Dreams That Money Can't Buy

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Dreams That Money Can't Buy
Dreams That Money Can't Buy.jpg
Studio album by Holly Johnson
Released 1991
Genre Dance, Synthpop
Length 40:06
Label MCA
Producer Andy Richards (tracks 1–6, 8–10), Dan Hartman (track 7)
Holly Johnson chronology
Dreams That Money Can't Buy

Dreams That Money Can't Buy is the second solo album by former Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson. It was released in 1991 by MCA Records.


Following Johnson's 1989 debut album Blast, which had peaked at #1 in the UK, the follow-up album Dreams That Money Can't Buy was ready for release in early 1991, after Johnson had started to write and record during 1990. However, by the time of the finishing of the release, Johnson's relations with MCA collapsed over dissatisfaction with slashed promotional budgets for the album. Upon discovering no promotion or marketing budget had been set for the album after the release of the first two singles, Johnson left MCA Records and the album was left unreleased during a 12-month postponement until it was issued later in 1991. With limited promotion and a half-hearted release, the album failed to chart in the UK. The album was Johnson's last studio album until 1999's Soulstream as he discovered he was HIV positive in November 1991, which resulted in him withdrawing from music. During the 1990s period, he would write his autobiography A Bone in My Flute, release two singles and work primarily as a painter.[1]

A total of three singles were issued from the album; "Across the Universe", which peaked at #99, "Where Has Love Gone?", which peaked at #73 and "The People Want to Dance", which failed to chart.[2][3]

The album was recorded at Townhouse Studios in London, Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, Metropolis Studios in London and Marcus Studios in London.[4] The album was mastered at Nimbus.[5]

The album was produced by Andy Richards except for the track "Penny Arcade", with Johnson acting as the executive producer on all tracks. "Penny Arcade" was produced by Dan Hartman, who had produced six tracks from Johnson's Blast album and co-wrote "Atomic City" with him.[6]

In early 2011, Johnson answered several fan questions and one asked "What would be your favourite tracks from each of your three solo albums?" For Dreams That Money Can't Buy he stated "Penny Arcade or The Great Love Story". Johnson was also asked "Were there any album tracks that you would have liked as a single release?" and Johnson responded "Penny Arcade, there could have been some really good remixes done for that." When asked where the album's title came from, Johnson stated "Dreams That Money Can't Buy was inspired by the surrealist film Dreams That Money Can't Buy."[7]

English singer-songwriter and friend Kirsty MacColl appeared on the album track "Boyfriend '65". The song was reputed to have been written after Johnson applied William Burroughs' fold-in method to the Boyfriend Annual 1965.[8] As part of the early 2011 fan questions, Johnson was asked how MacColl came to work on the song. Johnson stated "Oh I had wanted to do the song as a duet with her as far back as 1984, But Island Records and then MCA wouldn't allow it for some reason, so I asked her to do it as a backing vocalist when I finally got round to recording it properly." Johnson was also asked if he played any instruments on his solo albums, and he stated "Well I did some keyboard playing and rhythm programming on all of my solo records as well as the odd bit of guitar playing, like on "Boyfriend 65", and "Hope" and "The Power Of Love" from "Soulstream."[7]

In a 2014 interview with The Arts Desk, Johnson spoke of the failure of the album, and the making of it: "It was a prophetic title! It was deleted almost immediately, only a couple of thousand copies were printed. It was written under pressure. I'd had this validation of a No.1 album and suddenly found myself with a contractual obligation to deliver an album in a certain time period. I was chained to the keyboard and sampling machine for what seemed like an eternity. I even turned down a tour at the end of 1989, just went back into the grubby basement where I had my studio at the time. I still stand by some of the songs – "Penny Arcade", "I Need Your Love" and even "Boyfriend '65" which I got Kirsty MacColl to sing on. There's a blistering saxophone solo by Courtney Pine on "Penny Arcade", but the tide had turned in music-land and in my life. The person who signed me to MCA was either pushed out or left and, as so often happens in that situation, with my champion gone the label turned on me. In a way it was blessing because soon after that I was very ill and had a whole other challenge in my life."[9]


The album was issued via MCA Records mainly across Europe, including the UK. It was released on vinyl, cassette and CD before becoming out-of-print.[10]

On vinyl, it was issued in the UK, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Argentina and other places across Europe.[11] On CD, it was issued in the UK, Germany and Australia amongst other countries.[12] The cassette issue was released in various places including the UK, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. It was also released on this format in Poland and this release featured an exclusive, different album cover/picture sleeve. It highlighted the album cover in the bottom corner, however the main photograph was one of Johnson holding a guitar and wearing a similar shirt to the one seen on the main album cover. An image of the fictional cartoon character Bart Simpson is seen displayed in the room Johnson is in.[13]

