Original Relax sleeve

Total Relaxation

Just how many versions of Relax are there?

We don’t really know.

Since Relax was first released over thirty years ago, it has been subjected to more remixes than probably any track in history. Indeed, the whole concept of singles being available in a range of different mixes simultaneously was invented by Trevor Horn because the original 12″ mix of Relax wasn’t very popular. Since then it’s been revived to promote Frankie Goes To Hollywood compilations in 1993, 2000 and 2009, each with a fresh set of remixes straying further and further from the original. There are now so many versions of Relax that it’s impossible to be sure that we haven’t missed any, so the best we can really do is to count up all the ones we know about.

1983-85

Relax was first released on October 24th 1983, on 7″ (ZTAS 1) and 12″ (12ZTAS 1). The two formats were entirely different; the original 7″ mix was backed by the interview track One September Monday, neither of which appeared anywhere on the 12″. Instead purchasers of the larger format were treated to the sixteen and a half minute long Sex Mix which bore only a passing resemblance to the 7″ and featured semi-improvised lyrics from Holly Johnson in place of the song’s familiar (if repetitive) words. This was backed by a cover of Gerry & The Pacemakers’ Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey and an instrumental version of the 7″ mix of Relax. The very first 12″ pressings played at 33 RPM, later copies at 45.

The sheer length of the Sex Mix prompted producer Trevor Horn to produce a shorter extended version, similar to the 16 minute version but cut down to just over 8 minutes. This version slipped into shops unannounced at the start of 1984 with no change to the record’s sleeve or labels, hence this version is often referred to as the Sex Mix Edit although it is not simply an edited version of the Sex Mix; Johnson’s vocals are entirely different, although still ad libbed.

Relax 12" picture disc

12″ picture disc (12PZTAS 1)

Despite the boast (or warning) in press advertisements that “The 7″ Relax song does not appear anywhere else,” some buyers were disgruntled that they had splashed out on the 12″ and paid the extra for something that clearly wasn’t the hit single they were expecting. With this in mind, Trevor Horn concocted a third 12″ mix which set the pattern for future Frankie 12″ mixes – a long instrumental introduction into a slightly different mix of the hit song. This US Mix is perhaps the best known 12″ version and bears the closest resemblance to the 7″ mix. As with all the 12″ versions it still came with the original “Sex Mix” labels and sleeve and the same two tracks on the B-side, although this version was also released as a 12″ picture disc (12PZTAS 1). To add to the confusion, both the Sex Mix Edit and US Mix are regularly mislabelled – even on official Frankie releases – as the “New York Mix”.

Later in 1984 ZTT issued a cassette single (CTIS 102) which included a unique “Greatest Bits” montage of sections from the instrumental version, Sex Mix Edit and US Mix, followed by the 7″ mix in full, an alternative extract from the One September Monday interview and Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey.

After Two Tribes topped the chart in the summer, Relax soared back up the chart to nestle behind it at number 2. With the renewed interest in the song, ZTT couldn’t resist the urge to remix it again. Originally released as a white label promo (credited as the “Warp Mix”), Relax – The Last Seven Inches (ZTAS 1DJ) was given a very limited commercial release. Inevitably Relax also featured on Frankie’s long awaited début album Welcome To The Pleasure Dome (ZTTIQ 1) in October 1984, although the album version Come Fighting was unexpectedly similar to the 7″ mix, the only noticeable difference being a very slightly different introduction and a missing chorus.

The final original release of Relax came in 1985 when a live version Relax International appeared on the B-side of the Welcome To The Pleasure Dome 12″ single (12ZTAS  7). The same live recording was also issued as a bonus cassette with the Frankie Goes To Hollywood computer game for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 later that year.

1993-94

1993 Relax CD

1993 CD (FGTH 1CD)

In 1993 ZTT, now under the control of Warner Music, marked Relax‘s tenth anniversary with a reissue of the single and an accompanying album Bang! The Greatest Hits Of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Although the 7″ single (FGTH 1) and cassette (FGTH 1C) claimed to include the original 7″ mix, the mix used was in fact slightly different, being closer to the  “Come Fighting” version from Welcome To The Pleasure Dome but with the missing chorus reinstated – this is now referred to as the Classic Mix. It was backed with Relax MCMXCIII, a new mix which differed little from the original other than being marginally faster in tempo.

Rather more contemporary was the Ollie J Mix which was the lead track on the 12″ (FGTH 1T) and also featured on the CD single (FGTH 1CD), while an edit of the mix, Ollie J’s Seven Inches, appeared on a promo 12″ (SAM 1231). Another Ollie J mix, The Trip Ship Edit, appeared on the promo and regular 12″ formats but not the CD, which replaced it with the 1984 US Mix, unhelpfully subtitled ‘the original 12″‘. The long playing formats also included two mixes by German producers Jam & Spoon: the frantic Jam & Spoon Hi N-R-G Mix and the Jam & Spoon Trip-O-Matic Fairy Tale Mix which bafflingly set the vocals from Relax against a riff based around the bassline from Two Tribes!

