Back in July 2015, I wrote about Propaganda and their debut single Dr Mabuse, released in February 1984. The piece made passing reference to the fact that the follow-up single, Duel, didn’t get released until much later largely as a result of ZTT having to concentrate on the phenomena that was Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I always meant to do a follow-up posting but never quite got round to it until now.
Duel is a lovely bit of electro-pop that fitted in just perfectly with so many of the other musicians I was developing a love for in the mid-80s, and in particular Pet Shop Boys. There was also something quite erotic about the vocal delivery of Claudia Brucken, but visually it was the other female in the band – Susanne Freytag – who really did it for me. The band actually were on UK telly quite a bit around the time of Duel, including a couple of live songs that were aired on Whistle Test on BBC 2 during which they proved, as a live act, they could cut it, albeit there were some backing tapes involved. It was also interesting to see Derek Forbes, formerly of Simple Minds, making an important contribution to the live sound.
It turned out to be the band’s best-selling single in the UK reaching #21 in May 1985 but I always felt the group never got the success it really deserved as the media by now were setting out on a ZTT backlash, sick to the back teeth of FGTH, and arguing that their success was down to the production skills of Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson and the hype-skills of Paul Morley rather than any talents the musicians might have. It seemed to be implied that Propaganda were no different despite the fact that anyone who saw them perform on Whistle Test and indeed The Tube on Channel 4 would know these were bona-fide musicians and singers.
The band toured for much of 1985, promoting debut album A Secret Wish. A remix album was issued just before Christmas but the band were strangely absent throughout 1986 and out of the blue came the news that Claudia Brucken was leaving to pursue a solo career. It turned out that the group had been taking legal action against ZTT as they were unhappy with the details of the recording contract and the label had counter-acted with action that prevented them going elsewhere. The new-look group did get a move to Virgin Records in 1988 but without the sort of attention foisted on them when they first burst onto the scene,
The 7″ version of Duel appeared on the debut album:-
mp3 : Propaganda – Duel
The 12″ had an extended version along with an industrial version on its flip side:-