IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (62)

Most of today’s words come from a posting back in April 2015, along with some helpful and/or astute comments that were offered up at the time.

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 which 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.

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 who went out on tour featured the ex-Minds bassist Derek Forbes…..

Postpunkmonk, in response to Alex G mentioning that he had a non-standard version of the 7″ of Dr Mabuse, informed us that the single had been “a true game of chance; either the instrumental version or the vocal version was inserted randomly in sleeves and one wouldn’t know one’s fate until the disc was played.”

I don’t have a copy of the 7″, so once again will offer up two of the tracks from the 12″:-

mp3: Propaganda – Das Testaments Des Mabuse
mp3: Propaganda – Femme Fatale (The Woman With The Orchid)

I’ll leave the last word(s) to Echorich:-

Propaganda 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.

JC

8 thoughts on “IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (62)

  1. Superb single, even better when you consider it was their debut. It sounds so accomplished. A Secret Wish is a fantastic album which, also now sounding rather dated, still has the songs which make it a joy to listen to.

    Their major label manifestation was a shadow of the band they were while on ZTT.

  2. Not only Peak-ZTT but also Peak Trevor Horn. He had been building towards this beginning in 1981 with the 2nd Buggles album, which was the proof-of-concept for the ZTT sound. One foot in Prog, the other in Pop. Adding the strings of Anne Dudley for “The Lexicon Of Love” in 1982, and then introducing computers for “Relax” in 1983. It all climaxed in 1984 with “Dr. Mabuse.” There was no where to go from here but down.

  3. I love this single. Secret Wish is an incredible album – though the vinyl not CD version, which remixed and rejigged a few songs to its detriment. Dr. Mabuse is one of those incredible statements of intent that also cracked the UK singles chart, albeit just inside the Top 30. My parents had the early Now That’s What I Call Music compilations on cassette for the car and I was delighted when Dr. Mabuse popped up on volume 3, nestled between Bananarama and Tina Turner.

    Like you, JC, I had a teen crush on Susanne Freytag, though I was also fascinated by Claudia Brucken, so it was a winning combo.

    The less said about Propaganda Mk. 2 the better…

  4. Mabuse is amazing & I continue to stream their album & it’s remix follow up with great pleasure (having only ever heard Propaganda prior to 2015). I noticed not much is written about Duel in this blog post & agree, the less said about it the better.

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