Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway, 1984
|Genres||New wave, synthpop, pop, dance-pop|
Warner Bros. Records
|Associated acts||Debbie Harry
|Past members||See "Members"|
Thompson Twins were a British new wave group that formed in April 1977 and disbanded in May 1993. They achieved considerable popularity in the mid-1980s, scoring a string of hits in the United Kingdom, the United States, and around the globe.
The band was named after the two bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson in Hergé's comic strip The Adventures of Tintin. At various stages, the band had up to seven members though their best known incarnation was as a trio between 1982–86. They became a prominent act in the so-called Second British Invasion, and in 1985, the band performed at Live Aid where they were joined onstage by Madonna.
- 1 Career
- 2 Criticism
- 3 After the Twins
- 4 2014 tour
- 5 In other media
- 6 Members
- 7 Discography
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 See also
- 10 References
In 1977, the original Thompson Twins line-up consisted of Tom Bailey (born 18 January 1954, Halifax, Yorkshire) on bass and vocals, Pete Dodd on guitar and vocals, John Roog on guitar, and Jon Podgorski (known as "Pod") on drums. Dodd and Roog first met when they were both 13 years old.
Arriving in London with very little money, they lived as squatters in Lillieshall Road, London. Future Thompson Twins member Alannah Currie (born 20 September 1957, Auckland, New Zealand) lived in another squat in the same street — which is how she met Bailey. It was in this ramshackle and run-down house that they found an illegal way of "borrowing" electricity from the house next door. Bailey described themselves (laughingly) as spongers (meaning that they were on the dole—unemployed) back then, as they were living on very little and scavenging everything they could lay their hands on. He even said that the only instruments they had were bought, or had been stolen or borrowed. Dodd managed to get a council flat not far away. Their roadie at that time was John Hade, who lived in the same house, and who later became their manager.
As Podgorski had decided to stay in the north, the group auditioned for drummers at the Point Studio in Victoria, London. Andrew Edge joined them on drums for less than one year, and went on to join Savage Progress, who later toured with the Thompson Twins as their support act on the 1984 UK tour.
In 1980, the band (now consisting of Bailey, Dodd, Roog and new drummer Chris Bell) released their first single "Squares and Triangles" on their own DIrty Discs label. A follow-up single, "She's In Love With Mystery", was issued later that year.
By 1981, the line-up was Bailey, Dodd, Roog, Bell and two new members: former band roadie Joe Leeway on congas and percussion, and Jane Shorter on saxophone. This line-up recorded the first Thompson Twins album A Product of ... (Participation), documented in the film, Listen to London (1981). Currie, who had been associated with the band for a few years, played and sang on the first album, but was not yet a full member.
After the first album, the band's line-up shifted yet again. Saxophonist Jane Shorter left, percussionist Currie was made an official member, and bassist Matthew Seligman, a former member of The Soft Boys and The Fallout Club, joined. Bailey moved to keyboards and guitar in addition to serving as lead vocalist, with Leeway handling vocals on a few tracks.
The band signed to Arista Records and released the album Set. Thomas Dolby played some keyboards on Set and some live gigs, as Bailey had little experience with synthesizers before then. Set contained the single "In the Name of Love", sung and largely written by Bailey. It became a No. 1 dance club hit in the US, and an album entitled In the Name of Love (consisting mainly of tracks from Set, with two others from A Product Of... (Participation)) was released in the US to capitalize on the song's popularity. It entered the US Billboard 200.
Reduction to a trio
After the success of "In the Name of Love", Bailey, Currie and Leeway, wanting to pursue the single's different sound, toyed with the idea of starting a new band on the side, which they planned to call 'The Bermuda Triangle'. When "In The Name Of Love" (and the parent album Set) failed to make a substantial impact in the UK record charts, this plan was abandoned. However, at the same time, manager Hade convinced Bailey, Leeway and Currie to downsize the Thompson Twins to a core of the three in April 1982. Accordingly, the other four members of the band were notified that they were being let go; they were each paid £500 and were allowed to keep their instruments and equipment.
The Thompson Twins decided to go abroad to free themselves of any UK influence, as well as to combine the songwriting for their first album as a trio with a long holiday. They first went to Egypt and then to the Bahamas where they recorded at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau with the producer, Alex Sadkin.
The band broke into the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at the beginning of 1983 with "Lies" and "Love On Your Side", which became the band's first UK Top 10 single. They then released their third album, Quick Step and Side Kick (called simply Side Kicks in the US), which peaked at number 2 in the UK and was later certified platinum there. Further singles followed with "We Are Detective" (another Top 10 UK hit) and "Watching". All three received songwriting credits, though the band publicly acknowledged Bailey as the songwriter, with Currie contributing lyrics and Leeway focusing on the stage show. During 1983, the band had the opening spot on The Police concert tour in the US.
