This Düsseldorf quartet comprised of vocalist Claudia Brücken, percussionist Michael Mertens, and keyboardists Susanne Freytag and Ralf Dörper. Moving to the UK in 1983, they were quickly signed by Trevor Horn to his 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. Don’t for one moment think that this was a cut’n’paste job akin to the type of slipshod exploitation proffered by today's young bucks. Rather, it was a genuine artistic venture, aimed at reshaping and remodelling Propagandas visionary work, with the group aided by Paul Morley and Bob Kraushaar.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much it, until a version of Propaganda emerged in 1990, with the irreplaceable Brücken inconceivably replaced by American vocalist Betsi Miller. Miller herself was a fine singer, but Propaganda fans were never going to be completely at ease with anyone replacing their magnificent ice queen. Freytag and Dörper were gone too, and although the new band made a decent stab with 1 2 3 4, their first album in half a decade, their lush synthetic pop was already beginning to sound anachronistic. The album, released on Virgin subsidiary Charisma, yielded two modest UK chart hits in Heaven Give Me Words and Only One Word, before Propaganda faded from view. Whispers of a reunion have persisted over the past ten years or so, but as yet rumour has failed to set the woods alight.
To find out more about Claudia Brücken's new exciting partnership with Paul Humphreys (OMD) in the group OneTwo, please go to www.theremusic.com..
Noise and Girls Come Out to Play
Wishful Thinking (Expanded Edition)
A Secret Wish (Deluxe Edition)