There is no mistaking, especially if you follow this blog, that 2014 is choc full of anniversaries. Is there something about the fourth year of a decade that spawns greatness and controversy? I’m sure the Archduke Franz Ferdinand would say so, particularly as today, as I write this, is the 100th anniversary of him swallowing some Bosnian-Serb lead and kicking off the most brutal and devastating war ever.
Coincidentally, it is another Franz, or Frankie, that is also celebrating a special anniversary on this fourth year of the decade. You may have already seen my articles on 30 years of ZTT and the 30th anniversary of ‘Two Tribes’ and so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that, as we approach the 30th anniversary of the release of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s seminal début album, ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’, those clever sods at ZTT have conjured up a worthy celebration in the form of ‘Inside The Pleasuredome’, a lavish box set described as an ‘ultra-edition’ that aims to provide somewhat of a definitive edition of this audacious first long player.
The two key gentlemen behind this project, Ian Peel (audio & video content) and Kevin Foakes (artwork and design), are, by their own admission, massive FGTH fans. Ian has, during his time working for ZTT, sought to exploit the back catalogue of the band in a way that provides fans with what they want and at the same time, continue the tradition of ZTT releases being multi-faceted, mysterious and exciting titles. There have been a few hiccups along the way, such as the release of ‘SexMix’ and what is now known as ‘Mono-gate’. This has, amongst other things, made ZTT, and Ian on occasion, the target for some pretty vociferous and, at times, nasty comments on various message boards and forums. It seems there are fans who want to consume whatever can be found in the vaults, and others who seem to, strangely and out of some bizarre loyalty to the band members and the resulting sycophancy that such misguided loyalty brings, dismiss it all as a cash grabbing, barrel scraping exercise. I don’t want to get into a debate about what the label does or doesn’t “owe” the band members here because I don’t have all the facts. If truth be told, very few people do. It seems that the band members are not consulted on any of these reissues or compilations of previously unreleased material, nor, if what they say is true, are they remunerated particularly well, if at all, but do still possess the right to veto the content. We could discuss the morality and legality of such things for a long time but, as a fan myself, with the utmost respect for the band, the label, the production team and everyone else involved, it’s a shame that everyone can’t just reach some common ground and join in the celebration of, what is in many people’s opinion, one of the greatest album’s of the 80s and one of the most diverse and brave début long players released in a very long time.
Kevin Foakes, also known as DJ Food, is another lifelong Frankie fan/obsessive with whom I share a great deal in common when it comes to the appreciation of all that emanated from The Blue Building on Basing Street. Kevin is a multi-talented individual; a musician, DJ, producer, remixer and artist of some repute. He is now the sole caretaker of the DJ Food moniker, a name that was used by Ninja Tune records to denote a collective of DJs and producers who would put out mixes and tunes as sustenance for other DJs, hence the name DJ Food. Over the years, all have moved on, leaving Kevin as the sole perpetrator, and a fine job he is doing too. Another of his many activities includes running a website called artofztt.com, a name you will probably be familiar with if you’ve read other ZTT related articles here, as he very kindly allows me to display much of his collection in my posts. The concept of the site is to collect, collate, categorise, restore and deliver to the public, free of charge, the myriad pictures, articles, adverts, posters, record sleeves and other associated pieces of ZTT related material. As with Ian, this sometimes leads to Kevin being subjected to personal online attacks, accusing him of trying to take ownership of stuff that isn’t his, but I can testify to the fact that Kevin does this for no monetary gain (he pays for the site out of his own money) and he does this so that EVERYONE can benefit. He doesn’t claim ownership, but appreciates a modicum of recognition for the research, preservation and presentation of this stuff that might ultimately have disappeared forever. No one seems to thank him for that. Well, thank you Kev. I, for one, appreciate everything you do.
Anyway, what is going on with this box set? Well, for the first time in ZTT’s history, they have approached this project as a crowd-funded campaign. Right now, nothing physically exists, except for mock ups and lots of words. But, if the pledge total is reached (it is currently at 99%), what we can expect is the following:
Inside a beautifully designed 12”-sized, 2.5”-deep box with lift-off lid and foam fitments, it will contain ten bespoke elements, the first five of which are exclusive to the box set and will not be sold separately:
1. “Come Inside” – The entry-point into the Pleasuredome experience, via a unique flipbook animation of Lo Cole’s classic artwork.
2. Tumbometer Nine – A Zang Tuum Tumb info sheet detailing everything you’ll find Inside The Pleasuredome, where it came from and why it’s there. Plus a complete listing of the Element Series, past, present and future.
