Picks and Pans Review: Liverpool

updated 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Trevor Horn, FGTH's executive producer, has succeeded in taking studio-generated electro-pop to its furthest extreme with this release. He has finally proven that it is entirely possible to turn out an eight-cut dance record without bothering to use, in any noticeable fashion, the group he is supposed to be producing. Liverpool, full of multilayered, synthesizer-heavy arrangements, is so completely the product of his computer-savvy technicians that it's amazing the five lads in Frankie—singers Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford, drummer Peter Gill, bassist Mark O'Toole and guitarist Brian Nash—would consider putting their names on this LP. It would probably take Holly and his pals, or any other electronics nonexpert, days just to find the "on" switch to all the elaborate equipment that went into turning out such tracks as Rage Hard and Watching the Wildlife. That doesn't leave much room for the boys in Frankie to put their personal stamp on the music. In fact the band would have no presence at all on its second album if it weren't for traces of Mark O'Toole's bass playing and lead singer Holly Johnson's echo-laden vocals and apocalyptic lyrics ("We're rats in a cage/ Suicide a-go-go"). They haven't even given their old fans a naughty follow-up to Relax, their 1984 mega-hit that went to the top of the charts after being banned from BBC airwaves because of sexually explicit lyrics. Since Liverpool is unlikely to generate any such outrage, the group will—if this is any indication—sink back into the mass of pop bands and scale down its expectations. Frankie Goes to Sausalito doesn't sound too bad. (Island)

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