The success of the reissued Relax (it reached number 5 this time around) meant that Welcome To The Pleasure Dome and Two Tribes were also reissued with new remixes, while The Power Of Love got a timely reissue for the Christmas market. A compilation CD Reload! Frankie: The Whole Twelve Inches in 1994 compiled some – but frustratingly few – of these mixes.

2000-01

Relax 2001 CD

2001 Spanish CD (ZTT/Mocca 23202243)

Frankie unexpectedly returned to the chart in the summer of 2000 with, of all things, a dance remix of The Power Of Love. This prompted another compilation CD Maximum Joy (ZTT 165CD), this time a double set with a bonus disc of contemporary remixes accompanying the original versions on disc one. Surprisingly this set included only one new mix of Relax, the Club 69 Future Anthem Part 1. Remixes of Two Tribes and Welcome To The Pleasure Dome were also issued as singles but this time Relax was overlooked for single release in the UK.

Other remixes were prepared though; a German release The Club Mixes 2000 (Repertoire/ZTT REP 4913) added another disc’s worth of remixes including Mark Et Claude’s Respect Remix of Relax, while the following year’s double set Twelve Inches (ZTT 176CD) included Peter Rauhofer’s Doomsday Club Mix. These two mixes were also released as a Spanish 12″ single (Mocca/ZTT 23202246) while a CD format (Mocca/ZTT 23202243) adds a Doomsday Radio Mix and Doomsday Club Dub Mix to the set. A US release goes even further, the maxi CD (Star 69/London/Sire STAR CD520) also including a Coldcut Remix and an exclusive mix intriguingly titled Saeed & Palash Addictive Journey, while a 12″ (Star 69 STAR 1222) backs the Saeed & Palash Full String Mix with the Coldcut Remix. Finally, disc one of the Maximum Joy compilation formed the basis of an SACD release Rage Hard – The Sonic Collection (ZTT 177SACD)which includes a 5.1 surround sound mix of Relax and all the other tracks on the album.

2009

Relax 2009 12"

2009 12″ (12GLOBE1167)

By 2009 control of ZTT had passed to Universal Music and the whole process began again. The inevitable compilation Frankie Say Greatest (ZTT/Universal/All Around The World 2723027) included two new mixes of Relax, the Chicane Radio Edit and Lockout’s Radio Edit, while a double CD version (2724180) also included the Scott Storch Mix. Three Relax promo CDs were issued with various combinations of new mixes; between them they include the aforementioned three mixes plus a Chicane Remix and Chicane Full Mix, Lockout’s London Mix, three mixes by Jody Den Broden (Radio Mix, Club Mix and Dub Mix), an LMC Remix, Hardino Remix and the Spencer & Hill Remix and Spencer & Hill Remix Edit. But of course it doesn’t end there! A limited edition 12″ release (ZTT/Universal/All Around The World 12GLOBE 1167) is the only place to obtain the Den Broden, Cox, Cantrelle Radio Edit.

Later on…

With ZTT finally back under its own steam thanks to a deal with the Salvo label and Union Square Music, the catalogue was given the proper deluxe treatment starting in 2010 with a deluxe edition of Welcome To The Pleasure Dome (SALVOMDCD03) which gave a CD release to the “Greatest Bits” cassette version as well as the previously unreleased Greek Disco Mix. An alternative Sex Mix Edit appears on the compilation The Art Of The 12″ (SALVODCD213) as well as a limited edition 12″ released in February 2014 (SALVOTWS01). Finally – for now, anyway – The Art Of The 12″ Volume Two (SALVOMDCD27) includes a previously unreleased Relax mix Man Has A Sense For The Discovery Of Beauty, in which some of Chris Barrie’s dialogue from various mixes of War and The Power Of Love are overlaid onto an excerpt of the Relax backing track.

So how many versions of Relax are there?

Adding up all these official releases, Relax exists in a grand total of 42 official versions. There are probably also countless bootleg mixes out there, but we don’t want to get into anything dirty like that…

3 comments on “Total Relaxation

  1. See, this is what I mean about nobody really knowing how many versions there are! I was under the impression that all the 12″ picture discs played the 7:20 US Mix, although they have “Sex Mix” printed on them like all the regular 12″ versions do. Obviously not!

  2. There was also a US 7″ promo of Relax which was an edited version of the 12″ US Mix.

    Can say I’ve ever heard of the pic disc playing the 16 min mix.

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