CD Review: ZTT label celebrates 30th anniversary
Thirty years ago, ZTT didn’t so much have its finger on the pulse of pop culture, it was the very pulse itself.
The record label combined all that the 1980s embodied – slick marketing, sharp production and, at its very heart, some truly killer songs.
With production genius Trevor Horn twiddling the knobs and journalist Paul Morley creating slogans and manipulating the media, it was a potent blend of creativity.
And now, three decades later, the latest batch of CDs creaming off the best of the label’s output hits the shelves – virtual or otherwise – proving, if proof were needed, that ZTT’s cauldron of diverse talents transcend the era in which it was born.
There is, of course, the obligatory Frankie Goes To Hollywood compilation. Somewhat remarkably, for a group who only released seven singles during their short-lived career, they have now spawned more than that number in terms of compilation albums.
Frankie Said (Deluxe Edition) is, in truth, the same CD which was released last year – but now bundled with a DVD too featuring all the promo videos of the hits plus, the real treat here, some of their appearances on Top of the Pops during 1984 – the year they dominated the charts with Relax, Two Tribes and the Power of Love.
The CD itself remains a rather fan-focused affair (two many of the hits appear in different versions to those that topped the chart) but for a CD/DVD package less than £10 it is nothing if not glorious good value.
Perhaps more interesting is the Organisation of Pop CD.
It would be hard to dislike any CD which features Frankie’s three number ones, Propaganda’s mouthwatering Duel, Close to the Edit by the Art of Noise, a duet by Shane MacGowan and Sinead O’Connor or anything by Kirsty MacColl, and although the sequencing of tracks leaves a little to be desired - it flits from eras and styles like an erratic bluebottle - this is a great collection. It’s like a mouthwash – you consume it and it surges around until ultimately you spit it out but feel all the better for it.
And while we’re talking ZTT, it would be wrong to overlook its ability to take the 12” and turn it into an art form.
The Art of the 12” is the third volume of compilations and, the cynic might say, is beginning to scrap the bottom of the barrel. Certainly the inclusion of Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Love Missile F1-11 may raise a few eye-brows given its link to ZTT is hard to work out, but, once again, by the time you’ve found yourself getting around the outside of ABC, The Art of Noise, and the theme music to The Tube, you find yourself having bought into the ZTT concept. It’s not always pretty, but it is worth persevering with.
They may have created as much controversy for their business practices over the years as they have some of their music, but ZTT remains an addictive label full of interest – and for that these three releases are worth investigating.
Frankie Said (Deluxe Edition) - CD&DVD
The Organisation of Pop (London edition) - 2CD
The Art of the 12”, Volumne Three - 2CD
All released on ZTT/Salvo Music on February 10.
Chris Britcher / kentnews.co.uk