It might seem odd for people outside of the UK and Europe, but Propaganda had hits, and decent hits at that: “Dr. Mabuse”, and “Duel”, and “P-Machinery” were their first three. They may have been barely a footnote for most Americans when it comes to the discussion of 80’s music, but for fans of the Zang Tuum Tumb Empire and the productions of Trevor Horn and Steven Lipson, Propaganda were an important group whose music made an impact on those who chose to “dream within a dream”, and this album represented that. It is a remix album that also served as an alternative perspective to a greatest hits package, something that most artists at the time did not do, at least not until a few more years. The mixes here of their three hits were exclusive to this album, so if you want to hear “Dr. Mabuse”, you could listen to the two-part “Abuse”. If you want “P-Machinery”, you could check out the twists in “Machined”. Or if you liked the “Duel”/”Jewel” single, you could see how it would be blended with “Jewelled”. One of my favorite moments of this mix is in the last chorus where Claudia Brucken‘s screamed vocals of “Jewel” eventually joins and collides with the silkiness of her singing from “Duel” before it comes to an end.
Artists like Bobby Brown and Jody Watley would eventually have remix albums created in their honor, featuring dance mixes you could find on their respective 12″ singles/maxi-cassingles, but Wishful Thinking featured remixes made exclusively for that album. The great thing about synth/dance pop is that even if these mixes were not the single versions, one could enjoy them so you could take an excursion through these songs, remixed so you could hear elements not in the hit, album, remixes, or alternate mixes. It was an additional to the additional. Then as bonuses, you could hear isolated bits from different songs. These isolated segments would be perfect for the DJ’s who would play this material, and today for bedroom producers/remixers to create their own megamixes.
The original Wishful Thinking was just under 40 minutes, but this Deluxe Edition features different mixes and outtakes of songs from the early Propaganda era, including outtakes of “Strength To Dream” and “Dr. Mabuse”, along with celebrated remixes of “P-Machinery” (the respected Beta mix) and instrumentals. There’s now a total of 74 minutes of music here.
If one ever had the balls to ask “how in the hell can you create a greatest hits album from a group who only had/released three singles, Wishful Thinking would be a possible answer. Yes it’s a remix album that doubles as a greatest hits album. Not a mere EP, but a full album that can honestly be experienced as a full album. It may not have the same feel or context as A Secret Wish, but within the realm of Propaganda and ZTT, as a voice said in a remix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s “Rage Hard”, “anything can happen”.
For those outside of Europe who may only know of Propaganda as a mere footnote, this is the perfect place to start to discover what they created. It’s music, it’s exploitation, it’s temptation, it’s tomfoolery, it’s powerful, it’s egotistical, it’s sensational, and it was something quite moving. They also made songs that still drive people crazy because of how emotional Brucken’s voice is, singing lyrics that are powerful now as they were when this was originally released.