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Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Nite Retro

Happy Friday to you all and welcome to this week's edition of Friday Nite Retro! Tonight's featured artist formed in the UK in 1977, and once had a total of eleven members! I'll save the details on most of that and fast forward to 1983, when the three members we're all familiar with became. . .The Thompson Twins. Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie, and Joe Leeway were the trio that led the band throughout it's popularity in the mid '80's.

They broke into the UK Singles Chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at the beginning of 1983 with "Lies" and "Love On Your Side". Further singles from their third album, "Side Kicks", followed with "We Are Detective" and "Watching". Bailey's flame-red hair and bright ponytail and Currie's wasp-swatting style at the xylophone swiftly becoming endearing images of an exciting new act. Bailey primarily wrote the music (with significant enough input from Leeway that he received co-authorship credit on all tracks), and Currie contributed most of the lyrics. Leeway was also responsible for the band's exciting live visuals.


At the end of 1983, the single "Hold Me Now" was released. An extremely simple love song with gentle guitar lines, it marked a clear break from the Thompson Twins' previously hard-edged electronic sound. "Hold Me Now" relied almost wholly on an emotive piano, some clever percussion from Currie, and heartfelt vocals from Bailey. It hit the top three and remains one of the more timeless singles from an era and decade which tends to date a little more easily than others.

Hold Me Now

Four equally mature singles followed into 1984: the pop hit "Doctor! Doctor!", the quirky "You Take Me Up", the haunting "Sister of Mercy", and "The Gap". The corresponding album, "Into The Gap", was one of the bestsellers of the year, selling five million units worldwide. The album sold more copies than many of their contemporary's offerings, including Duran Duran's "Seven and the Ragged Tiger", Eurythmics' "Touch", and Culture Club's "Colour by Numbers".

Doctor! Doctor!

The late 1984 single "Lay Your Hands On Me" saw the band attempt to build on their success, but an insensitive theme (showing the band draped in jewels) contrasted sharply with the prevalent theme of Live Aid currently obsessing the music press at the time. The single did well, making the US top ten, but was in many ways a rewrite of previous material. The trio had peaked.

Lay Your Hands on Me

Working on the follow up to "Into The Gap", Bailey suffered a nervous breakdown. Nile Rodgers was called in to help finish the album,"Here's to Future Days", which appeared in 1985. This album spawned the top ten track "King For a Day". Other singles included the anti-drug message "Don't Mess With Doctor Dream" and a cover of The Beatles' 1968 hit "Revolution". The Thompson Twins made headlines when they performed at the American-end of Live Aid and were joined onstage by the fresh-faced Madonna, who was in only her second year of fame.

King For a Day

Leeway left the band in 1986, and the remaining duo carried on making music for another seven years, occasionally puncturing the singles charts and twice making the U.S. Top Forty. 1987 saw the release of "Close To the Bone" and the single "Get That Love" which made it to number thirty-one in the U.S.. 1989 saw the release of another album, "Big Trash", and a new record deal with Warner Brothers Records. The single "Sugar Daddy" peaked at number twenty-eight in the USA and would be their last brush with mainstream chart success.

Sugar Daddy

In 1988, Bailey and Currie had their first child together, and in the following years they spent a lot of time writing material for other artists including the hit single "I Want That Man" for Debbie Harry. In 1991,they married in Las Vegas and the following year moved to New Zealand with their two children. In 1992, the Thompson Twins contributed the song "Play With Me" to the soundtrack of the Ralph Bakshi film "Cool World"; Tom Bailey alone contributed a second track, "Industry and Seduction".

Play With Me

The following year, the group finally formally disbanded, and Bailey and Currie teamed up with engineer Keith Fernley to form a new group called Babble. The Thompson Twins have declined to follow the examples of many of their contemporaries and reform to tie-in with a nostalgic rebirth of the 1980s.

Babble released two acclaimed albums — "The Stone" in 1993 and "Ether" in 1996, and one of their songs was featured on the film "The Coneheads" with Dan Akroyd. Three quarters of a third album has been recorded, but remains unreleased and in the vaults of Warner Bros. Records.

Babble - Take Me Away

In 1999, Bailey produced and played keyboards on the hit album "Mix" by the New Zealand band Stellar, and won the "producer of the year" award at the New Zealand equivalent of the Grammys. He has also arranged soundtracks and has provided instrumental music for several films. In the mid 1990s, Currie gave up the music business to set up her own glass-casting studio in Auckland.

Bailey and Currie split up in 2003, and are now divorced. They both left New Zealand and live separately in Britain, but are still close friends. . .and with that, the curtain closes on yet another Friday Nite Retro. I truly hope you enjoyed tonight's journey through time!


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Blogger Parson said...

I have a little Firday Night retro type thing going. Just for today because it's May 4.
Kent State

title="comment permalink">May 04, 2007 10:07 PM  
Blogger Hill said...

I gotta tell ya, Good Man, "Hold Me Now" is absolutely one of my all-time faves! Oh, thank you!!!!!!

title="comment permalink">May 05, 2007 9:16 AM  

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