It was also released in Japan as a promo sample CD, with lyric insert and obi-strip.[14] The album remains available on CD and as a download today.[15]

The album's artwork featured Johnson wearing a multi-coloured outfit and cap, in front of an orange background which highlighted an orange (fruit), a fish and a boat.[16]

Remaining out-of-print for many years, in November 2009, the album was re-issued without bonus tracks by Island UK/Universal Distribution, along with Blast.[17] In a November 2009 interview/article with Johnson by Spinner, Johnson spoke of the albums, stating "They were lost in some corporate archive for many, many years. 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." Admitting he was upset at losing the records, he stated "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."[18]

Circa September 2011, Strike Force Entertainment and Cherry Red re-issued a remastered and expanded version of the album. This release came in a cardboard sleeve and featured two CD discs and a DVD disc. It also included a special 16 page lyric and picture booklet with an introduction written by Holly Johnson.[19] The first disc highlighted the original album and single b-sides, whilst the second disc highlighted remixes and rarities, which included "Natural (Full Song Mix)" – a song issued exclusively on the Japanese version of the "Americanos" single, from the Blast album.[20] The DVD highlighted promotional videos for "Where Has Love Gone?" and "Across the Universe", with a bonus "Blast Promo".[4]

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

All tracks written by Holly Johnson.

  1. "Across the Universe" – 3:55 UK #99
  2. "When the Party's Over" – 3:59
  3. "The People Want to Dance" – 4:20
  4. "I Need Your Love" – 3:57
  5. "Boyfriend '65" – 3:08
  6. "Where Has Love Gone?" – 4:17 UK #73
  7. "Penny Arcade" – 4:07
  8. "Do It for Love" – 3:45
  9. "You're A Hit" – 3:29
  10. "The Great Love Story" – 4:58

Dreams That Money Can't Buy (Expanded Edition) (2011)[edit]

Disc 1 – Original Album and Single B-Sides[edit]

  1. "Across the Universe" – 3:55
  2. "When the Party's Over" – 4:01
  3. "The People Want to Dance" – 4:21
  4. "I Need Your Love" – 3:57
  5. "Boyfriend '65" – 3:08
  6. "Where Has Love Gone?" – 4:18
  7. "Penny Arcade" – 4:07
  8. "Do It for Love" – 3:47
  9. "You're A Hit" – 3:30
  10. "The Great Love Story" – 4:59
  11. "Perfume (Aromatherapy Mix 7" Edit)" – 4:26
  12. "Funky Paradise" – 4:15
  13. "The People Want to Dance (Apollo 440 Remix 7" Edit)" – 4:22

Disc 2 – Remixes and Rarities[edit]

  1. "Where Has Love Gone? (The Search For Love Mix)" – 7:28
  2. "Where Has Love Gone? (Dreaming Mix)" – 4:20
  3. "Where Has Love Gone? (GTO Mix)" – 6:34
  4. "Across the Universe (Space A Go-Go Mix)" – 6:34
  5. "Across the Universe (Peter Lorimer 7" Remix)" – 3:59
  6. "Across the Universe (Peter Lorimer 12" Instrumental)" – 7:04
  7. "The People Want to Dance (Rave Hard! Mix)" – 3:25
  8. "The People Want to Dance (Raving Harder! Mix)" – 5:12
  9. "The People Want to Dance (Apollo 440 12" Mix)" – 6:23
  10. "The People Want to Dance (12" Dubmix)" – 5:55
  11. "Americanos (Magimix Dub)" – 4:11
  12. "Atomic City (Enviro-Mental Instrumental)" – 6:37
  13. "Natural (Full Song Mix)" – 3:33

Disc 3 – DVD – Promotional Videos[edit]

  1. "Where Has Love Gone? (Promo Video)"
  2. "Across the Universe (Promo Video)"
  3. "Blast Promo"

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[21]
Select 2/5 stars[8]
Unknown Magazine (UK) unfavourable[22]
Unknown Magazine #2 (UK) 2/5 stars[23]
Unknown Magazine (Germany) 3/5 stars[24]
Record Collector 2/5 stars[24]

