They may be a footnote in the annals of 80s music now, but in 1984, Frankie Goes To Hollywood took the world by storm. Their song "Relax" was everywhere. And this song, "Two Tribes," was their next single. The video seems comical now, but for anyone not alive during that time period, I can't stress enough to you how immediate and frightening and imminent a war with Russia seemed. There was a palpable fear in the zeitgeist, floating in the air...a real and true possibility--no, a likelihood of two super powers going to war. The video by Godley and Creme features look-alike versions of Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko in a fighting ring, going hand to hand while the nations of the world watch. The song itself--and especially the 12" single remixes--features terrifyingly dispassionate samples from the series of twenty "Protect and Survive" public information films for British television, narrated by Patrick Allen.
It was on everyone's mind and the fear was in everyone's heart.
Then-President Ronald Reagan foolishly added to the cultural landscape of fear by making a careless remark during a microphone check before a speech. Although it was not broadcast, the clip was leaked.
He said with jocularity, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Yuck yuck yuck... as we hear chuckles in the background.
According to Wikipedia, with cited sources, "...the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported in October 1984 that the Soviet Far East Army was placed on alert after word of the statement got out, and that the alert was not withdrawn until 30 minutes later. An unnamed aide to US Representative Michael Barnes (D-Md.) confirmed that the Pentagon was aware of the alert."
Jerry Harrison of The Talking Heads, Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic, and Daniel Lazerus formed a one-off group called Bonzo Goes To Washington (a reference to Ronald Reagan's 1951 film "Bedtime For Bonzo" in which he shared billing with a chimp) to create a biting song only using the sample of Reagan's monumental gaffe which opens the track. Listen to it below.
Frankie are still around, minus vocalist Holly Johnson. They are now fronted by Ryan Molloy, who I must say does sound quite a lot like Johnson.