Number ones: #2


  • Week Ending 28th January 1984
  • 2 weeks at #1

Frankie seemed to come, if you pardon the pun, from nowhere as far as I was concerned. With a pop perspective still limited to the UK Top 40 and daytime Radio 1, my first encounter with Relax had been its entry at #35 on the first new chart of 1984.

Of course, the single had in fact been loitering around the lower reaches of the Top 75 since November 1983, and to more worldly individuals (and viewers of The Tube music programme) there was already a degree of potential controversy surrounding the record, its sleeve and its original promo video.

I remained oblivious, blissfully unaware that the fantastic-sounding track I was hearing would become one of the most notorious singles of its era, and launch the most fantastically brief supernova of a career with a kind of pop music that, even now, has rarely been emulated. Relax immediately grabbed my attention with the way it sounded, and the next few days were spent rewinding the C90 cassette I would tape the charts onto every week, to listen to it over and over again.

Relax then shot up to #6. Way-hey, they’re coming! But wait, what the **** is going on? They didn’t play it on the Sunday Top 40 countdown. Huh? And then all was extensively revealed. The lyrical “connotations”, the Mike Read “ban”….and the record suddenly became very much the talk of the schoolyard. We’ve all been 12 year old kids, you know the score.

Well, the immature sniggering I grew out of, but the fascination with the sonic genius of Relax is something I have never shaken off.  Whatever mix (and there have been many), the story is still the same. Juggle the component parts around as wildly as you wish (and Trevor Horn certainly did that), but it will still sound magnificent.

Given all the hoo-ha, it’s actually quite surprising that Relax didn’t spend longer at #1 on my own chart; maybe the absence of airplay and Top Of The Pops exposure had more of an effect than I realised. It did, however, continue to chart for several months (just like on the real Top 40) and remains one of my all-time favourite singles.



    • It really hasn’t, which is extraordinary in some ways. Relax stands out from all my other #1s around this time, which were moody and reflective. But there was simply no resisting that bassline.


  1. Out of curiosity (and a part of me is dreading the answer given how ‘generous’ ZTT was with remixes), is there any particular remix or extended version that you think is essential?


    • I rate the “New York Twelve Inch” mix as my favourite (he says, checking all 67 minutes’ worth of Relax versions in his iTunes playlist); it’s a proper extended version that retains the essence of the song and the single mix without going OTT like the 16-minute “Sex Mix” does.

      The “New York Twelve Inch” mix can be found on the Frankie Said compilation. It’s 7.26 long.


  2. Much appreciated, thanks. I’m slowly diving into the remix heaven and hell that ZTT is and, between the various Anniversary Deluxe Editions, Greatest Hits albums and The Art of the 12″ compilations, I feel lost yet excited.


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