Jon O'Brien of AllMusic reviewed the album and stated "Even taking into account the fact that the dated production would have sounded a little fresher back in the early '90s, it's not difficult to see why the label appeared to have such a lack of confidence. Inspired by the surrealist film of the same name' and packed full of cultural and literary references, Johnson may be under the impression he's creating a piece of pop art, but in reality, its ten tracks are more Rolf Harris than Andy Warhol. Not exactly helped by Andy Richards and Dan Hartman's game show theme-style production, all synthetic brass, spacy bleeps, and tinny beats, the likes of "Where Has Love Gone?" and "Do It for Love" sound like Erasure B-sides, "Penny Arcade" and "The People Want to Dance" are weak attempts at gospel-tinged disco-pop, while it's hard to believe that the wishy-washy anodyne ballad, "I Need Your Love," is penned by the same man behind the anthemic "The Power of Love." It's not a complete write-off. "Boyfriend 65" is a charmingly breezy piece of tropical pop featuring some enchanting backing vocals from the late Kirsty MacColl, the acid-house inspired "When the Party's Over" shows that Johnson was at least aware of the burgeoning rave scene at the time, while "You're a Hit" is a pleasantly melodic affair which sits somewhere between the melodramatic new wave of ABC and the arch synth pop of Pet Shop Boys. But they're only mildly diverting rather than knock-outs and, with nothing here even approaching a "Love Train" or "Americanos," let alone a "Relax" or "Two Tribes," it's a disappointingly bland affair from an artist whose previous career was anything but."[21]

For one UK magazine, writer Steve Malins reviewed the album, under the "Rock Reviews" section, stating "The title's correct. Money can't buy the dreams of a Bolan, Warhol and July Garland fixated scally who managed to escape the humdrum only through a gently wicked mixture of camp glamour, pervy promo-vids and orgasmic howls. Johnson's exuberance and low humour made FGTH much more than Trevor Horn's expensive executive toy. But as the engaging hedonist became a self-conscious aesthetic (with a growing art collection), the quirkiness was replaced by big but banal sounds, big but banal choruses and videos with plenty of big, bright colours. Poorly executed clichés, concepts and arty namechecks are de rigueur here. William Burroughs, Jacques Brel and Warhol are cited to the end only of a "love conquers all, be free to party but don't get wasted on drugs" disco-blast. Occasionally this is effective, but it often lacks badly for the sleaze and titillation of "Relax". Even the camp humour of "Across the Universe" sounds hideously dated and forced. Sorry – but "astronauts in love" and "Major Tom riding an atomic bomb?" Do me a favour!"[22]

Select magazine writer Andrew Harrison reviewed the album under the headline "Space Cowboy". He stated "Game show host, children's entertainer, randy space cadet, good-hearted comic-strip villain, doe-eyed lover... there's something of everything in the 1991 model Holly Johnson. Everything, that is, but the greedy-eyed KY boy in leather undies who set out to corrupt and deprave the youth of a nation in 1984. Frankie Goes To Hollywood seems a long time ago when you listen to "Dreams That Money Can’t Buy", and not always for the right reasons. Holly has scrupulously cleaned up his act since the messy demise of Frankie. "Blast", his first solo LP in 1989, was all muscular power pop in the then-fashionable House-free idiom. But it aged quicker than cheese on a radiator, and all the Andy Richards – sponsored hot House injections on "Dreams" don't dispel the fear of a similar fate. The same problem remains: Holly loves the maximum stomp of classic hi-NRG but he can't always translate it adequately into '90s pop. When he can he's on to a real winner, like on the opening single, "Across the Universe", a self explanatory crazy acid whirl in space with much silliness and bucketfuls of Holly's adorable camp naffness: "Astronauts in love!" he croons inimitably, as small aliens swoon and cheer from a passing asteroid. But by the time you're halfway through side one, the dense dancebeats and kitchen-sink arrangements (synth-brass, backing choirs, robo-percussion and unnameable noises by the hodful) will have you reaching for Ativan instead of Ecstasy. The only shade from Holly's blinding disco lights comes in clunky ballads like "I Need Your Love", and Holly the Lovelorn was never as much fun as Holly the Voracious Sex Puppy. Nor was Holly the Patron of the Arts. "Boyfriend '65" was apparently birthed when Holly applied William Burroughs' fold-in method to the Boyfriend Annual 1965, which doesn't excuse such a pasty-faced love-tune but certainly gets a Brits nomination for Most Pretentious And ill-Advised Songwriting Device. Contrary to popular belief, Holly has a voice and a half and it seems crazy to swamp it like this. Put him in the studio with Frankie Knuckles next time and perhaps he'll come to terms with the '90s as well as he did the '80s."[8]

Another unknown UK magazine saw writer Lloyd Bradley stating "Given the current dance music dominated pop climate, now ought to be on ideal time for Holly Johnson's second solo release and the continuation of his obsession with himself as a disco diva. He might have pulled it off had it involved a substantial reinvention of himself and his style, courtesy of a currently hot producer. But, in opting for his trademark nasally vocals over the frantic beat that used to be called HiNRG, he seems to hove lost the plot – it's dance music's insatiable appetite for change that keeps it going, hence the unnaturally high casualty rate. Add to that the rather thin production values applied to Johnson’s music and it becomes obvious how much he needs the protection of a big surrounding sound. Here, what was previously suspect is strained, breathless and so badly controlled it's cruelly exposed as weak. Consequently, the only track that holds the attention is the ballad I Need Your Love – a clever combination of crisp beats and smooth strings. Maybe he's simply a couple of years past his sell-by date."[23]