A new single, "Hold Me Now", was released towards the end of 1983. The song was an international chart success, peaking at No. 4 in their native UK where it became the band's biggest seller earning a gold disc, and reached No. 3 in the US in the spring of 1984 becoming their biggest American hit. The band's new album, Into the Gap, was released in early 1984 and became one of the year's biggest sellers, selling five million copies worldwide. It topped the UK Albums Chart and was later certified double platinum there. Further hit singles from the album followed with "Doctor! Doctor!" (UK No. 3) and "You Take Me Up" (UK No. 2, their highest UK singles chart placing and which earned a silver disc). Other singles included a new version of the album track "Sister of Mercy" (UK No. 11), and "The Gap" (though this was not released in the UK). The band embarked on a world tour in support of the album, which had also made the US top ten.
A new single, "Lay Your Hands On Me", was released in the UK in late 1984 and reached No. 13 in the UK charts. However, while working on the follow-up album to Into The Gap, Bailey suffered a collapse from exhaustion. The band's planned next single, "Roll Over", was then cancelled at the last minute. The band had already parted company with their producer Alex Sadkin, and Nile Rodgers was subsequently called in to help finish the album. Released in September 1985, Here's To Future Days reached the Top 5 in the UK and the Top 20 in the US, though failed to come close to the success of Into The Gap. It spawned the single "King For A Day", which peaked at No. 22 in the UK, but reached No. 8 on the US chart Other singles included a new US version of "Lay Your Hands On Me" (US No. 6), the anti-drug song "Don't Mess With Doctor Dream" (UK No. 15) and an unsuccessful cover of The Beatles' 1968 hit "Revolution" which became the band's first single to fail to make the UK Top 40 in three years.
Prior to the album's release, the Thompson Twins made headlines when they performed on the American leg of Live Aid in July 1985 and were joined onstage by Madonna. The planned 1985 tour of the UK had to be cancelled due to Bailey's collapse from exhaustion (fans with tickets received a free live album as compensation), though international dates were re-scheduled and the latter half of 1985 saw sell out tours for the band in the US and Japan.
Leeway left the band in 1986, and the remaining duo of Bailey and Currie carried on making music for another seven years. 1987 saw the release of Close to the Bone and the single "Get That Love", which climbed to No. 31 in the US but failed in the UK. "In the Name of Love" was given a new lease on life in 1988, after a remix by Shep Pettibone made the Top 50 in the UK. 1989 saw the release of another album, Big Trash, and a new recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. The single "Sugar Daddy" peaked at No. 28 in the US and would be their last brush with mainstream chart success. 1991's Queer would be the band's swansong, and was supported by various techno inspired singles under the moniker of Feedback Max (in the UK) to disguise the identity of the band to club DJs. The single "Come Inside" reached No. 7 in the US Dance Chart and No. 1 in the UK Dance Chart. However, once it was discovered that the Thompson Twins were behind the record, sales dropped and the album never had a UK release.
Prior to this, Bailey and Currie (who were now a couple) had their first child together in 1988, 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 1989. In 1990, Bailey and Currie contributed the song "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" to the Cole Porter tribute album "Red Hot + Blue" produced by the Red Hot Organization. In 1991, Bailey and Currie were 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; Bailey alone contributed a second track, "Industry and Seduction". The following year, the duo formally teamed up with engineer Keith Fernley and changed their band name to Babble.
The Thompson Twins declined to follow the examples of many of their contemporaries and reform to tie-in with a nostalgic rebirth of the 1980s, although Bailey, Currie and Leeway appeared together on the UK Channel 4 show Top Ten Electro Bands in 2001. The Thompson Twins were placed ninth.
The British music press regularly criticised the Thompson Twins. The NME called them, "1984's most instantly kitsch mass program of monosodium glutamation of the brain". City Limits said they were "candy-floss art capitalists", whilst The Guardian dubbed them "The three haircuts".
After the Twins
Babble released two albums — The Stone (1993) and Ether (1996) — with songs featured in the films Coneheads and With Honors. Three quarters of a third album was recorded, but it remains unreleased.
In the mid-1990s, Currie gave up the music business to set up her own glass-casting studio in Auckland. After her sister died of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, Currie founded a group in New Zealand called Mothers Against Genetic-Engineering in Food and the Environment (also known as MADGE), which soon had thousands of members. Currie described this group as a "rapidly growing network of politically non-aligned women who are actively resisting the use of genetically-engineered material in our food and on our land". An advert for this group featuring a young woman with four breasts hooked up to a milking machine became famous after appearing on billboards across New Zealand. Bailey and Currie split up in 2003, and are now divorced. They both left New Zealand to live separately in Britain, but are still close friends. In 2011, Currie married Jimmy Cauty (formerly of The KLF) and as of then was a trained upholsterer known professionally as "Miss Pokeno".
In 1999, Bailey produced and played keyboards on the album Mix by the New Zealand band Stellar*, and won the Producer of the Year Award at the 2000 New Zealand Music Awards. He has also arranged soundtracks and has provided instrumental music for several films. He continues to make music under the moniker International Observer and has released the albums Seen (2001), All Played Out (2005), and Felt (2009). He also performs with the Holiwater group from India. Remarried (to artist Lauren Drescher), he currently resides in London.
After leaving the Thompson Twins in 1986, Leeway briefly dabbled in acting and attempted a solo music career, though neither were successful. As of 2006[update], he resides in Los Angeles, California, and works in the field of hypnotherapy. He is on the staff at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI) in Tarzana, California, and is also a certified trainer in neuro-linguistic programming.
The earlier members went on to do other things:
- Dodd and Roog formed a band called Big View (with Edge on drums) and recorded a single called, "August Grass", which was released on Point Records (owned by Merton, the Thompson Twins publisher) in 1982. Dodd is now living back in Chesterfield working as a freelance journalist — and has released his own History of Rock album billed as Peter & the Wolves. Dodd still sees Podgorski on a regular basis.
- Roog lives in London and is in a senior position in Tower Hamlets Adult Services.
- Seligman worked for a law firm in London, and has played in The Soft Boys reunions as well as releasing his own albums, but has moved to Japan with his Japanese wife and their daughter. In 2009, he contributed to the new Thomas Dolby album.
- Bell moved from London to Bath, and played in or for Spear of Destiny, Gene Loves Jezebel and Hugh Cornwell. He also works as a landscape gardener.
- Booth is, reportedly, living in Shanghai and is the general manager of a music publishing company.
- Podgorski still lives in Chesterfield.
- Edge has a singing career with Drumsing, as well as being an English Conversation teacher in Linz, Austria.
UK festival date
Tom Bailey is to play Rewind South on 17 August 2014: The festival at Temple Island Meadows, Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire, runs from 15 to 17 August. Other confirmed acts include Mike And The Mechanics, The Boomtown Rats and Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood). Tickets for the whole weekend cost £100.
USA tour dates
The Regeneration Tour 2014 billed as the Retro Futura Tour in the USA have confirmed that Tom Bailey will be headlining the US tour. The official line up will feature Tom Bailey, Howard Jones, Midge Ure, China Crisis and Katrina (formerly from Katrina and the Waves). The organisers of the summer tour, which is set to begin 19 August and end 13 September, have confirmed that the biggest name on this year's tour is Tom Bailey who has not toured in decades. Tour organizers say he will be performing all the band's biggest hits. Dates for Toronto, Canada, are to be announced.
In other media
On 4 April 2014, Glastonbury legend Michael Eavis admitted during a newspaper interview that the hardest he worked to convince an artist to perform (at Glastonbury Festival) was with the Thompson Twins.
Thompson Twins albums
Original studio albums
- A Product of ... (Participation) (1981)
- Set (1982)
- Quick Step and Side Kick (1983) (a.k.a. Side Kicks in North America, Japan)
- Into the Gap (1984)
- Here's to Future Days (1985)
- Close to the Bone (1987)
- Big Trash (1989)
- Queer (1991)
- In the Name of Love (U.S. only release compiling tracks from the first two albums) (1982)
- The Best of Thompson Twins: Greatest Mixes (1988)
- Hold Me Now (1993)
- Thompson Twins – Greatest Hits (1996)
- Thompson Twins – Singles Collection (1996)
- Love on Your Side - The Best of Thompson Twins (2007)
- The Thompson Twins – An Odd Couple (The Official Biography) by Rose Rouse. Virgin Books, 1985.
- Thompson Twin – An '80's Memoir by Michael White. Publisher: Little, Brown (4 May 2000).
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Dance chart
- List of Second British Invasion Artists
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- "To Die For – She was the crazy-haired singer in 80s synth-pop band the Thompson Twins. Now Alannah Currie is back, in a new incarnation as artist-upholsterer". London: Guardian.co.uk. 26 April 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
- Rick Anderson (8 September 2009). "Felt – International Observer | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
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- "Retro Futura Tour". Facebook. 25 February 1984. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
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- "Glastonbury legend Michael Eavis on Jay Z, The Rolling Stones and why the heyday of UK music festivals has passed (From The Argus)". Theargus.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- "MADONNA MDNA FERRARI 2014 RUBEN VALENTINO FEAT MDNA & THE THOMPSON TWINS". YouTube. 20 June 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- William Ruhlmann. "Babble | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 January 2014.