Thursday, May 26, 2005

Before You Start

I'm feeling really lazy. Here's a quote from discogs:

Propaganda was formed in 1982 by Ralf Dörper and Andreas Thein. Dörper had been active on Düsseldorf's punk/new wave scene, and had released a number of records both as a member of S.Y.P.H. and Die Krupps, and solo (under his own name and as Die Lemminge). Thein had previously DJ'd.

Their first move was to recruit a mutual friend Suzanne Freytag as vocalist. As a three piece they totally re-vamped the Throbbing Gristle single Disziplin, turning the original TG mesh/mess into "New Pop". This was to be released as the first Propaganda single in 1983 on Operation Twilight (OPT 019), but never appeared.

Following the whole Disziplin project the Propaganda trio took on two new members. Bavarian born Claudia Brücken was recruited for co-vocal duties. Michael Mertens, a member of the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra whom Dörper had befriended responding to an advert Mertens had placed when selling a drum machine, was brought in an "invisible" fifth member, primarily writing and arranging.

Propaganda relocated permanently to England when Disziplin caught the ear of Paul Morley at Zang Tumb Tuum, with whom they signed. The groups 1984 debut single, "Dr Mabuse" (produced by Trevor Horn) was a chart and critical success. The group suffered a 13 month wait for the follow up single and debut album release while ZTT were ploughing all their energies to Frankie Goes To Hollywood. As a result Andreas Thein left Propaganda, Michael Mertens filling his space on group photos.

When the follow-up single, "Duel", arrived it was received rapturously. The groups debut album was regarded as one of 1985s finest. Propaganda spent the second half of 85 touring, expanding their line-up to include ex-Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes and drummer Brian McGee. November saw the release of a remix album, "Wishful Thinking". By the end of the tour at the end of 1985, rumoured tensions within the group were confirmed when a fourth single ("The Murder Of Love") was cancelled and Claudia Brücken announced plans to leave. Claudia`s decision arose from split loyalties when she married ZTT's Paul Morley. Claudia officially left in early 1986 and due to contractual problems/obligations the band were injuncted by ZTT for fourteen months, preventing them from releasing any material.

In 1987, the ZTT injunction was lifted leaving Propaganda without a record deal. Suzanne Freytag and Ralf Dörper elected to lend a hand with writing and recording but stick to their day jobs, so Mertens tamed up with former Propaganda helpers Derek Forbes and Brian McGee. Betsi Miller, American-born but living in Germany, was brought in on vocals. Virgin snapped the group up, but the 1990 album "1234" was poorly received. A tour was announced then cancelled and the group wound down.

Rumours circulated in the late 90s of a Propaganda reformation. Indeed Mertens was working again with Brücken and Freytag, and in 1999 Propaganda's website announced a new album was being recorded. The reformed group were set to sign with EastWest and announced plans to release a promo remix single ("No Return") on Superfly. Momentum was lost, and no official releases from the mark 3 Propaganda recording sessions were forthcoming, though nine polished-sounding tracks leaked via the internet a few years on...

Here's a link to their official (?) site, Propaganda. They've got some videoclips and some more info. Here's a link to Claudia's site, which has a bunch of music samples from the various bands she's been in. Most of her site is in French.

Propaganda - Femme Fatale REMOVED
Propaganda - das testaments des mabuse REMOVED

Both of these are from the 12", "Propaganda Present The Nine Lives Of Dr. Mabuse," released in 1984.

You can find some of their releases over at Amazon, as usual.


Anonymous Les Dale said...

Thanks for these Propaganda tracks. (I could only refer to the 7 inch equivalent before now.)

I was recently considering giving the Propaganda LP to a charity shop as I now have the CD. However, on checking both the LP & CD tracklists, prior to disposal, I found that they are slightly different. I haven't had the chance to investigate this yet...I'm currently archiving reggae...amongst other vinyl things...but I have at least decided to keep both the LP & the CD for now!

