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Inside The Pleasuredome / Trevor Horn Q&A and Frankie playback

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Legendary producer Trevor Horn delighted 60 lucky Frankie Goes To Hollywood fans last night by talking in detail about his work with the group in the very room where Relax and many other of the band’s hits were created.

Sarm Studios in West London was the venue for the special playback event which was hosted by Classic Album Sundays‘ Colleen Murphy. All four sides of Frankie’s 1984 debut album Welcome To The Pleasuredome were played (loudly) on an appropriately expensive turntable and hi-fi system after Trevor had been interviewed and entertained his audience with anecdotes and musical insights. We learned for example how third UK number one, The Power of Love, went from the key of E to F as a result of speeding up the track by a semitone and how Relax was changed key to E minor which in the words of Horn turned it into something “big and sad”.

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Trevor Horn takes his seat next to Classic Album Sunday’s Colleen Murphy

Paul Morley, who helped run the ZTT label, was unable to attend in person, but had sent a video message he’d prepared earlier. The ex-journalist reminisced about the era and reflected on the budgets available to help market the music. He told us how he spent £5,000 for David Frost to do the voiceover for a Frankie Goes To Hollywood advert specifically so that he could say “Hello, Good Evening and Welcome…. to the Pleasuredome“!

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Paul Morley’s video message was typically pithy and amusing

After the music Trevor Horn was joined by studio cohorts Stephen Lipson (engineer, guitarist, and producer of Frankie’s Liverpool) and J.J. Jeczalik (programmer, Fairlight wizard and Art of Noise member) and the three gents had much fun ribbing each other and contradicting the other’s version of events. One fact they did agree on was that three months were indeed spent working on the title track Welcome To The Pleasuredome, with Trevor pointing out that “we had the job sheets for every day” to prove it. JJ’s fellow Art of Noise bandmate Gary Lagan was also in attendance and was watching from the wings. 

There was much laughter as Steven Lipson recalled how on the eve of an important Frankie Goes To Hollywood live appearance on UK TV’s The Tube, the roadie charged with bringing some important bit of kit turned up at Newcastle-under-Lyme 200 miles away from Newcastle-upon-Tyne where the show was filmed!

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“That’s not what happened…”  – The three wise men, Stephen Lipson, J.J. Jeczalik and Trevor Horn reminisce

An audience question about how music is delivered today prompted Horn to declare that MP3s were so bad he “almost preferred cassettes”, while J.J.’s view was that as broadband speeds improved it would be easier to deliver better quality audio.

The evening ended with fans staying behind to get their copies of Welcome To The Pleasuredome and Relax signed by Trevor with some grabbing a photo opportunity. This writer also managed to get a photo at the mixing desk where so many great records have been made.

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“is this the volume control?” – your correspondent in the Sarm Studios control room. Photo by DJ Food / Strictly Kev.

The Sarm Studios complex will be closing its doors soon, so it is very much the end of an era – one where record labels had both the budget an the inclination to use massive recording studio facilities. As everyone filed out after a truly memorable evening, we were left to reflect that there will probably not be another band quite like Frankie Goes To Hollywood and that the perfect storm that fused the raw energy and appeal of the group to the production talents and marketing skills of Horn and ZTT would be impossible to recreate.

Inside The Pleasuredome an “Ultra-Deluxe” limited edition 30th anniversary box set of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome is available to purchase via PledgeMusic.

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SDE Editor Paul Sinclair can’t refuse Trevor’s request for a photo…

A few more photos…

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24 responses to Inside The Pleasuredome / Trevor Horn Q&A and Frankie playback

  1. Si says:

    Looked like a very special night indeed … looking forward to box and hearing the new remasters too. This whole project has really been done with alot of thought, love and creativity. Seems like the passing of an era too, with such Studios going. It’s such a shame that new bands will never really know the same nurturing and work in the studio. I mean 3 months hard work on one track, that really is something. If a band or artist doesn’t make top 5 these days with a single or album, they are pretty much dropped.

    With many classic bands of the 60/70/80 even 90’s, it took several attempts and a few releases before hitting the big time, with alot of hard work all round. With a good budget and professional, caring producers and engineers. Whom really cared for their craft and would go that extra mile. Not saying it doesn’t exist now, but there is so much more pressure to deliver a hit, fast and get the money back in quick, with little re-investment in up and coming new acts.

    So this whole project has been most welcome and a reminder of how things really used to be. That there was place for art and music to co-exist and even flourish. There has been some first class reissues this year, naturally this one, Beatles Mono vinyl and alot of not so great ones too. Lets hope a few more labels take note of how to really put together a really special reissue of a classic album. (Although not too often, it’s getting expensive! Ouch!)

