Taking a break from the studio where the legendary & groundbreaking producer is currently working with Billy Idol on his comeback album, Trevor Horn takes a moment to reflect back on the early days of ZTT Records with Philip Sherburne for Spin Magazine’s “Album of The Week”.
Recalling the label’s origins, Horn tells Spin: “In the late ’70s, the record business was incredibly successful, but the people that were successful were people like Led Zeppelin, Yes, Elton John — all the big rock stars who are still around now. There was a reaction against all of that with punk rock, but there was also a techno thing starting. You know, Kraftwerk were really the first people, with that album Man Machine. But let’s be honest, it was pretty weedy, German stuff. I’ve never rated German rock’n’roll, but I drive a German car! So I suppose I admired Kraftwerk’s idea. I thought the idea was great. I thought the actual execution of it fell somewhat short of the mark. I was intrigued by the idea of making a fantastic techno-pop group who could really play. And in a way, Frankie were a bit like my version of that techno-pop group that Kraftwerk started off.”
Currently celebrating their 30th anniversary year, ZTT Records – Zang Tuum Tumb – began life in 1983 as the brainchild of record producer Trevor Horn. The home of futurist pop – A&R’d in its early days by NME writer Paul Morley – the label is home to a game-changing catalogue of electronic pop comprising 50 albums and a further 100 singles including chart-toppers like Frankie Goes To Hollywood (“Relax”) Seal (“Kiss From A Rose”) and Art of Noise (“Moments in Love”).
Pop critic Simon Price called Trevor Horn “the man who invented the Eighties,” and listening to this two-disc compendium it’s hard not to agree. The Organization of Pop, to be released exclusively through Razor & Tie for the first time in North America, is clearly the testament of a man who seemed born to make hits – how many other producers could put together a compilation that encompasses Vegas legend Tom Jones, hip-hop pathmaker Rakim, early British rave stars 808 State, Irish rock balladeers The Frames (well before Glen Hansard cemented his star by filming Once and winning an Oscar for “Falling Slowly”), Irish anti-balladeer Shane MacGowan, and disco icon Grace Jones, and have it all make sense?
After founding ZTT with journalist Paul Morley, Horn quickly became known for his mad perfectionism. Their first act was Liverpool’s Frankie Goes to Hollywood whose heavy, camp presence was blown up like a zeppelin by Horn’s knob-twisting. In 1984, “Relax” went to Number One in England for five weeks (following BBC ban once Radio 1’s Mike Read paid closer attention to the lyrics) and hit the U.S. Top Ten. Also typical of the producer’s perfectionism: A year after Frankie blew up, Horn worked with Grace Jones on “Slave to the Rhythm”—The Organization of Pop’s lead track—but emerged from the studio with an albums-worth of mixes.
Timely without being time-bound—that was ZTT’s Eighties remit, audible on the Art of Noise’s “Beat Box” and “Moments in Love” and on Propaganda’s “Sorry for Laughing.” It even applied to Tom Jones’ “If I Only Knew,” from 1994, a huffing, puffing, strutting thing that frames the Welshman’s whale of a voice without backing down an inch from it. And as ZTT matured, it found its calling in adult ballads that were appealingly overblown in a romantic way: Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” (still ubiquitous on adult-contemporary radio), The Frames’ “Star Star”, and Lisa Stansfield’s “The Moment” (2004). The impact of these songs has spread to nearly every side of the contemporary soundscape – After all, it’s not titled The Organization of Pop for nothing.
ORGANIZATION OF POP Pre-Order Now Here: http://zttrecords.merchnow.com/. There will also be a special 30th Anniversary Shirt that bundled with the CD to purchase.
ORGANIZATION OF POP TRACK LISTING
Disc 1: The Organisation of Pop (the Action Series, from ZTT)
- Grace Jones – Slave To The Rhythm
- Seal – Kiss From A Rose
- Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax (New York Mix)
- 808 State – Pacific (Justin Strauss 0101 Mix)
- Art of Noise – Beat Box
- Propaganda – Dr. Mabuse (Abuse)
- Tom Jones – If Only I Knew (Cold Stop Version)
- MC Tunes vs 808 State – Dance Yourself To Death (Dust Brothers Radio Edit)
- Propaganda – Sorry For Laughing (Unapologetic 12” Mix)
- 808 State – Cubik (Pan American Excursion)
- Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes
- Shane MacGowan and Sinead O’Connor – Haunted
- The Frames – Star Star
- Art of Noise – Moments In Love (Beaten)
Disc 2: The Disorganisation of Pop (the Incidental Series, from Zang Tuum Tumb)
- The Buggles – We Can Fly From Here (Part One)
- The Frames – Saw It To Me Now
- Shame MacGowan and Maire Brennan – You’ve The One
- The Frames – Seven Day Mile
- Lee Griffiths – Sweet Baby James
- Das Psycho Rangers – Homage to the Blessed
- Art of Noise featuring Rakim – Metaforce
- Nasty Rox Inc. – Escape From New York (12” Mix)
- ACT – Snobbery & Decay (That’s Entertainment Mix)
- The Buggles – I Am A Camera (12” Mix)
- Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome (Fruitness Mix)
- Lisa Stansfield – The Moment
- The Buggles – We Can Fly From Here (Part Two)
- Andrew Poppy – Kink Konk Adiago
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