23. relax [the long version]

“I first heard this astoundingly epic remix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax at Vancouver’s best dance club ever, the Luv Affair. It would’ve been 1984, I guess, at a time that many were saying it was already past its true glory. Because the club had become too populated with so-called breeders, was no longer a strictly gay and/or bi and/or trans situation. But I’d argue this made 1984 its true peak, because of those breeders (myself included), because this was the moment when the various compulsions all balanced each other, when no particular tribe held sway, sexually, politically, spiritually, philosophically (am I missing anything here?), yet all were being heard.  Felt anyway. In the music. And holy f*** this was good music.

Not that Relax wasn’t profoundly, exquisitely, educationally gay (particularly the extended version). It actually coached us all on the exquisite pleasure of delaying orgasm, of NOT firing all the guns at once … which instantly made it political, because this was a moment in history when the overall consensus (among those who actually thought about things) was that some level of global nuclear cataclysm was no longer an ‘if’ but a ‘when’. Mere minutes to midnight on the doomsday clock. Yet Frankie seemed to be saying, we all just needed to Relax, that yes, we have this climax in us, wanting out, but the more we just lie back, relax, focus on our breathing, the better it all starts to feel. Like maybe the point isn’t to climax, but to find that spot just short of the edge, and ride it to eternity, sheer gushing pleasure to the ends of universe, the right kind of apocalypse. I distinctly remember thinking all this one night at the Luv Affair, dancing, LSD in my veins. And no, it wasn’t lost on me that there already was a gay apocalypse playing out, a horrific one, the one known as AIDS. Everybody knew somebody who was dying or already dead. Hell, we’d soon find the guy who was singing Relax was infected. But all this just catalyzed things, I think, amped the volume, everything to play (and dance) for. Hallelujah!” (Philip Random)

688. Welcome to the Pleasuredome

“1984 was Frankie‘s year (Goes To Hollywood, that is). Nobody had heard of them before. Nobody would ever really care about them after. The root of it, I figure, was a line from Two Tribes (which won’t be on this list because I’m assuming you’ve heard it). ‘Are we living in a land where sex and horror are the new gods?’ The land they were from was England, but given the degree of international success they had, it’s safe to say they were speaking of the whole mad Cold War world. Which put the Pleasuredome everywhere, including spread across the entirety of side one of Frankie’s debut double album.” (Philip Random)

722. dream within a dream

Propaganda are mostly forgotten now, but trust me, this is what 1985 sounded like.  Big, majestic, mysterious, not afraid to explore the darker side of things – a dream within a dream indeed. All credit to the band themselves, who I know nothing about except I think the woman doing the singing was German (maybe they all were). But don’t overlook the guy in the control room, twiddling the dials, pulling it all together – one Trevor Horn who was rather a big deal at the time working with the likes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC, Grace Jones, Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock, not to forget Yes and The Buggles (he was in both of them).  Pop sonic artist of the decade?  There are worse arguments.” (Philip Random)

Propaganda-1985