Disco Heaven

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"Disco Heaven"
Hollydiscoheaven.jpg
Single by Holly Johnson
from the album Soulstream
Released 6 September 1999
Format 12" vinyl, CD single
Genre Pop
Length 4:16
Label Pleasuredome
Writer(s) Holly Johnson
Producer(s) Holly Johnson
Holly Johnson singles chronology
"Hallelujah!"
(1998)
"Disco Heaven"
(1999)
"The Power of Love"
(1999)

"Disco Heaven" is s song from former Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson, released as the lead single from his 1999 album Soulstream. The song was written and produced by Holly Johnson.

Background[edit]

The song was the first single in five years from Johnson, released on his own Pleasuredome label. It was the second release on the Pleasuredome label, following the promo release of "Hallelujah!", also from the Soulstream album.[1] The single peaked at #85 in the UK, and lasted in the Top 100 for just one single week.[2]

The song is about the friends Johnson had lost to AIDS.[3] In an article by The Guardian in August 1999, the author Simon Hattenstone spoke of the song, stating "He wants to play me the new single, so we head off for his recording studio in the attic. The song Disco Heaven seems to be a celebratory throwback to his clubbing days. Johnson, now 39, still talks in the same high camp of yesteryear with a pouting stress between syllables." Johnson was quoted "It's a song about remembering in a positive way your friends that aren't here any more. You know they're all there dancing together in disco heaven." The article also noted "Johnson has plenty of friends to remember. He can count 15 friends with AIDS, all of them now dead."[4][5]

On the promotional CD single release of "Disco Heaven" came a card detailing info on the release. The card, issued by SizeNine, read "An artist and musician probably best known for forming the 80s phenomenon Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Holly Johnson returns with the infectious 'Disco Heaven'. The first commercial release on his Pleasuredome label ("in memorium [sic] to lost friends and loved ones, an ode to disco past and present") the single is taken from the forthcoming album Soulstream released September 1999. Holly truly captures the disco vibes that are currently storming the charts and the dancefloors."[6]

Release[edit]

In the Italian Rockol of 19 August 1999, an article based on Soulstream stated "Holly Johnson, former lead singer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the English group of "alternative dance" well known in the eighties, is ready to get back on track. Ten years on from the album "Blast", Holly - who years ago had made it known to have contracted the AIDS virus - has indeed prepared his first single in five years, "Disco Heaven", which will be in stores from September 6, and will be accompanied by a video full of quotes of the 80s - and with the participation of Boy George in person. This is the first song from the new album that will follow on October 4, "Soulstream."[7] Despite this, the promotional CD single press detail card had noted the release date as 23 August.[6]

The single was released via Johnson's own label Pleasuredome in the UK only. It was issued on 12" vinyl and CD.[8]

On the main 12" release, four versions/remixes of the song were included. The featured remix was the seven-minute "Disco Heaven (Wayne G's Heaven Mix)", whilst the other tracks were "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)", "Disco Heaven (Frankie Says... Edit)" (a reference to Frankie Goes to Hollywood in the title) and "Disco Heaven (7" Version)".[9] Additionally, a UK 12" promo of this release featured the same track listing.[10]

For the main three-track CD release, the featured version was "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix Edit)" which was also used on the Soulstream album, whilst the other two tracks were "Disco Heaven (Daz & Andy's Heavenly Remix)" and "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)".[11] The "Disco Heaven (Daz & Andy's Heavenly Remix)" was created by Andy Allder and Daz Saund.[12]

A four-track CD release was also issued and featured "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix Edit)" again as the featured track, alongside "Disco Heaven (Frankie Says... Edit)", "Disco Heaven (Wayne G's Heaven Mix)" and "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)". A promo version of the particular release was also issued.[6]

A five-track CD acetate was released with a bare white sleeve with text/track listing. The release featured all tracks in the same order as the 12" vinyl release, but with "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix Edit)" as the fifth track.[13]

Both the main 12" release and the two main CD releases featured artwork highlighting a bright coloured background and a disco ball alongside the cover's text. The back cover included a similar theme but with drawings from Johnson himself of angel-like figures. For the 12" promo release, the artwork featured the logo of the Pleasuredome label with a black background. This generic sleeve was also issued for the "Hallelujah!" promo release.[13]

A UK test press vinyl and metropolis metal vinyl acetate is also in circulation.[13]

Music video[edit]

The video for the song was Johnson's directorial debut and his first music video since the 1994 video for the single "Legendary Children".

