fantastic, and a video would later gain some MTV airplay albeit in a much shorter version. "Relax" is a classic, one of the catchiest and most risqué songs of the 80's. "Two Tribes" is even better. Led by its kinetic bass line and a manic energetic beat, it is simply one of the most exciting songs to hit the charts. And the video, which features Ronald Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko (thanks for the correction, Patrick) battling it out in a sand pit with the band and other world leaders looking on, has to be seen to be believed. While not on the level of the original versions, covers of Edwin Starr's "War" and Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" are also very good. The moody instrumental "The Ballad of 32" and the ballad "The Power of Love", which would also hit #1 in the U.K., are strong tracks and add some diversity. However, songs like "Krisco Kisses", "Wish the Lads Were Here", and "The Only Star In Heaven", while maintaining the energy of "Relax" and "Two Tribes", are decent at best. The versions of "Ferry across the Mersey" and "San Jose" also don't stand out. All told, Welcome to the Pleasuredome is a very good album from a band that would shine like the sun for just a moment but would not be forgotten.
The result was WELCOME TO THE PLEASURE DOME, and released with tremendous hype the record leaped to the top of the English charts with the singles "Relax," "When Two Tribes Go To War," and "The Power of Love." The band was soon popular in the USA as well, and t-shirts proclaiming "Frankie Says Relax" were suddenly ubiquitious.
FRANKIE's time in the public eye equated to Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame; their second release was a flop, singer Holly Johnson left, and the band fell apart. But somewhat oddly, WELCOME TO THE PLEASURE DOME has left an unexpected afterglow: both singles and remixes have remained very popular in dance clubs, and remixes of "Relax" and "The Power of Love" actually returned to the English charts in 1993--nine years after the songs first debuted.
In many ways the recording is indicative of 1980s excess. At least two of the band members were openly gay and the band tended to present itself as an exercise in homosexual hedonism; the lyrics to "Relax" were so explicit that it was among the most often banned-from-radio songs of it era, and the video that accompanied it was so hot that it too was banned and a much tamer substitute video was created in order to get MTV airplay. Listening to PLEASURE DOME today one finds it no less explicit than it was twenty years ago. One also finds just as strange as it was when it first exploded onto the charts.
Much of the recording might best be described as musical collage. One song seques into another with odd bits and pieces coloring in the lines between each cut; there are bird sounds; narrative readings; and a host of other oddities. "Well," "The World Is My Oyster," "Snatch of Fury," and the title "Welcome To The Pleasure Dome" feel like one extend piece, bouncing from blunt to sharp. "Relax," the song for which FRANKIE was and is still best known, remains as intense, pulsing, and sexually hot as ever; and "Two Tribes" has considerable power and sharpness. "The Power of Love," one of the few ballad-like pieces the band did, is also very memorable.
The album as a whole--well, let's put it this way. You really have to be in the mood. Holly Johnson does nice covers of "Ferry Cross The Mersey," "Born to Run," and "Do You Know The Way to San Jose," but I wouldn't describe any of these as besting the originals so much as being new takes on old favorites. Some of the pieces are basically fluff filler expertly performed, with "Krisco Kisses," "Black Night White Light," and "The Only Star in Heaven" cases in point. Even so, it is hard to dismiss FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD as purely style over substance, as some have done; in many ways, it is as fresh today as it was when it first came out.
There are two versions of WELCOME TO THE PLEASURE DOME. This particular edition includes seventeen tracks and is essentially the recording as it was first released; a later version includes expanded tracks but, at least according to friends who have heard it, does so at the expense of the "bleed" between tracks. Both, however, seem to include what most people think of the essential three: "Relax," "Two Tribes," and "The Power of Love."
It's an odd recording, glitchy, strange, and one people seem to either really like or completely loathe. But the musicianship, production, and Holly Johnson's vocals are uniquely powerful and appealing. Flawed, absolutely; recommended just the same.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer