Tom Tom Club

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Tom Tom Club
Tina Weymouth with Tom Tom Club, 1986
Tina Weymouth with Tom Tom Club, 1986
Background information
OriginUnited States
Years active1981–present
LabelsSire/Reprise/Warner Bros., Rykodisc, Island, Fontana/PolyGram, Nacional
Spinoff ofTalking Heads
MembersChris Frantz
Tina Weymouth
Bruce Martin
Victoria Clamp
Pablo Martin
Past membersAdrian Belew
Monte Browne
Tyrone Downie
Mark Roule
Gary Pozner
Steve Scales
Steven Stanley
Alex Weir
Mystic Bowie
Laura Weymouth
Lani Weymouth
Charles Pettigrew
Wally Badarou

Tom Tom Club is an American new wave band founded in 1981 by husband-and-wife team Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth and as a side project from Talking Heads.[3] Their best known songs include the UK top 10 hit "Wordy Rappinghood" and the US top 40 hit "Genius of Love", both from their 1981 debut album, and a cover of The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk" that reached the UK top 30.


Formation and debut[edit]

Originally established as a side project from Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club comprised a loose aggregation of musicians, sound engineers, and artists of the Compass Point All Stars family, including Tina Weymouth's sisters and guitarist Adrian Belew, the latter of whom toured with Weymouth and Frantz in the expanded version of Talking Heads in 1980 and 1981. Named after the dancehall in the Bahamas where they rehearsed for the first time while on hiatus from Talking Heads in 1980, Tom Tom Club enjoyed early success in the dance club culture of the early 1980s with the hits "Genius of Love" and "Wordy Rappinghood", both of which were taken from their self-titled first album released on Sire and Warner Bros. Records in the United States and Island Records elsewhere in 1981.[4] Despite being dismissed by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne for its more commercial direction,[5][6] the album was a moderate success, peaking at No. 23 on the Billboard 200 and certified gold by the RIAA.[7]

"Genius of Love" has been sampled or reinterpreted by many artists, including L'Trimm, Redman, Funkdoobiest, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers in "Tumblin' Down", the 12" Remix, and Mariah Carey in her hit single "Fantasy" as well as Mark Morrison in "Return of the Mack". "It's Nasty" (1982) by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was one of the early hip-hop versions of the song; however, it was re-recorded by a live band, as interpolation and not sampling (using the actual original recording) was the more common practice at the time. Another version, "Genius Rap" (1981), by Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, was the first cover version. Max B also sampled "Genius of Love" in his single "Get Outta Jail".

Early British pressings of the first Tom Tom Club album featured shorter versions of "Genius of Love" and "Wordy Rappinghood", but to capitalize on the club success of these songs, Island Records reissued the album with the full 12-inch versions in 1982. A new single, a cover version of The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk", which was the group's second and final UK Top 40 hit, replaced another song "Booming and Zooming". The US version did not contain these modifications until the album was released on compact disc in the 1990s.

"Genius of Love" was featured in the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense (filmed in December 1983). Frantz and Weymouth were credited as Tom Tom Club, but in this case the band was simply Talking Heads minus Byrne.

Close to the Bone[edit]

The following year, the group released a follow-up, Close to the Bone,[4] which was similar in style to their first album but did not fare as well, though "The Man with the Four Way Hips" was a minor hit on urban radio in the United States. The album was released on cassette and vinyl and was not released on CD until May 2009, as part of a Deluxe Edition package of Tom Tom Club's first album. The original British vinyl album was released in six different colors. One of the album's singles, "Pleasure of Love", was sampled in "Turning You On", by the Treacherous Three. As it happened with "It's Nasty", the sample was re-recorded by a live band rather than just taken from the original recording.

Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom and Dark Sneak Love Action[edit]

There was then a four-year gap until the band's next album, the first version of Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom, released in 1988.[4] By this stage, the band's non-US deal with Island had expired and the album was released outside the United States on Fontana/PolyGram. On the album, the group adapted a more conventional rock style with a harder edged sound and a hint of menace in the lyrics of some songs.[4] The group's line-up was also solidified along more conventional commercial lines. Whereas the previous two albums had been recorded by a loose collective of a dozen musicians, the band was now reduced to the trio of Weymouth, Frantz, and Weymouth's sister Laura Weymouth. Members Bruce Martin and Victoria Clamp were part of the recording of this album and there were a number of prominent guest musicians on the record, including Lou Reed and Talking Heads' front man David Byrne on a cover of Reed's "Femme Fatale".[4] The fourth member of Talking Heads, Jerry Harrison, also featured on some tracks. As with Close to the Bone, the album was not a commercial success although "Suboceana" received some radio play, mainly in the UK, and the single "Don't Say No" made the UK Singles Chart (Tom Tom Club's fifth, and to date final, single to do so). The album was the first Tom Tom Club album to be issued on CD and the Japanese CD version featured an added bonus track, the B-side "Devil, Does Your Dog Bite?", which was also featured on the soundtrack to the film Married to the Mob. "Suboceana" and " Don't Say No" were also remixed for dance clubs in Deep House and Acid House styles respectively by house music pioneer Marshall Jefferson in 1988.

The following year, in a bid to recapture the attention of the US market, the group and Sire Records decided to issue a radically altered version of the album in the United States. The US version of Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom replaced four songs with four others, one of which, "I Confess", was a total overhaul of the original album's "Mighty Teardrop". The running order of the rest of the album was shuffled while the artwork was revamped. However, the changes had little effect on the album's US commercial success.

In 1991, Frantz and Weymouth built the Clubhouse, a painting and music studio, over their garage near Gamecock Island, Connecticut.[4] In 1992, they released the fourth Tom Tom Club album, Dark Sneak Love Action,[4] which included a cover of Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing". The album focused on the burgeoning techno music scene. A single, "Sunshine and Ecstasy", featured remixes by Roger Sanchez.

The Good, the Bad, and the Funky and present activities[edit]

The group's next album, The Good, the Bad, and the Funky, was released in 2000[4] and featured cover versions of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" and Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Soul Fire". One of the album's tracks, "Who Feelin' It", was also featured in remixed form in the soundtrack album of the 2000 film American Psycho. Among the musicians on The Good, the Bad, and the Funky are Jamaican singer Mystic Bowie, Charles Pettigrew[4] and Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals. The album's release was followed by one European and several American tours. Tom Tom Club also recorded a cover of Phish's "Sand" for a benefit CD, helping them bring in a new, jamband audience.[8]

In 2002, Frantz and Weymouth, along with their former Talking Heads bandmates, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A complete live concert was released in 2003 on the double CD Live @ the Clubhouse, recorded at Tom Tom Club's regular hide-out studio, the Clubhouse in Connecticut, in front of an audience of fifty guests. Since then, Tom Tom Club has done incidental live shows.

In 2007, the band released a special Christmas single called "Mistletunes", containing two specially recorded Christmas songs: "Il est né" and "Christmas in the Club", which featured Mystic Bowie and scratcher/turntableist Kid Ginseng (Weymouth and Frantz's son, Robin). The single was released by Dutch indie label La La Land Records, which was founded by the former Tom Tom Club merchandise crew. In 2009, a deluxe expanded edition of the band's first album was released, with Close to the Bone added on disc 2. That marked the first time the latter was ever released on CD in its entirety. On September 28, 2010, the band released Genius of Live on Nacional Records. The album featured tracks from the album Live @ the Clubhouse as well as remix tributes of "Genius of Love" by such artists as Ozomatli, Nortec Collective, Kinky, Mexican Institute of Sound, Money Mark and The Pinker Tones.

