Frankie Goes to Hollywood—Hard On DVD
In the mid-1980s, arguments raged in our playground about whether Frankie Goes to Hollywood were the kings or the killers of great music. The Frankie-haters banged on about something called “integrity”, which roughly meant the ability to strike macho poses and play an electric guitar very quickly while sporting enormous hair.
Frankie represented the shocking antithesis: short hair, a predilection for high camp, and a manufactured sound that relied on no traditional musicianship of any kind.
Watching this DVD retrospective of the band’s promo videos provides hilarious evidence that Frankie were a damn sight more subversive than any contemporary rock band. An undercurrent (indeed an overcurrent) of kinky sado-masochism runs through the films, which feature, in no particular order, male orgies, horny tigers, American and Russian presidents grabbing each other’s crotches and fat naked men wrestling. As a presentation of homosexual liberation, it makes Freddie Mercury look about as risque as Bruce Springsteen.
As for the music, it’s all as preposterous and bombastic as Trevor Horn intended it to be. In these days of genuinely fetid conveyor-belt pop, it is difficult to see how anyone could have had a problem with this lot. Roll on the revival.