The video featured cameo appearances by Boy George as (the ghost of) Leigh Bowery, Jasper Conran as the late American designer Halston, Angie Brown (the song's backing vocalist) as herself, Jibby Bean as herself, Win Austin as Grace Jones, Trademark as Andy Warhol, Pinkietessa, Nicola Bowery Roy as Sylvester and Golden Boy. Dancers in the video included Faustos Danese, Charles Sebunya, Roberto Saraceno, Laura Hills, Melody Woodhead and Bev Jones. The video's choreography was handled by Les Child, who was assisted by Mark Tyme.[14]

In the Guardian article of August 1999, author Simon Hattenstone spoke of the song in relation to visiting Johnson's home, stating "He wants to play me the new single, so we head off for his recording studio in the attic. He turns on the video, tells me it's his directorial debut, and starts smiling. The song Disco Heaven seems to be a celebratory throwback to his clubbing days. The video features celebrities such as Boy George and Jasper Conran imitating great gay icons like Divine and Leigh Bowery." Johnson was quoted stating "All me fabulous guest stars - it was bloody hard work."[4][5]

On 24 August 1999, MTV News published an article based on the Soulstream album, which stated "Johnson, 39, told MTV News via email that he'll be releasing "Soulstream," his first LP in close to a decade, on October 4, with a new single, "Disco Heaven," due out on September 6. The "Disco Heaven" video should be very much in keeping with its title; Johnson reported that Boy George makes a cameo appearance in the clip as the late artist Leigh Bowery, while designer Jasper Conran stars as the late designer Halston and Gloria Gusset portrays the late transvestite actor/cult icon Divine."[15]

In the 9 November 1999 issue of The Advocate, an article based on Johnson and the Soulstream album noted "A video to its first single, "Disco Heaven," an homage to Studio 54, includes an appearance by Boy George."[16]

On 14 October 2002, an article with New Statesman based on an interview with Johnson saw him speak of the video, where he stated "My film was Disco Heaven, a disco-struction of the pop video, featuring Boy George as Leigh Bowery, and other looky-likey, Studio 54-era luminaries."[17]

In early 2011, Johnson answered several fan questions and one asked "What was directing Disco Heaven like for you?". Johnson stated "I loved it but it was exhausting, after producing the record, I was trying to promote it, release it, direct the video, it was all a bit too much for one person."[18]

Track listing[edit]

12" Single
  1. "Disco Heaven (Wayne G's Heaven Mix)" - 7:03
  2. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)" - 7:10
  3. "Disco Heaven (Frankie Says... Edit)" - 6:23
  4. "Disco Heaven (7" Version)" - 4:12
12" Single (UK promo)
  1. "Disco Heaven (Wayne G's Heaven Mix)" - 7:03
  2. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)" - 7:10
  3. "Disco Heaven (Frankie Says... Edit)" - 6:23
  4. "Disco Heaven (7" Version)" - 4:12
CD Single
  1. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix Edit)" - 4:15
  2. "Disco Heaven (Daz & Andy's Heavenly Remix)" - 6:59
  3. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)" - 7:12
CD Single
  1. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix Edit)" - 4:15
  2. "Disco Heaven (Frankie Says... Edit)" - 6:23
  3. "Disco Heaven (Wayne G's Heaven Mix)" - 7:03
  4. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)" - 7:12
CD Single (UK promo)
  1. "Disco Heaven (Wayne G's Heaven Mix)" - 7:03
  2. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix)" - 7:10
  3. "Disco Heaven (Frankie Says... Edit)" - 6:23
  4. "Disco Heaven (7" Version)" - 4:12
  5. "Disco Heaven (Sicario Club Mix Edit)" - 4:15

