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. Nick McCabe has mostly remained quiet after the breakup, although he has recently worked with a few artists, notably John Martin and Leeds based band, The Music. The two divorced in 2004. Richard Ashcroft has also enjoyed a successful solo career, debuting with 2000's Alone With Everybody, followed by Human Conditions in 2002. 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. Tong has also appeared as a live replacement for departed Graham Coxon in Blur. 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 the band's final collapse, Simon Jones and Simon Tong formed a new group called The Shining along with former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire.

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. After a year of inactivity, the Verve officially announced the end to their careers in 1999. 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. Ashcroft was unable to exude his powerful stage presence when playing the guitar, and the live shows lacked the energy that existed when the talented McCabe was onstage. 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. Ashcroft took the duties of lead guitar for the rest of the tour, which resulted in unfavorable reviews for the band. The trio had peaked. Things got worse when Nick McCabe suddenly pulled from the tour and decided he couldn't tolerate the constant life on the road any longer (some speculate that the incident with Jones and McCabe's relationship with Ashcroft were the reasons).

The corresponding album, "Into The Gap" was one of the best sellers of the year. Then, as the band was on a very successful tour to promote the album, bassist Simon Jones collapsed on stage. 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". ABKCO Music, which runs the Rolling Stones' back catalog, and which had warned The Verve against using the Rolling Stones sample in "Bittersweet Symphony," successfully sued the Verve for 100% of the royalties for "Bitter Sweet Symphony"; further, as a result of the lawsuit, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were given songwriting credits and full publishing rights to the song, which later appeared in a Nike commercial against The Verve's will. 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. Despite their success, turmoil was still a constant reality for the band. 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. The release of Urban Hymns was considered by many a classic that kept the wave of Britpop rolling for at least a few more years.

At the end of 1983, a single "Hold me Now" was released. Once the kings of the rock world, Oasis was nowhere to be seen with their lackluster effort, Be Here Now, while their rivals Blur decided to progress away from Britpop and focused their attention on the American Indie Rock scene. 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. The state of Britpop was in question. 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". The timing of the release couldn't have been better. 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. Urban Hymns propelled the Verve from merely critical darlings to one of the UK's most popular bands.

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 song, which borrows a looped sample of a symphonic recording of the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time", was the soundtrack for many in the summer of 1997 and is considered one of the finest songs ever written. 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. The single was also very popular in the US, topping the charts at #12 (their highest position ever in the Billboards). It entered the UK charts at #2 and remained on the charts for 3 months. The first single off Urban Hymns, "Bitter Sweet Symphony", was an instant hit.

Not only was the album a hit in the UK, but the band also "broke" into the US and most of the world. For the first time in their careers, the Verve not only received very strong critical reviews, but they also experienced major commercial success. With the band back together, the group went through a "spiritual" recording process to finish the epic Britpop classic, Urban Hymns. In 1997, Nick McCabe returned to the fold (a crucial moment for the band).

Ashcroft, Jones, Salisbury, and Tong went ahead and started writing songs for the upcoming album. As a replacement, the band chose old Wigan schoolmate Simon Tong to fill in the lead guitar duties for the remainder of the tour. Although Ashcroft reunited the group just a few weeks after the breakup, McCabe refused to rejoin the lineup. The disappointing album sales and his strained relationship with Nick McCabe resulted in Richard Ashcroft breaking up the band.

Blur rivalry instead of focusing on the Verve's album. The rise of Britpop had captivated the UK in the mid-90s and the media had their attention on the Oasis vs. Despite the critical praise the album received, the band once again experienced a lack of commercial success. The latter two singles were particularly new for the Verve as they dabbled with soulful ballads, a formula that would make their final album such a success.

The singles "This Is Music", "On Your Own", and "History" all reached the UK Top 40. When A Northern Soul was released, it received very strong reviews. The band broke new ground by departing from the neo-psychedelic sounds of A Storm in Heaven and instead recorded a powerful British alternative rock album. In ways that only good music and bad drugs and mixed emotions can make". In great ways and terrible ways.

Richard Ashcroft later described the recording experience as "Four intense, mad months. Really insane. The massive intake of drugs (particularly Ecstasy) and the strained relationship between Ashcroft and McCabe during the sessions took its toll on the band. The turmoil continued well into the recording sessions of the follow-up album, 1995's A Northern Soul. After the tour, the Jazz label Verve sued the band for copyright infringements and forced the group to officially change their name to The Verve.

The tour was disastrous for the group as Ashcroft was hospitalized for dehydration while Salisbury was arrested for destroying a hotel room in Kansas. The single "Slide Away" topped indie rock charts and made enough of a splash across the Atlantic to score the Verve a spot in the successful 90s alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, in 1994. However, critics and the indie rock community hailed the LP for its expansive sound, particularly regarding Nick McCabe's unique and mind-blowing guitar work. The whirling psychedelic sound of the album wasn’t radio friendly in the eyes of the music industry and the general pop audience.

1993's A Storm in Heaven, the band's full-length debut, was a critical hit (both in the UK and the US), but failed to attract a broader audience. The Verve EP was positively received and established the Verve as cult favorites with epic songs like "Gravity Grave" and "A Man Called Sun". With Ashcroft's song-writing skills and McCabe's unique and impressive guitar work, the Verve released 1992's ethereal Verve EP on Hut Records. Led by Richard Ashcroft, an enigmatic lead singer who was rivaled by very few in the British rock scene for his stage presence and vocal abilities, the band caused a buzz in early 1991 for their ability to captivate audiences with their musical textures and sonic aptitude.

The Verve (or simply Verve as they were originally called) were formed in the small town of Wigan in 1989. Despite having to endure major breakups, health problems, drug abuse, and various lawsuits, the Verve released three successful albums and cemented a reputation as one of the most innovative and influential British rock acts of the last decade. Their rise to success did not happen overnight - the band released LPs and EPs that were critically acclaimed and highly regarded, yet worldwide commercial success eluded them for most of their career. At the height of their fame in 1997, the Verve were considered one of the finest bands from the UK and were one of the most popular groups worldwide before they abruptly called it quits in 1999.

The Verve were a British rock and roll band of the 1990s, originally formed in Wigan, England in 1989 by vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. 1997 "Lucky Man" #7 UK. 1997 "The Drugs Don't Work" #1 UK. 1997 "Bitter Sweet Symphony" #2 UK, #12 US.

1995 "History" #24 UK. 1995 "On Your Own" #28 UK. 1995 "This Is Music" #35 UK. This is Music: The Singles 92-98 (compilation).

Urban Hymns (1997) #1 UK, #23 US. A Northern Soul (1995) #13 UK. A Storm in Heaven (1993) #27 UK.

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