Their first studio material in twelve years, Downtown Rockers, was released in 2012 on Nacional Records and featured guitarist Pablo Martin and keyboard player Bruce Martin.[9][10]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions Certifications
1981 Tom Tom Club
  • Released: June 23, 1981
  • Labels: Island (UK), Sire (US)
23 51 18 32 78
1983 Close to the Bone
  • Released: August, 1983
  • Labels: Island (UK), Sire (US)
73 49 96 31 42
1988 Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom
  • Released: 1988
  • Labels: Fontana (UK), Sire (US)
114 60
1992 Dark Sneak Love Action
  • Released: May 26, 1992
  • Labels: WEA (UK), Sire (US)
2000 The Good, the Bad, and the Funky
  • Released: September 12, 2000
  • Labels: Rykodisc
2012 Downtown Rockers
  • Released: September 4, 2012
  • Labels: Nacional
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

  • 2003: Live @ the Clubhouse
  • 2010-09-28: Genius of Live


Year Title Chart positions Album
US Dance
1981 "Wordy Rappinghood" 102 1 44 1 9 18 2 35 7 Tom Tom Club
"Genius of Love" 31 26 28 65
1982 "Under the Boardwalk" 31 6 3 42 9 3 22
1983 "The Man with the Four Way Hips" 106 4 82 Close to the Bone
"Pleasure of Love" 23
1988 "Don't Say No" 79 Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom
"Suboceana" 4
1989 "Call of the Wild"
1992 "Sunshine and Ecstasy" 9 Dark Sneak Love Action
"You Sexy Thing"
2000 "Love to Love You Baby" The Good, the Bad, and the Funky
"Happiness Can't Buy Money"
2007 "Mistletunes"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Forgotten Classic: Tom Tom Club 'Tom Tom Club'". Classical Albums Sunday. March 15, 2019. Retrieved May 24, 2022. If Talking Heads was the antidote to conceptually dull rock 'n roll, Tom Tom Club was the remedy to its art school preoccupation. Formed in 1981 by husband and wife duo, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, the rhythm-section splinter group sought a more honest and explicit connection to their funk and r&b roots.
  2. ^ a b Paul, Alan (July 31, 2020). "Chris Frantz on the Rise and Fall of Talking Heads". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  3. ^ "Timeline | Biography - Official web site of the Tom Tom Club". Archived from the original on February 22, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 465. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
  5. ^ Greene, Andy (July 6, 2020). "Talking Heads Drummer Chris Frantz on His New Memoir and the Last Time He Saw David Byrne". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Farber, Jim (July 21, 2020). "Chris Frantz: 'If you knew David Byrne, you would not be jealous of him'". The Guardian. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Albums. Record Research Incorporated. p. 1059. ISBN 0-89820-166-7.
  8. ^ "The Core: Tom Tom Club". October 25, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  9. ^ Jasminoy, Fernando (2 December 2014). Música: Un argentino en Harlem: Pablo Martín, guitarrista de Tom Tom Club [Music: An Argentine in Harlem: Pablo Martín, guitarist of Tom Tom Club] (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 5 January 2023. Retrieved 5 January 2023. Desde 2011, el guitarrista de Tom Tom Club, la banda alternativa de Chris Frantz y Tina Weymuth, baterista y bajista de los Talking Heads, es Pablo Martín, un músico e ingeniero de sonido argentino que vive en Harlem, Nueva York. [Since 2011, the guitarist of Tom Tom Club, the alternative band of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymuth, drummer and bassist of the Talking Heads, is Pablo Martín, an Argentine musician and sound engineer who lives in Harlem, New York.] {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  10. ^ "News | WATCH: New Tom Tom Club EP". The Quietus. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d "Tom Tom Club > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 311. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". RPM. Retrieved June 23, 2015. (See issue October 01 1983 for Close to the Bone and May 22, 1989 for Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom.)
  14. ^ a b "Discography Tom Tom Club". Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  15. ^ "Discography Tom Tom Club". Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Official Charts Company - Tom Tom Club". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  17. ^ "American certifications – Tom Tom Club". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  18. ^ "Discographie Tom Tom Club -". (in German). Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  19. ^ " - Discografie Tom Tom Club". (in Dutch). Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  20. ^ "InfoDisc: Tout les Titres par Artiste". (in French). Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  21. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: T". (in Italian). Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  22. ^ "Discografie Tom Tom Club -". (in Dutch). Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  23. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 561. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.

External links[edit]