3. “And Suddenly There Came A Zang!” – The Art of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. A stunning 48-page case-bound hardback book celebrating and exploring the artwork of Welcome To The Pleasuredome, with contributions from Paul Morley, designer David Smart, illustrators Lo Cole and Anne Yvonne Gilbert and photographers John Stoddart, Steve Rumney, AJ Barratt and Peter Ashworth.
4. “Brothers and Sisters” – The DVD. Compiling the Pleasuredome videos – Relax, Two Tribes, The Power of Love and Welcome To The Pleasuredome by directors Godley & Creme, Bernard Rose and David Mallett – and 5.1 surround sound audio mixes of the classic singles and album tracks. This is a double disc with NTSC region 0 on one side and PAL region 0 on the other.
5. “Voiceless, Volume 1” – The Instrumentals. A five track FLAC digital EP with previously unreleased instrumental versions of 7” and 12” mixes.
NOTE: this is exclusive to Pledgers.
6. “Cowboys and Indians” – The Alternate Tracks. A four-track EP that explores the making of Frankie’s second single, with two previously unreleased takes of Two Tribes and one of WAR on 10” vinyl in die-cut sleeve
7. “Lovers and Haters” – The Studio Demos. A four-track EP tracing the story of two of the earliest tracks recorded for Welcome To The Pleasuredome, with two previously-unreleased takes of Relax and two previously-unreleased versions of The Only Star In Heaven. 10″ vinyl in die-cut sleeve
8. “Doctors and Nurses” – The Remixes. A pairing of the third 12” mix of War! (which went on to become the Art of Noise track, Oobly) with an alternate 12” version of Welcome To The Pleasuredome, both previously unreleased. 10” vinyl in die-cut sleeve
9. “Suck It Up” – The Relax Cassette. A 13-track, C90 remix anthology. From the 16-minute Sex Mix to Trevor Horn’s New York Mix, via six previously unreleased versions.
10. “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” – The 2014 Vinyl Edition. The original 16-track album, remastered at Sarm Studios by Trevor Horn and his 2014 THeam, pressed on 180g audiophile vinyl and packaged in a unique die-cut sleeve designed to frame one of three accompanying prints by original Pleasuredome sleeve artist, Lo Cole.
With each Box you will also get a FLAC digital download of all the music.
The first 100 Pledgers will have their Box Set signed by Trevor Horn.
The musical and video content has been finalised and the track-listing is as follows:
“Welcome To The Pleasuredome” – 2014 12” Vinyl Edition
A1 Well…. 0:55
A2 The World Is My Oyster 1:02
A3 Snatch Of Fury (Stay) 0:36
A4 Welcome To The Pleasure Dome 12:58
B1 Relax (Come Fighting) 3:56
B2 War (…. And Hide) 6:12
B3 Two Tribes (For The Victims Of Ravishment) 3:23
C1 Ferry (Go) 1:49
C2 Born To Run 3:56
C3 San Jose (The Way) 3:09
C4 Wish (The Lads Were Here) 2:48
C5 Including The Ballad Of 32 4:47
D1 Krisco Kisses 2:57
D2 Black Night White Light 4:05
D3 The Only Star In Heaven 4:16
D4 The Power Of Love 5:28
D5 Bang 1:08
“Lovers and Haters” – Studio Sessions
A1: Relax (04.09.83: Rough Mix) *
A2: Relax (10.09.83: CMI Backing Track) *
B1: The Only Star In Heaven (29.08.84: ’Gary’s Mix’ with Keys and BD) *
B2: The Only Star In Heaven (29.08.84: ’Gary’s Mix’ Dub Bits) *
“Cowboys and Indians” – Alternate Takes
A1: Two Tribes (04.10.84: Bit 4) *
A2: War (04.10.84: Man Has a Sense for the Discovery of Beauty) *
B1: Two Tribes (31.05.84: Rough 12” Mix) *
B2: Two Tribes (01:06:84: Rough 12” Mix) *
“Doctors and Nurses” – Mix/Remix
A1: War (17.05.84: ‘War! III’) *
B1: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (10.08.84: ‘Pleasuredome II’) *
Relax (C90 singlette)
A1: Relax (Bit 1) *
A2: Relax (Sex Mix)
A3: Relax (New York Mix)
A4: Relax (Greatest Bits)
A5: One September Monday (Bit 1) *
B1: Relax (Bit 2) *
B2: Relax (Sex Mix, Edition 2)
B3: Relax (Sex Mix, Edition 3)
B4: Relax (Video Version) *
B5: One September Monday (Bit 2) *
B6: Relax (Greek Disco Mix)
B7: Relax (The Last Seven Inches!)