By the way, I enjoyed the Stewart Copeland track a couple of weeks ago, but was disappointed in the Thompson Twins selections from "Set" as I recently had a yen to try some of their early (indie) material & hoped that this would be the sort of thing I was looking for. Never mind, I mustn't have been in the mood for 'em that day! (I recently found a copy of a live compilation, recorded at the 101 Club, featuring the TTs (when they were an indie band) on a couple of tracks. I felt the same way about those tracks I'll just put that one away for now as I'm always returning to reconsider the unlikeliest of things when I get the chance!!)

Finally, I was surprised to find these two tracks on The Hype Machine after reading your views about that site. My two pence is that it's been useful to me as an general overview of what's out there, but I have my favourite sites which I always check & read anyway. Anything found on THM is always investigated on the original site because I want to read what the people have to say about their choices & not just pick them up.

Which reminds me...your advice on Sesku Roba was spot on. I enjoyed those two tracks you linked to very much, but I haven't got round to the others yet.

...& really finally...thanks for a great site...&, also, by way of a reminder, there's really nothing wrong with being lazy about this time of year!!

4:06 PM  
Blogger guanoboy said...

Wow. I think you just received the longest comment award! Thank you! It's always great to get feedback on the site (bad and good).

Glad you liked the Copeland tracks, he's always a bit hit or miss for me. He's such a great drummer, but he tends to get a bit repetitive in his melodies. When he's good, he's really good, though.

I'm slowly getting over my initial reaction to the hype machine. I still feel that it'll probably end up speeding up the end of mp3 blogs, but I don't really mind. I can't do this forever as it is.

The thing I'll say in defense of those TT tracks is that Set is about the only album by them that I can still listen to. Their later stuff just doesn't hold up, even though I remember enjoying it so much back in the day. It's just a bit too cheesy.

Gotta run...thanks again for such nice words.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Les Dale said...


re: TTs...I will go back to them...something you hate one day you love the next!

re: Copeland...agreed, but he's not given that much consideration as a solo artist here in Britain.

re: previous comments...just had a bit of time over the bank holiday weekend. Feedback is important.

re: Edwyn Collins...more good news.

Thanks again
Les Dale

8:10 AM  
Anonymous angryrobot said...

I was totally obssessed with Propaganda's Secret Wish, and ZTT in general, during the 80s. I probably still every note of that album backwards and forwards. I can't really listen to it now with anything but nostalgia. Like the Frankie album, the Trevor Horn production is amazing, but other than the singles, the rest sounds like filler. The tunes just aren't there.

I'm not sure if this is still the case, but the US cd had a tracklist error. It listed "Frozen Faces," but I think that track was only on the UK import.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Les Dale said...

Thanks to Angryrobot for the detail about "Frozen Faces" which is listed on my UK version of the CD.

I still like Art Of Noise on ztt from that era & sorta know what you mean about Propaganda. Never got round to Anne Pigalle...but always wanted you know anything about her ztt work? She was a ztt artist, wasn't she?

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Les Dale said...

Thanks to Angryrobot for the detail about "Frozen Faces" which is listed on my UK version of the CD.

I still like Art Of Noise on ztt from that era & sorta know what you mean about Propaganda. Never got round to Anne Pigalle...but always wanted you know anything about her ztt work? (She was a ztt artist, wasn't she?)

10:36 AM  
Blogger guanoboy said...

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about Anne Pigalle...even so much as to say whether or not she was a ZTT artist...sorry...

4:47 PM  
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10:41 PM  
Anonymous Simon C. said...

Anne Pigalle was definitely a ZTT artist. I used to have an old ZTT sampler tape that had herself, Propaganda, FGTH, Art of Noise, etc on it.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

Oh, also forgot to say...

In answer to Les Dale's Q re. Anne Pigalle, her sound was very much a film-noir, black and white, smokey jazz style. Think of a more modern Edith Piaf with a hint of Tom Waits and you're kind of getting there. Hope that helps.

10:59 PM  

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