One German magazine stated "The harsh sound of Holly Johnson's former band Frankie Goes to Hollywood is still further away on his second LP. On the disc is ten shimmering, dazzling, elegant styled dance pop numbers. Tests "The Great Love Story"!"[24]

Terry Staunton of Record Collector magazine reviewed the 2011 re-issue of the album, and stated "There's an argument that Johnson's initial solo career mirrored that of his time with Frankie Goes To Hollywood; ie, a debut album full of ideas and vitality followed by a second with very little going for it. Certainly, 1991's "Dreams..." was lacking the joyousness of "Blast" from two years earlier, though that may be partly due to the singer's deteriorating relationship with his label. Johnson had split from MCA by the time the record hit the shops, citing a lack of financial or promotional support, and the album proved to be a lacklustre swansong. Both "Across the Universe" and "Where Has Love Gone?" come across as half-formed synth dance workouts, their elevation to single status baffling. Johnson is said to have wanted "Penny Arcade" as a 45, and its staccato energy (shades of ABC) is infinitely more suited to daytime radio play. There's little variation in the overall sound, the drama of Johnson's voice struggling to find comfort in the soulless, mechanical rhythms, only ever making a strong impression on the tropical pop of "Boyfriend '65", a fun duet with Kirsty MacColl."[25]


  • Lead Vocals, Executive Producer, Writer – Holly Johnson
  • Producer – Andy Richards (tracks 1 to 6, 8 to 10)
  • Engineer – Mike "Spike" Drake (tracks 1 to 6, 8 to 10)
  • Assistant Engineer – Christian Allen, Heidi Cavanough, Peter Lewis, Richard Morris, Stephen Bray
  • Keyboard Programming – Andy Richards, Holly Johnson, Nick Bagnall
  • Engineer on "Penny Arcade" – Mark McGuire
  • Producer on "Penny Arcade" – Dan Hartman
  • Photography – Richard Houghton
  • Artwork Design – Me Company
  • Design – Paul Bevoir
  • Management – Wolfgang Kühle
  • Project Manager – Barney Ashton
  • Background vocals – Beverly Skeete, Claudia Fontaine, Derek Green, Don Snow, Stevie Lange, Glenn Gregory; Kirsty MacColl on "Boyfriend 65"


  1. ^ "Biography". Holly Johnson. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  2. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Dreams That Money Can't Buy". The Official Charts Company. 10 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Holly Johnson | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Holly Johnson – Dreams That Money Can't Buy (Expanded Edition) (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 2011-09-17. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  5. ^ "Holly Johnson – Dreams That Money Can't Buy (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  6. ^ "Holly Johnson – Blast (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  7. ^ a b "The Alternate Boards – Some Questions Answered By Holly". Fgthq.de. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  8. ^ a b c "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Space cowboy". Zttaat.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  9. ^ http://www.theartsdesk.com/new-music/theartsdesk-qa-musician-holly-johnson
  10. ^ "Holly Johnson – Dreams That Money Can't Buy at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  11. ^ "fgth home page". Frankie-say.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  12. ^ "fgth home page". Frankie-say.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  13. ^ "fgth home page". Frankie-say.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  14. ^ "Holly Johnson Dreams That Money Can't Buy Japan Promo CD album (CDLP) (291765)". Eil.com. 2004-06-17. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  15. ^ "iTunes – Music – Dreams That Money Can't Buy (Bonus Tracks Edition) by Holly Johnson". Itunes.apple.com. 1960-02-09. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  16. ^ "Images for Holly Johnson – Dreams That Money Can't Buy". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  17. ^ "Dreams That Money Can't Buy: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  18. ^ "Holly Johnson Gets Rereleased Lease on Life". Spinner. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  19. ^ "Cherry Red Records – Holly Johnson, Dreams That Money Can't Buy: Three Disc Expanded Edition, Dance/Pop-Rock, SFE". Cherryred.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  20. ^ "Holly Johnson Americanos Japan 3" CD single (CD3) (547711)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  21. ^ a b O'Brien, Jon. "Dreams That Money Can't Buy – Holly Johnson : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  22. ^ a b "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Dreams that money can't buy". Zttaat.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  23. ^ a b "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Dreams That Money Can't Buy". Zttaat.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  24. ^ a b c "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Holly Johnson: Dreams that money can't buy". Zttaat.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  25. ^ "Dreams That Money Can't Buy – Record Collector Magazine". Recordcollectormag.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07.