Thompson Twins

The Thompson Twins are a British band which emerged in the 1980s in the immediate aftermath of New Romanticism, scoring a string of hits and conquering the USA in the process.

They were originally a new-wave act who, after the founding threesome moved south from Sheffield, had so little money that they lived as squatters in London, with the personnel rising to seven members. After a lucky break, they were signed up to Arista records and group leader Tom Bailey (born January 18, 1956) paid off four of the members in return for their instruments.

The remaining trio - singer and main musician Bailey; lyricist and percussionist Alannah Currie (born September 20, 1959); and multi-instrumentalist and stylings guru Joe Leeway (born November 15, 1957) - broke into the UK charts at the beginning of 1983 with "Love On Your Side". Further hits from debut album "Quickstep And Sidekick" followed, with 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.

At the end of 1983, a single "Hold me Now" was released. It defied the trends of the electronic pop which was still dominating the charts, relying almost wholly on an emotive piano, some clever percussion from the New Zealand-born Currie and a heartfelt vocal from Bailey. It hit the Top 3 and remains one of the more timeless singles from an era and decade which tends to date a little more easily than others. Three equally as mature singles followed into 1984 - the poppy "Doctor Doctor"; the quirky, accordion-dominated "You Take Me Up" (at No.2, their biggest UK hit); and the haunting "Sister Of Mercy". The corresponding album, "Into The Gap" was one of the best sellers of the year. The trio had peaked.

In 1985, they had three hits which were palpable compared to the previous year's highs, but still 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. As the most talked about and hippest woman on the planet at the time, her appearance with the Thompson Twins should have helped their cause further, but by the end of the year, by which time they'd enjoyed three US Top 10 hits, they'd plummeted substantially.

Leeway left and the remaining duo soldiered on for another seven years, only occasionally puncturing the singles charts and never again making the Top 40.

Bailey and Currie, despite years of denying romantic inclinations at the height of their fame, got married and now raise their family in New Zealand while still occasionally dabbling in music under the name Babble. The band have, however, declined to follow the examples of many of their contemporaries and reform to tie in with a nostalgic rebirth of the 1980s. The two divorced in 2004.

Much merriment was gained from their name (they took it from the detectives in bowler hats who featured in the Tintin comics) as there were three in the band; none of them were twins; and none of them were called Thompson.


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Much merriment was gained from their name (they took it from the detectives in bowler hats who featured in the Tintin comics) as there were three in the band; none of them were twins; and none of them were called Thompson. 'Til Tuesday essentially broke up after the release of Everything's Different Now, although Mann toured under that name as a solo artist while legal problems with the band's label, Epic, prevented her from beginning work on a solo record. The two divorced in 2004. Shear collaborated with Matthew Sweet on the album's title track; it also features "The Other End (of the Telescope)," a collaboration between Mann and Elvis Costello on which Costello provides a guest vocal. The band have, however, declined to follow the examples of many of their contemporaries and reform to tie in with a nostalgic rebirth of the 1980s. At about the same time, Mann's two-year relationship with singer-songwriter Jules Shear, whom she had been dating since the release of the "Voices Carry" album, came to an end; this breakup somewhat informed the band's final album, 1988's Everything's Different Now, particularly in the song "J for Jules," though Mann has insisted that not every song is about the relationship. Bailey and Currie, despite years of denying romantic inclinations at the height of their fame, got married and now raise their family in New Zealand while still occasionally dabbling in music under the name Babble. After its release Pesce left the band and was replaced by Michael Montes, and guitarists Jon Brion and Clayton Scoble joined the group.

Leeway left and the remaining duo soldiered on for another seven years, only occasionally puncturing the singles charts and never again making the Top 40. By the 1986 follow-up Welcome Home, Mann was beginning to write more of the songs herself and was moving away from the slick New Wave sound of the band's debut, but the album failed to produce any big hits. As the most talked about and hippest woman on the planet at the time, her appearance with the Thompson Twins should have helped their cause further, but by the end of the year, by which time they'd enjoyed three US Top 10 hits, they'd plummeted substantially. As a result, the group won that year's MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. In 1985, they had three hits which were palpable compared to the previous year's highs, but still 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. The band became an early MTV staple with the "Voices Carry" video, which depicts an oppressive boyfriend trying to convert Mann to his upper-class lifestyle; she finally lashes out at him during a concert at Carnegie Hall, standing up from her seat in the audience and belting the lyrics ("He said, shut up! He said, shut up! Oh God, can't you keep it down?...") as she removes her cap to reveal her signature spiky, rat-tailed hair. The trio had peaked. 'Til Tuesday is considered by some as a one-hit wonder because of the success of its debut single, "Voices Carry" (from the 1985 album of the same name); the song is said to have been inspired by an argument between Mann and Hausman, who had broken off a relationship before the album's release.

The corresponding album, "Into The Gap" was one of the best sellers of the year. The group first gained fame six months after its formation when it won radio station WBCN's battle of the bands competition in 1983, and later signed with Epic Records. Three equally as mature singles followed into 1984 - the poppy "Doctor Doctor"; the quirky, accordion-dominated "You Take Me Up" (at No.2, their biggest UK hit); and the haunting "Sister Of Mercy". Its original lineup was bassist/vocalist Aimee Mann, guitarist/vocalist Robert Holmes, keyboardist Joey Pesce and drummer Michael Hausman. It hit the Top 3 and remains one of the more timeless singles from an era and decade which tends to date a little more easily than others. 'Til Tuesday was an American New Wave band formed in Boston in 1982. It defied the trends of the electronic pop which was still dominating the charts, relying almost wholly on an emotive piano, some clever percussion from the New Zealand-born Currie and a heartfelt vocal from Bailey. Coming Up Close: A Retrospective (greatest-hits collection) (1996).

At the end of 1983, a single "Hold me Now" was released. Everything's Different Now (1988). Further hits from debut album "Quickstep And Sidekick" followed, with 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. Welcome Home (1986). The remaining trio - singer and main musician Bailey; lyricist and percussionist Alannah Currie (born September 20, 1959); and multi-instrumentalist and stylings guru Joe Leeway (born November 15, 1957) - broke into the UK charts at the beginning of 1983 with "Love On Your Side". Voices Carry (1985). After a lucky break, they were signed up to Arista records and group leader Tom Bailey (born January 18, 1956) paid off four of the members in return for their instruments.

They were originally a new-wave act who, after the founding threesome moved south from Sheffield, had so little money that they lived as squatters in London, with the personnel rising to seven members. The Thompson Twins are a British band which emerged in the 1980s in the immediate aftermath of New Romanticism, scoring a string of hits and conquering the USA in the process.

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