Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Japan 12” with obi gold out insert
|A||Welcome To The Pleasure Dome (Real Altered)
|B1||Get It On
“Welcome to the Pleasuredome” is the title track to the 1984 debut album by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The lyrics of the song were inspired by the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In March 1985, the album track was substantially abridged and remixed for release as the group’s “fourth” UK single, however it only reached number 2 and was kept of the top spot by Philip Bailey & Phil Collins -Easy Lover.
While criticized at the time of release and afterward for being a song that glorifies debauchery, the lyrics (and video) make clear that the point of the song, just as Coleridge’s poem, is about the dangers of this kind of lifestyle.
Despite the group’s record label (ZTT) pre-emptively promoting the single as “their fourth number one”, an achievement that would have set a new UK record for consecutive number one singles by a debuting artist, “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” peaked at number two in the UK singles chart, being kept off the top spot by the Phil Collins/Philip Bailey duet “Easy Lover”. The single spent a total of eleven weeks on the UK chart.
It was the first release by the group not to reach number one and, despite representing a creditable success in its own right, it symbolically confirmed the end of the chart invincibility that the group had enjoyed during 1984. Frankie Goes to Hollywood would not release another record for seventeen months, and they would ultimately fail to emulate their past glories upon their return.
The spoken-word introductions to both 12-inch mixes are adapted from Walter Kaufmann’s 1967 translation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. The recitation on the first 12-inch (“Real Altered”) is by Gary Taylor, whilst that on the second 12-inch (“Fruitness”) and the cassette is by actor Geoffrey Palmer. It is unknown whether Palmer’s concluding “Welcome To The Pleasuredrome” was a genuine mistake or a deliberately scripted one.
This is the only single from the group that was not released on a CD single at that time. “Relax”, “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love” all saw a CD-maxi release in Germany at the end of the 80’s. “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” was not given such a release.
All releases featured either a short, long or even longer version of “Get It On”, originally recorded for a BBC Radio 1 session in 1983, plus a faded or full length version of “Happy Hi!”, the only brand-new song to appear on the single.
Both “Relax (International)” and “Born To Run” are faux-live recordings (i.e. with studio overdubs), based on an actual live appearance on The Tube’s “Europe A-Go-Go” in Newcastle during early January 1985.
The video, by Bernard Rose, features the group stealing a car, going to a carnival and encountering all manner of deceptively “pleasureable” activities. The audio soundtrack of the video was included as part of the cassette single.
In 1984, a few months prior to the album’s release, an early instrumental version of the album track was issued as a promotional 12-inch single, entitled “Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Pleasure Fix)”, along with a similar early instrumental of “The Only Star in Heaven” (subtitled “Star Fix”). These tracks were subsequently given wider release as part of the B-side to the second 12-inch of “The Power of Love” single.
“Welcome to the Pleasuredome” was also used on several promotional records in the USA during 1985, featuring the following tracks in various combinations:
The second UK 7-inch mix of the track (“Alternative Real”), labelled “Trevor Horn Remix Edit”.
An edited version of the album track created by the Sacramento radio station KZAP, and known as “Welcome to the Pleasuredome (KZAP Edit)” (6:22)
A version of the second UK 7-inch mix (“Alternative Reel”) with a new introduction added, and known as “Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Urban Mix)” (8:08). This is on the Bang! Japanese album and CD.
A slightly edited (spoken introduction removed) version of “Relax (International)” (4:26)
The track has periodically been reissued as a single, including during 1993 and 2000. Although these releases have some admirers, and have usefully made available various original mixes on CD for the first time, the accompanying A-side remixes by contemporary DJs have tended on the whole to bear little or no comparison to the spirit of the originals.
Reissues in the group’s name have also tended to shun any overt reference to the identity of the original artists, and the reissue artwork has notably featured no images of the group. It has been suggested that this situation may relate to Johnson’s successful but acrimonious court case against ZTT in 1989, which freed him (and effectively the other group members) from their unfair contract with the label.