Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid) wrote,
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator

The first rule about Fight Club is that you don't finish sentences about Fight

Usually when people say that a band is underrated, they are really saying one of a series of more complex things: that the band has largely been forgotten, or that they're better than generally considered, or that they deserve a wider audience, or that they were overhyped and deserve a critical re-assessment, or that they're the butt of jokes or comments about their extra-artistic lives that get in the way of really considering their music, or that they like them more than you do, or something along those lines. But our world loathes nuance, so we have the useless phrase "underrated".

#3 in my infrequent series of band reappraisals, "Up from the Under-rate", is Frankie Goes To Hollywood. A lot of the backlash against them was their own fault: they were largely a studio creation; they spawned a vast sea of FRANKIE SAY marketing tie-in products that obscured their actual work; they pushed their then semi-outrageous gay image at the expense of their music; they left no legacy of quality multiple albums; there were a bunch of people in the band that didn't really do anything; and they were a pretty calculated product of a musical Svengali. But that Svengali was Trevor Horn, who did a masterful production job on their one worthwhile album; Holly Johnson's voice was a stupendous musical instrument that made his dumbest lyrics worth hearing and his smartest lyrics absolutely stunning; and Paul Rutherford did a more than decent job creating high-NRG dance music that perfectly fit the zeitgeist of the time. Their three biggest singles are about as great a sequence of songs as was released by any popular band in the 1980s: “Relax” is still a hugely infectious, irresistible, and sexy-as-hell dance track, “Two Tribes” overcomes its simplistic message with a killer bass hook and some indomitable vocals from Johnson; and “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” is just a massive song, lush and complex and perfectly of its time, yet not dated. FGTH proved to have no longevity, but they were an absolute phenomenon for one double-album, and the greatness of what they did on it shouldn’t be minimized just because they had no staying power.

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