B8: Relax (Bonus, Again)
B9: Relax (Bit 3) *
“Brothers and Sisters” (DVD)
1.01: Relax (Version 1)
1.02: Relax (Live Version)
1.03: Relax (Laser Version)
1.04: Two Tribes (Version 1
1.05: Two Tribes (Video Destruction)
1.06: The Power Of Love (Version 1)
1.07: The Power Of Love (Version 2)
1.08: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (An Alternative To Reality)
1.09: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (The Escape Act)
1.10: Relax – No 1 and Guiltless (Version 1)
1.11: Relax – No 1 and Guiltless (Version 2)
1.12: The Power Of Love (Win Hearts And Minds)
1.13: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (The Event Of The Decade)
2.01: Relax (5.1 Mix)
2.02: Two Tribes (5.1 Mix)
2.03: Ferry Cross The Mersey (5.1 Mix)
2.04: The World Is My Oyster (5.1 Mix)
2.05: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (5.1 Mix)
2.06: San Jose (5.1 Mix)
2.07: War (5.1 Mix)
2.08: Born To Run (5.1 Mix)
2.09: The Power Of Love (5.1 Mix)
“Voiceless, Volume 1” (Digital EP)
1: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (A Remade World, Voiceless) *
2: War (Hide Yourself!, Voiceless) *
3: Two Tribes (Carnage 7”, Voiceless) *
4: Relax (Come Fighting, Voiceless) *
5: The Power Of Love (Voiceless)
As well as the box set, a few of the individual elements are available as separate items, such as the 10″ vinyl and the cassette. At the launch of the campaign, a limited number of test pressings were also made available but sold out very quickly, as did a limited number of copies of the studio album on vinyl, signed by Trevor Horn.
So, I think you will agree that this is a pretty comprehensive release and there is enough unreleased content as well as hard to find material in here, not to mention the inclusion of the sumptuous artwork book and new designs.
The pledge campaign hit the 50% mark in two days and now, just 5 weeks later, at the time of publishing, it sits at 99% pledged. Impressive, and one in the eye for the detractors, I’d say I realise that a comment like that will simply garner references to docile sheep being fucked over by an evil corporate plan to rinse me of all my cash in exchange for ill-gotten gains and little more than the detritus of the ZTT vault. However, and in lieu of actually seeing and hearing this stuff, the contents look incredibly good value, considering the complete box is a mere £85. Compare that to recent “ultra-deluxe” box sets (I’m looking in your direction, Oasis) and you’re getting a shit load more for £30 less!
Unfortunately, this box set hasn’t been without its ‘scandals’! On May 21st, when the set was announced, the description promised the inclusion of a much sought after Frankie track, namely their version of ‘Slave To The Rhythm’. It is well known that the song that eventually became Grace Jones’ signature tune was first trialled by Frankie as a potential second single, and has never seen the light of day officially, although a bit of online digging will get you a few versions, most of which are fan mixes and therefore fake. Strangely though, approximately two hours later, that part of the description was pulled from the pledge page, and some people cottoned on to this very quickly. And, as sure as night follows day, the conspiracies and bad feeling started to seep out with people accusing ZTT of baiting. Now, I’ve not heard an official explanation, but it would appear that, as has happened on a few occasions previously, the band, who seem to have a veto on what unreleased content gets released, may have withdrawn their support for this. In fact, Brian Nash has repeatedly stated that the track is not worthy and unrepresentative and will never see the light of day, having simply existed as a demo. Whilst I understand and respect this, there is a clear demand to hear this track and I’m not sure if the aforementioned reason is the only issue here. But I’m speculating, and there’s enough of that going on already. I’ve heard it and, whilst not a patch on the Grace Jones finished article that surfaced a year later, it’s pretty good and highly interesting. Suffice to say, Slave To The Rhythm, the Frankie version, won’t be on here.
And an interesting fact revealed itself to me just the other day. One of the largest ‘online collectives’ of Frankie & ZTT fans, where a good number of people support this release, but a small minority don’t and choose to vilify ZTT and, for some strange reason, Trevor Horn for robbing and raping the band for all they can, has a membership of less than 400 people. That’s less than half the total number of pledgers. As the kids say… nuff said.
I think some people seem to forget that the whole Frankie phenomenon was made up of a number of elements. The band, the image, the music, the production, the marketing and the hype. ALL of these things created Frankie Goes To Hollywood and all of them relied on each other to succeed. When I say I’m a Frankie fan, it is all those elements that I am a fan of. Frankie, above everything else, was an experience.
I, for one, am very excited about this. I’ve pledged and cannot wait to have this set and indulge in its many facets.
You can pledge for the box and other items here…
Pledging closes on July 27th at which point, as long as 100% has been pledged, the items will enter into production with a release date scheduled for October 2014.