Sunday, 14 June 2009

You've got love on your side

Every now and again I'll obsess over an old flame, in this case, the Thompson Twins. They're a band who were massively popular, riding the crest of the wave of British bands dominating the charts worldwide in the 80s, but they never figure in those stupid 'best of' lists put together by musos. Not that it matters compared to sales. But it does mean there's never been the kind of renaissance afforded to them like The Human League, Duran Duran or even Spandau Ballet.

The asexual chemistry of the band probably had something to do with it. Just two boys and a girl making pop records with no inkling of sex. Flame-haired Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie never got it together publicly until the latter stages of the band's career - just when everyone wasn't looking. And Joe Leeway? Well who knows which way he leaned. Neil Tennant once said that sex sold pop but I think it also gives it a longevity. The Thompson Twins had the great music and the strongest image out there, but once style moved in a different direction there was no hook to hang their substance on.

But that image. It was one of the most clever at the time. The logo was instantly recognisable. Like the Rolling Stones' tongue, it was plastered on more merchandise than you could shake a stick at, like this picture disc for Watching. And in retrospect, that image should now be the biggest selling point for a renaissance in their music without them ever having to reform. Think about it. ABBA never need to get back together because the image is so indelible. The same goes for Eurythmics and Soft Cell (they did, late 90s, but no one's counting that). And Elvis doesn't even need to be alive!

A retrospective documentary would be a good start with proper interviews - not like this typically stilted TV-am 'grilling' from Anne Diamond. A good old meaty one examining the pop world at that time. Theirs is a fascinating story (and typical of the 80s) of how an art house band became a mainstream pop success complete with super highs and lows. There's the US success, Tom's breakdown at its height and of course two's company, three's a crowd when Joe left. With three hit albums, Quick Step and Side Kick, Into the Gap and Here's to Future Days containing 4 or 5 hit singles from each, there's plenty of back catalogue to mine.

These days, the Thompson Twins are spread to the three corners of the world: Alannah in London, Tom in France and Joe in LA. There's no need for a tacky VH1 reunion, just a contemplative look back over an illustrious decade over a large glass of Pinot with a few laughs thrown in. For a more in depth look at what they're up to now, go to the Thompson Twins aficionado Kulpop here.

1 comment:

Adem With An E said...

I remember my Aunty had a giant Thompson Twins poster in her room, and the day she tore it down to replace it with one of Elvis Presley, I apparently cried until she fished it out of the bin and gave it to me. I would have been about 7 or something?

Excellent post.