My first exposure to Propaganda came one night at the end of an episode of what by then was called Whistle Test, when a memorable pop promo for a song called Dr Mabuse was played out over the credits sometime around early 1984.

It turned out that this was to be the second single released on the ZTT label – the first being the amazingly successful Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I was immediately captivated by its charms – it was a big booming tune that offered something different each time you played it. Oh and in co-vocalist Susanne Freytag, they had one of the most stunningly gorgeous women in the pop world.

The single was only a minor hit, peaking at #27, and with subsequent FGTH singles also being multi-million sellers, the relatively small ZTT had to put all its eggs into one basket, so Propaganda were left to one side for the best part of 12 months and it was April 1985 before the follow-up single Duel was released.

For the rest of the year, the band enjoyed quite a high-profile, including a number of TV appearances, live gigs and the release of the debut LP A Secret Wish in July 1985. Incidentally, the vinyl and CD versions of the album are very different – they were released some three months apart, and the CD has extended and slightly remixed versions of a number of the tracks.

I loved A Secret Wish. It was the sort of record I had imagined Simple Minds going onto make on the back of their earliest releases instead of gravitating towards the stadium rock behemoths they were becoming. And it was no real surprise that the Propaganda which went out on tour featured the ex-Minds bassist Derek Forbes…..

The debut single offered different versions on the 7″ and 12″. My 7″ copy has long gone – a victim of stupidity when all my 7″ singles were ‘lost’ in Edinburgh in 1986 but I do have the 12″ songs to offer up:-

mp3 : Propaganda – Das Testaments Des Mabuse
mp3 : Propaganda – Femme Fatale

Yup, another 80s band besotted by The Velvet Underground…..

Oh and there’s another version of Dr Mabuse also tucked away on the b-side, but it’s just a bit too industrial for my liking today.



  1. I think I saw the same programme – and it had a similar effect on me. I bought the 12″ and played it to death. It was the first time I’d heard any version of Femme Fatale, too. Your post has prompted me to grab my CD of A Secret Wish for this morning’s commute soundtrack!

  2. A great band. I always really liked this track, but my fave is a version of p: Machinery that featured on a ZTT compilation. The label had a habit of releasing a multitude of mixes, and there’s been some recent ZTT comps that contain even more. A Secret Wish is a damn good album.

  3. Happy memories…. I saw Propaganda live, and they were magnificent. And they’re one of those bands whose music hasn’t dated – still love listening to them now!

  4. I had non-standard versions of the Mabuse 7″ and the album for years without realising it. My 7″ is the instrumental remix (but came in the standard sleeve) and my original CD of the album was, unknown to me, an import version with (mostly) the original LP mixes. The “proper” CD mix of “Dream Within A Dream” still sounds wrong to me, its percussive breakdown section doesn’t belong there.

    A great album in any configuration, though… and there have been a few!

  5. I thought it was first featured on The Tube (in my hazy memory at least) but no matter, it was a fantastic release. When it featured (in remix form) over the opening credits of Some kind of wonderful I just knew I was going to like that movie, never mind all the other great tracks on the soundtrack, the vision of Watts drumming along to it has stuck in my mind ever since….

  6. Stevo….the band were on The Tube a fair bit around the release of the album, but I’m certain the first time they were ever on UK telly was via Whistle Test showing the Dr Mabuse video over closing credits….

  7. Alex G – The Mabuse 7″ was a true game of chance; either the instrumental version of the vocal version was inserted randomly in sleeves. One wouldn’t know one’s fate until the disc was played. The “ninth Life” remix was my favorite 12″ version of the 1980, which I covered duly in my “4 decades of remixes” series on my blog. I remember the painful wait to get the CD of “A Secret Wish.” I bought it for myself as an import as a college graduation present. I popped it in and played it and had since I had the “Das testaments Des Mabuse” 12″ at the time, went straight to “Mabuse” on the CD. I was not prepared for the cataclysmic mix that was on the enhanced CD version. I later discovered that the US CD was of the LP mix of the album, so I had to have both. Of course, now I have a fat stack of Propaganda releases in the old Record Cell.They were the acme of the 80s for me. After them it all went pear-shaped.

  8. I remember losing my shit when the Mabuse remix off Wishful Thinking was used for the Some Kind of Wonderful trailer. My friends in the theater couldn’t understand why I was freaking out. I thought for sure this was the moment Propaganda were about to shoot in to the pop stratosphere. Little did I know they were already done and dusted…

    Secret Wish is a near perfect album, and the singles all manage to enhance the experience of the songs. A real high point of 80s remix culture; a time when remixing was about re-interpreting the song, not just lifting the vocal and slapping it on a new beat.

    Finally @postpunkmonk: I had some similar experiences tracking down mixes and too have a fat stack of Propaganda to go through this weekend. Can’t wait….

  9. Propaganda Mk.1 was, in my mind, the greatest achievement of ZTT. Dr. Mabuse is a single that, more than any other, exemplifies the label’s mission statement. It was a crystal production, had literary influence and strove to be post modern pop. A Secret Wish would build on this in an explosive way. Nothing else ZTT released ever had the same impact on me as this single and debut album. Frankie would have their moments – mostly in some very well conceived 12″ remixes and post Propaganda combo Act would rekindle some of the magic heard on A Secret Wish, but this was a glorious one off with little coming close to comparison.

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