ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

(MCA, 24 mins)

Its not every pop star — although the idea appeals — who has resorted to court to argue that actually he is quite talented, and perhaps understandably, Holly Johnson has played it fairly safe since the acrimonious bust-up with ZTT. For £7.99 — Im sorry, that should be for “only £7.99" this video offers Love Train, Americanos, Atomic City twice, as it reappears as the “enviro-mental” 12-inch mix, and Heavens Here. Inoffensive songs matched with unimaginative visuals, with none of the cheek, wit or power of the finest Frankie moments.

Compare, for example, Relax with the black and white snogging of Heavens Here; very Athena posters, very heterosexual and tasteful, very dull. Elsewhere Holly goes “ridin the love train” with some unoriginal animation, while Americanos shows less imagination than most ads for “blue jeans and chinos”, with some tame satire about TV game shows. Both versions of Atomic City feature Richard OBrien as guest and musical echoes of Yello and, indeed, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, with Hollys vocals floating over an immaculately layered mix. But really to take the idea of 1999, apocalypse party now, and then add astonishingly banal lyrics (radiation rhymed with power station, “Beat the system with your points of view” and so on), and some tired Max Maxish bits, is not enough to deliver the promised blast. ☆☆

Duncan Webster