Welcome To The Pleasuredome

Frankie Goes To Hollywood

ZTT / Island Records, 1984


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Back in 1984, Frankie Goes To Hollywood discovered that scandal was the best form of popularity. Their single "Relax" had been banned by the BBC, leading to people scooping it up out of the stores and helping it hit the top of the charts. Thanks to music video stations in America, people like myself got interested in the band.

Of course, being 13 years old (meaning I was young and stupid), I had no idea that the song espoused gay sex (or so the stories say). Blissfully ignorant, I trudged down to the local record store and dropped two weeks' allowance on their double-LP debut Welcome To The Pleasuredome. Fourteen years after it came out (and 10 years since the band broke up under tense circumstances), it remains a decent, but incomplete, first effort that still holds a lot of pleasure.

Of the four sides of this album, the one that will interest most people is side two, which features the two hits "Relax" and "Two Tribes". Frankly, I could care less what "Relax" is about (though lines like "Shoot it in the right direction" now are a bit clearer to me), fact is that it's still a great song with a danceable beat that rivals much of today's dance music. Likewise, "Two Tribes," a statement against nuclear war, possibly was even a better song than "Relax" was - it's certainly more complicated musically. (I could, however, have lived without the discussion of orgasm about 15 seconds after "Two Tribes" ended.) The other song on this side, a cover of Edwin Starr's "War," is an interesting modern take on the song that is just as powerful as the rest of the music on this part of the album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Welcome To The Pleasuredome also featured some highly experimental music. The whole first side could be seen as one song, even though it was broken up into parts like "The World Is My Oyster" for no apparent reason. The title track is a tour de force of electronic, dance and rock music that takes some time to really get into, but is worth the effort and time. (The whole side only takes about 15 minutes, so it's not like you have to book out a whole weekend to get into it.)

Unfortunately, a good portion of the second half of Welcome To The Pleasuredome is either cover versions or filler. It's not that the cover versions are bad - "Born To Run" and "San Jose (The Way)" both stay pretty true to the original versions, while "Ferry", a version of Gerry And The Pacemakers' "Ferry 'Cross The Mersey," would have been better had it been the whole version. Lead singer Holly Johnson gently delivered the vocals on this one, even more so than the original.

The remaining music, such as "Krisco Kisses," "Wish (The Lads Were Here)" and "The Power Of Love," don't live up to the stronger material that makes up the first half of the album. And one has to wonder what the sound bite on the background of "Including The Ballad Of 32" is really of -it's some kind of sexual activity. The album's closer, "bang...", seems to bring the whole concept - album and group - to a solid conclusion. (Frankie Goes To Hollywood would bring out one more album, Liverpool.)

This is still a very good album, though it could have easily been just a single album and been just as strong. Still, once you plow through the filler, Welcome To The Pleasuredome proves to still be a worthwhile album to search out and pick up. (Last time I heard, this one is out of print.)

Rating: B-

User Rating: A



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of ZTT / Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.