Good, but will the real Propaganda please stand up!
Geoff Hall | Borehamwood, UK | 02/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you want to listen to the real essence of the music that Propaganda released, then you should listen to "A Secret Wish" and "Outside World", which demonstrates a very European and idiosyncratic sound. 1234 sounds much more generic pop. This could have been recorded by a lot of other bands! Another point to note, I'm not certain this line-up released a follow-up to this album.
Having said all that, the music is good and after a few listens is really catchy and increasingly pleasing to the ear. It is also very well produced. Instrumentally and vocally, there is nothing wrong with it and I can understand why other reviewers have gone overboard and written such nice things about it. I can also appreciate the one or two exceptions who obviously know !Secret Wish". My (not-so-secret) wish is for new material by the original band, but I'll make do with "Outside World".
However, it could have been produced by a whole bunch of artists and groups, which is exactly my point about the band. Only one member of the original band remained when this was produced - Michael Mertens. Susanne Freytag, Claudia Brucken and Ralf Doerper had all left and been replace by others - American vocalist Betsi Miller and ex-Simple Minds players Derek Forbes (bass) and Brian McGee (drums). Nevertheless, tracks such as "Heaven Give Me Words," "Only One Word" and "Wound in My Heart" are examples of Propaganda doing what it did well, well put-together synth-pop.
In conclusion, if you want to have one Propaganda album in your collection - and I strongly suggest they are so good that everyone should do so - then this isn't the one to choose; get one of the two I've mentioned, both of which are masterpieces. "
Good sequel to "Secret wish"
Alexandre Avezou | Paris, France | 04/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""1234" is a good sequel to "A secret wish", although the global mood is different. Only 3 tracks are clear echoes of the previous album (Vicious Circle, Ministry of Fear and La Carne, la Morte...), but the rest remains faithful to the spirit of the 1985'line-up.In reply to a request from Jim R Webb from Alameda, Claudia Brücken made an album with Thomas Leer in 1988: the group was called Act and the album's title was "Laughter, tears and rage". It was a good album, including an excellent single, "Snobbery and decay". They are very hard to find now. ..."
Stimulating and Intoxicating
Jim R. Webb | Alameda, CA USA | 11/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I took a chance on this without listening to it first since other Propaganda music was soooo good. I thought I'd be disappointed because Claudia Brucken was not in the group any longer. I certainly was not. This was one of the first CDs I bought after converting from tape. I just have to ditto all previous reviews. Now if I could only find more music with Claudia Brucken; I heard she went to another group and I heard her voice on 1 single years ago. What was it??? Does anyone know?"
Jim R. Webb | 12/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is the best pop album I have ever heard. Beautiful songs, sophisticated arrangements and great musicians involved. You can hear everything you really love on this album. It was my first album of Propaganda. Now I have all of their recordings and "1234" is still number 1. It is really unusual album. I can recommend it to all the people sensitive to good and beautiful music."
Excellent: In a different way
J. grassa | Salemi, Italy | 09/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't think i am overstating that with their debut, Propaganda acheived a status close to that which Kraftwerk acheived in the 70's, however the band was unfortunately not to remain intact long enough so as to capitalise on the stunning success of their teutonic masterpiece that was "A Secret Wish". After the gigantic production sound of this debut (produced by S. Lipson of Trevor Horn's production house ZTT), this second offering from a radically different Propaganda came as a great surprise to fans when it was released in 1990, a full six years after A Secret Wish. By this time of course both singers (Claudia Brucken and Suzanne Freytag) had departed, which in most bands will always signal a great shift in sound given the voice is a key instrument, but in Prpoaganda's it was even more significant given Brucken's cold and yet luminescent delivery on their debut. In addition, of the two remaining male members only one remained (Mertens) to be then augmented by Derek Forbes (Simple Minds) and Brian McGee, with vocals now be taken up by american expat Betsi Miller.
So 1 2 3 4 - what's it like? Given the radical surgery on the band, it is quite good. Something just short of brilliant in my books. Beautiful and engaging pop songs with a somewhat darker european sensibility. You would never guess Miller is American, which could be due to her German upbringing in a U.S. Naval base in West Germany. With song contributions by Howard Jones and a warm and clean production bu Ian Stanley (Tears for Fears)this a strong collection of quality songs. Without packing the punches of its predecessor, it delivers song after song, to the very end with a beautiful instrumental. I recall the Virgin publicity at the time quoting some reviewer saying "there are no dud tracks on 1234" and I have to wholeheartedly agree. Highly recommended."