Thursday, September 22, 2022

"Love Train" by Holly Johnson

Song#:  3935
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  82
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Johnson experienced a huge amount of success as the lead singer of the British band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Their 1984 debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome became a triple-platinum #1 in the UK (gold, #33 US) thanks to three consecutive #1 hits including the controversial "Relax" (#10 US). Having such major success can affect the inner workings of a band and that seemed to happen with Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Following the relative failure of their more rock-leaning 1986 second album Liverpool, it seemed that Johnson and the rest of the band differed on their direction and it wasn't long before conflicts arose. Once the tour for Liverpool was finished, Johnson decided to quit and head out on a solo career. However, the band's label ZTT wasn't gonna let Johnson just walk away. They were going to hold him to a contract he had signed and took him to court to make sure Johnson could not just leave and record for another label. A two year legal battle ensued and in the end, the court found that the contract was way too restrictive and unreasonable. Therefore, Johnson was free to leave the label. He then signed up with MCA Record and began work on a debut solo album. He would finish off Blast before the end of '88 and would issue out this first single. In the UK, it would become a #4 hit. It would be followed by a second #4 "Americanos." The album would hit #1 and go platinum. With the LP doing well at home, MCA chose to push it out in the US. Unfortunately it didn't fare as well. This first single would stall in the bottom half of the Pop chart while "Americanos" would be a minor #36 Dance entry. With those results, the album would fail to chart.

ReduxReview:  With Frankie Goes to Hollywood hitting it quite big in the UK, folks there were familiar with frontman Holly Johnson. While the band's first album did well in the US, they were not the superstars that they were in Britain. Therefore, Holly Johnson was not necessarily known, especially since four years had passed since "Relax" became a hit. With a good built-in audience in the UK, this song was able to grab attention at make the Top 10. However, in the US it was like Johnson was a brand new unknown artist and so the song had to be pretty dang good if he was going to breakthrough in the States. Unfortunately, this tune didn't fit the bill. It was actually quite a nice track that chugged along well and featured Johnson's unique voice. It was a tasty slice of Euro dance-pop, but I don't think it was strong enough to draw in a US audience that was more into hair metal, freestyle, and Madonna. The album was pretty good as well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Queen guitarist Brian May supplied the guitar solo for this song  2) On first glance at the title, some folks may have thought this was a cover tune. Alas it was not. The song was an original written by Johnson. It had nothing to do with the 1973 #1 Pop/#1 R&B hit of the same name by The O'Jays.  3) In the UK, Johnson would follow up the success of Blast with 1991's Dreams That Money Can't Buy. Its first two singles failed to generate much interest and that left the album off the chart. After that disappointment, Johnson turned to his other love, painting. He would focus most of the 90s on his art, but would return to music in 1999 with the indie album Soulstream. He would not record again until 2014 when he released the critically well-received Europa.


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