'This Düsseldorf quartet comprised of vocalists Claudia Brücken & Susanne Freytag, percussionist Michael Mertens and keyboardist Ralf Dörper. Moving to the UK in 1983, they were quickly signed by Paul Morley to the fledgling ZTT label, and their first single appeared in February 1984.
Dr. Mabuse gave these subversive popsters a UK top thirty hit, staying on the chart for an impressive nine weeks. It was more than a year before Propaganda released a follow up, but when Dual was finally issued in May 1985 it climbed to number twenty one.
Shortly thereafter, the group’s debut album A Secret Wish appeared, and a UK tour was arranged to promote it. With the addition of former Simple Minds rhythm section Derek Forbes (bass) and Brian McGee (drums), Propaganda were able to take their glacial pop to the people. The album itself was a twisted, Teutonic masterpiece, belonging to a lineage that can be traced back to David Bowie’s hugely influential foray into Germanic sub-culture, Low. By the ‘80s, Bowie had moved into new territory, but his creations bastard offspring were flourishing in British pop, as evidenced in the work of Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams), Simple Minds (New Gold Dream), Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (Architecture And Morality), Human League (Dare), and even the limp pop posturing of Duran Duran. Propaganda were several leagues ahead of their contemporaries, fashioning a cold yet beautiful work that was crafted by first generation Germans, and polished by Trevor Horn’s spirit of the age production.
Towards the end of 1985, ZTT released the remix album, Wishful Thinking, a genuine artistic venture, aimed at reshaping and remodelling Propagandas visionary work, with the group aided by Paul Morley and Bob Kraushaar.
After that Propaganda went underground, until a version emerged in 1990, without Brücken, Freytag or Dörper, inconceivably fronted by American vocalist Betsi Miller. Miller herself was a fine singer, but Propaganda fans were never going to be satisfied with such a different sound and direction.
Tantalising glimpses of continuing Propaganda activity have materialised on several occasions since, including an ill fated record that was never released - (though some tracks found their way onto the internet). A steady output of separate and joint artistic activity has continued from each of the original band members.
Ralf continues to work with The Krupps, as well as making ongoing Propaganda input. Michael remains busy in his studio in Düsseldorf. Susanne adds magic to certain exotic projects before mysteriously vanishing, only to resurface in the least expected place. Claudia has been active in numerous creative collaborations, most recently as an exciting partnership with Paul Humphreys (OMD) as the group Onetwo (check www.theremusic.com).
Whispers of a Propaganda reunion have persisted, with occasional hard evidence of the possibility, such as the performance with all four original members with Trevor Horn at Wembley, and the recent Claudia Brücken concert at the Scala in London where she was joined by Susanne and Ralf for several spectacular numbers.
The story is still well and truly alive, and as enigmatic as ever...
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