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release of the Soulstream album, a review by The Guardian wrote "By default, the best tracks are the campest: the nostalgic Disco Heaven and Legendary Children."[19][20]

In the Guardian article of August 1999, author Simon Hattenstone spoke of the song, which was played to him in Johnson's own home studio. Hattenstone stated "The song Disco Heaven seems to be a celebratory throwback to his clubbing days."[4]

In the American Billboard magazine issue of 8 January 2000, a review of the Soulstream album was issued under the "Dance Trax" section. The review stated "The 10-track collection will no doubt please fans of the singer's blue-eyed vocals. While past club hits are included ("Disco Heaven," "Hallelujah!," "Legendary Children," and "The Power of Love"), it's new revelations like the Burt Bacharach-etched "Hope," the ambient-hued title track, and the soul-tinged "Lady Luck" that truly elevates this album."[21]

Jon O'Brien of Allmusic spoke of the song in a review of the Soulstream album, stating "The retro stylings are more forgivable when Johnson's distinctive, powerful vocals and life-affirming lyrics are let loose on the dancefloor, with the infectious camp Euro-disco of "Hallelujah" and "Disco Heaven," the latter a joyous lament to the friends he lost to AIDS, and impossible to resist."[22]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1999) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[23] 85

Remixes[edit]

  • "Disco Heaven" (Sicario Club Mix radio eEdit)
  • "Disco Heaven" (Daz & Andy's Heavenly remix)
  • "Disco Heaven" (Sicario Club mix)
  • "Disco Heaven" (Wayne G's Heaven mix)
  • "Disco Heaven" (Frankie Says... edit)
  • "Disco Heaven" (7" version)

Personnel[edit]

  • Holly Johnson - Lead Vocals, Producer, Engineer
  • Angie Brown - Backing Vocals
  • Gavin Landless, Mark Tucker, Simon Wilde - Engineer
  • Mike "Spike" Drake - Mixing, Production Assistance – Mike "Spike" Drake
  • Chris Toole - Programming
  • Strings Arrangement, Strings Conductor – Nick Ingman
  • Holly Johnson - Artwork (Disco Heaven Drawing)
  • Holly Johnson - Writer

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Holly Johnson Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. 1960-02-09. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  2. ^ http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/25235/holly-johnson/
  3. ^ The Rolling stone encyclopedia of rock & roll - Holly George-Warren, Patricia Romanowski, Patricia Romanowski Bashe, Jon Pareles - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b c "I will survive | From". The Guardian. 1999-08-16. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  5. ^ a b "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | I will survive". Zttaat.com. 1999-08-16. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  6. ^ a b c "fgth home page". Frankie-say.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  7. ^ "√ Sei settembre: torna Holly dei Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Rockol" (in Italian). Rockol.it. 1999-08-19. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  8. ^ "Holly Johnson - Disco Heaven at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  9. ^ "Holly Johnson - Disco Heaven (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  10. ^ "Holly Johnson - Disco Heaven (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  11. ^ "Holly Johnson - Disco Heaven (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  12. ^ "Holly Johnson Disco Heaven UK CD single (CD5 / 5") (143826)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  13. ^ a b c "fgth home page". Frankie-say.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  14. ^ YouTube (2010-08-16). "Disco Heaven by Holly Johnson". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  15. ^ Saidman, Sorelle (1999-08-24). "Frankie's Not In Hollywood: Holly Johnson Prepares New Album - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  16. ^ The Advocate - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. 1999-11-09. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  17. ^ New Statesman - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  18. ^ "The Alternate Boards - Some Questions Answered By Holly". Fgthq.de. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  19. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Holly Johnson - Soulstream". Zttaat.com. 1999-10-08. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  20. ^ "Other pop CD releases | The Guardian". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  21. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. 2000-01-08. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  22. ^ O'Brien, Jon (1999-11-23). "Soulstream - Holly Johnson : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  23. ^ http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/25235/holly-johnson/