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PROPAGANDA (Buy CDs by this artist)
Propaganda's Secret Wish (ZTT/Island) 1985
Wishful Thinking (UK ZTT/Island) 1985
1234 (Charisma) 1990
CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN
Love: And a Million Other Things (UK Island) 1991

On their first album, the two men and two women of Germany's Propaganda play intricate, almost orchestral synth-based rock with little impact. As encouraged by ZTT supremos Trevor Horn and Paul Morley, each track is a huge and divergently stylized production number, but none offers much in the way of listening pleasure. The band's character — when any is present — derives mainly from gimmickry (e.g., gory English S&M lyrics on "Duel," Art of Noise-styled mix hysterics on the song's invigorating instrumental version, "Jewel"). Secret Wish includes contributions from Steve Howe, David Sylvian, Glenn Gregory and others, not that you'd notice without reading the credits. Wishful Thinking offers remixes and reworkings of previously released material.

The Propaganda on 1234 is a drastically different outfit — only keyboard player Michael Mertens remains from the original lineup, although two of the former members do make guest contributions. Playing intelligent and slick but rarely exciting music that varies electronically between mainstream Anglo-soul and mainstream dance-rock, the new quartet now features British vocalist Betsi Miller and Simple Minds' rhythm section (Derek Forbes and Brian McGee).

Original Propaganda vocalist Claudia Brücken issued her first solo album in early 1991.

[Terry Rompers]