Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Nov 10th 2009 10:00AM by Stephen Dowling
However, 25 years on from the heyday of his old band, Johnson's time as one of Britain's most controversial pop stars is getting a revival. Not only was the 'Frankie Say Greatest' compilation released last week but two of Johnson's long lost solo album -- 'Blast' and 'Dreams That Money Can't Buy' -- are to be re-released years after they were deleted.
"They were lost in some corporate archive for many, many years," he tells Spinner. "Then the record company was dissolved, and there weren't many people who actually knew about the records or where they were. There was one guy called Kevin who is director of licensing at UMTV, and he knew where they were and got them out of the archive for me."
Johnson admits he was upset at losing records "you gave your youth to ... it was depressing, but that record company [MCA] had disappeared too. Who do you write to? Who do you complain to? I didn't know what had happened to those tracks and tapes."
And he's quick to point out that the albums weren't hard-to-find curios. "'Blast' was a number one album. There aren't that many albums that have been number one in the history of pop music."
Johnson is reflective rather than bitter about the experience, especially as his back catalogue seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. The 'Frankie Say Greatest' compilation comes as the single 'Relax' -- banned by the BBC in 1984 -- was given an honour at the Q Awards a few weeks back.
"I got a phone call about six months ago and then it all went quiet," Johnson says of the best-of. "And then they rang up and said 'This is what we're doing, we've done all these remixes, do you want to be in the video? We're shooting it on Monday.'"
Not that all this attention means you should expect to see a reunion of Johnson's old group, who split acrimoniously over their contract with producer Trevor Horn's ZTT label. "I think it's widely known I don't work with the band, and I haven't done since 1987," he says matter-of-factly. A few years back a VH1 programme interviewed him -- without telling him they were also trying to get the group into a studio to perform.
"They tricked me into giving them an interview, and then they sprung this question. And I had made it quite clear, to VH1, that I wouldn't perform for them. Yet they somehow edited the final film to make it look like I didn't turn up at the end. I wasn't very happy about it. But there you go. It's all ancient history now."
'Blast' and 'Dreams That Money Can't Buy are rereleased on MCA on Nov. 16. 'Frankie Say Greatest' is out now.