In a spot of suspiciously useful timing Frankie Goes To Hollywood have just released a new greatest hits compilation in the form of this, Frankie Said. Vintage Christmas number one 'The Power Of Love' takes its position front and centre, just as John Lewis base their latest (predictably massive) Christmas TV ad campaign on a cover version of the same song by singer Gabrielle Aplin.
Frankie Said features a lot of the usual suspects - their first three singles, all of which were UK number ones, actually all feature twice in different guises. And those three singles feel just as fresh now as they ever did. Released as they were through Trevor Horn's ZTT label the focus on production, heavy bass sound and plenty of high-end survives remarkably well, a postcard from a time when hi-fi was something to really aspire to.
It is difficult to over-state just how significant those three singles were. 'Relax' is notorious for sending the BBC into a tizzy after Mike Read twigged what the song was about and ripped the record off the turn table live on air, also disgusted at the overtly sexual artwork - both notoriety and sales by the bucketload followed. 'Two Tribes' was then released while 'Relax' was still in the charts and rather than cannibalising sales it went to number one and seemingly dragged 'Relax' back up to the number two spot. Basically the kind of chart impact that bands dream of these days.
But of course if you don't already have all three of those tracks you will already know them. Part of FGTH's success stemmed from their ability to keep churning out fresh mixes of releases - a fact played with here through the inclusion of multiple mixes. The different version mean that you never quite know what to expect.
There is enough here for those less familiar with the back catalogue to discover - covers of 'War', 'Ferry Across The Mersey' (a tribute to the band's home town of Liverpool) and a live take on Springsteen's 'Born To Run'. Whilst both of the former bring a unique Frankie take to well known records 'Born To Run' is a rather conservative and faithful cover, making it feel like an oddly unnecessary inclusion.
Much of the material included here that is not taken from the band's first album still fails to live up to the band's first four singles (‘Relax', 'Two Tribes', 'The Power Of Love' and 'Welcome To The Pleasuredome'). It's an uncomfortable fact that makes a best of, particularly after a number of earlier compilations, a little hard to swallow. The last greatest hits was released just three years ago, a fact that makes it hard to view this release as little more than a chance to capitalise on potentially renewed interest in the light of that John Lewis ad. The big singles are so good that it's just about forgivable but it would be hard not to view the original Welcome To The Pleasuredome album as superior Christmas gift, particularly if you get the 25th Anniversary edition with some of the bonus mixes.
The instrumental string only version of 'The Power Of Love (Best Listened To By Lovers)' is a bit of a revelation though, showing the sheer strength of the song-writing. It's passionate, stirring and cinematic stuff - fresh from seeing Skyfall I can't help but feel it would have been a far more striking Bond theme than Adele could ever muster.