This is a slightly off beat choice, I’m pretty confident out of the millions of people sharing the albums they loved while growing up, very few have chosen Laughter, Tears and Rage by Act. Mainly because it sold about 100 copies and I’m not sure it was even that good.
In 1988 I was in the first year of sixth form and had got into Frankie Goes to Hollywood, three years after they were cool. A mate of mine, Garrick, with whom I have lost touch, introduced me to them. I think I loved collecting the remixes and limited edition picture discs as much as the music. Garrick and I used to hang around Square Records in Wimborne which was run by a lovely guy called Paul Holman. Paul’s dad, Roger, ran the electrical shop where I worked one Christmas while at university. Square records was a fabulous place, no pressure to buy and you could just hanging around chatting to the staff about upcoming music.
I’m digressing a bit so let me get back to Act. Act was a collaboration between Thomas Leer and Claudia Brucken from Propaganda, an 80’s German electro band. Like Propaganda, Act was signed to ZTT, the same label as Frankie Goes to Hollywood. ZTT was run by Paul Morley and the producer Trevor Horn who coincidentally was the front man of the Bugles (remember video killed a radio star?). During my time in the 6th form, Garrick and I travelled up to London and visited the ZTT office where we met the three guys from Frankie that no one remembers.
We also got the train up one Friday evening to watch Act play at Brunel University. The gig was almost empty so the two young fans with Act T-shirts stood out from the few bored students who also went along to watch. Garrick and I spotted Paul Morley at the back of the room so we sat and chatted to him in the interval, he bought us a beer and after the gig he introduced us to his wife, Claudia and to Thomas Leer. As the gig ended after the trains stopped, we made our way to Heathrow airport and slept on benches, pretending to be stranded travellers.
I was going to chose a Frankie album, maybe the lesser known “Liverpool”, but after consideration, I went for this one. I’d better go and listen to it for the first time in 32 years.