  2. A great review of a very special evening – it was such a treat listening to those 3 chaps. who I have had utmost respect and admiration for for many years. And that was my question about MP3 and streaming quality :)

    Very jealous that you got in the control room – that was the one thing I hoped to see but didn’t get the chance.

    Thanks! Regards, Paul

  3. baward says:

    Great report! A slight shame they couldn’t get Anne Dudley to attend (but then it would have been an AON reunion instead I suppose!)

    Looking forward to my box set in the post – Boris Blank’s ‘Electrified’ is due soon, what an embarrassment of riches…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks! Yes, I don’t think Anne is too interested in stuff like this. I said hello to JJ and Gary Langan though, both of whom signed my “Into Battle” cassette and who I then interviewed a few months later.

  4. johnny says:

    Ha, I know it’s only incidental but those ‘Classic Album Sundays’ try so achingly hard to be cool and trendy…’Listening parties in London, NYC, Tokyo’…Lol…Have a look at their website; they really could hardly be any more utterly desperate to be seen as hip….

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I’d never been to one before, but Colleen was very nice. Her questions were pretty good and she was professional and spoke well in what was probably quite a tense nerve wracking situation. Well done Colleen!

  5. adam shaw says:

    Great report ! I would loved to have been there .
    Cant wait for my box to arrive .

  6. Michael Bird says:

    Do we yet know when the box is due for release? Not that I won’t have an additional, excruciating wait for its journey across the Atlantic as well.

  7. steve browne says:

    Thanks for the write up.

  8. Robert M says:

    The US fans are being locked out of purchasing the box set due to licensing issues. Is there anything in the works that allows US fans to purchase and download the tracks?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Not sure Robert. They’re making 2000 and Pledge is 162% of goal. That percentage isn’t all to do with the box so there could be 500 to 750 boxes that end up being sold through ‘other channels’. In theory at least. What I’m saying is don’t completely write off your chance of getting an actual box at some point.

  9. Baward says:

    Paul, the photo of you by the mixing desk is presumably Studio 1 control room, where the early recordings for ‘Into Battle’ were done, as well as a lot of ‘Duck Rock’ by Malcolm McLaren were done. Obviously a different mixing desk these days. Later, Yes did overdubs for ‘90125’ in the actual studio of Studio 1, which by the looks of it is where this playback event took place.

  10. Mike Williams says:

    Sounds like a superb night, so jealous.

    Well I’ve given in, full box ordered from pledge

  11. Paul B says:

    Nice piece – it’s a real pity however that the band, the people who wrote the songs, will receive absolutely sod all from this reissue – again! Mr Horn – it’s not your music!

  12. Sean Lawler says:

    I wouldn’t call paying £200 lucky ! I really don’t know why the evening couldn’t be streamed to the people like myself who have pledged their hard earned cash but don’t live in London or can afford to visit the centre of the universe ! Did they really need the cash that badly …….

  13. Effers says:

    Off topic- love the t-shirt, Paul, and looking forward to your review of THAT.

  14. ant says:

    like the KT fellowship t-shirt

  15. fisonic says:

    Hi Paul,

    nice to read about the event!

    Regarding a voiceover by David Frost for the album commercial, I think he quoted $50.000 – and also that Paul Morley’s idea didn’t happen due to that amount?
    Regarding changing Relax to E minor, Trevor Horn also said it made the song sound more European. The ‘big and sad’ was even a more general attribution to his productions (tough he did explicitly mention Relax as well), if I recall correctly.

    I agree to your comment above, Colleen Murphey did a really good job hosting the event. She obviously shared true passion for the album!

    As much as I respect Steve Lipson and JJ Jeczalik, I must say they kind of ruined the mood of the evening for me.
    Whilst Trevor was in a good, relaxed and talkative mood, Steve and JJ often destroyed the conversational flow with rather short interjections, before it would have gotten to interesting, more in-depth, thoughts. Steve by playing everything (e.g. his awesome guitar playing) down as if it were nothing special and a why-are-you-all-here/there’s-nothing-to-see-here attitude. JJ by sometimes almost ridiculing things.
    All in all, I found the introductory interview much more worthwhile. (Even though there was not much new, which didn’t get touched in Trevor’s Red Bull Music Academy lecture from 2011.)

    But either way, a very special evening. Big and sad! ;-)
    Joerg

    P.S.: And loud…

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