Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SPAZ reviews THOMPSON TWINS' Remixes & Rarities on Cherry Pop!


A Collection of Classic 12" Mixes & B-sides


Even though Thompson Twins were one of the most successful British acts of the '80s, there are those that overlook them when rattling off a list of their favorite bands of the era.  Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Cure and many other bands get name-checked all over the internet but for some reason, Thompson Twins seem to get the short end of the stick.  And why?  Who the hell knows!  Their hits were far more memorable than most of their contemporaries and they did manage to shift quite a few albums during their heyday, so its certainly not because they are unworthy.  I'll even admit that I, a hardcore '80s fanatic, might occasionally forget to put a Thompson Twins track on an '80s mix I want to play in the car.  And each time I forget, I'm hit hit with a case of the guilts - how could I forget to include "Lies"?  "Hold Me Now"?  "In The Name Of Love"? "Lay Your Hands On Me"?  Each of them a stone cold '80s classic... each of them worthy of their hit status... so how could I forget?

Thompson Twins were a great singles AND album band.  Their songs were filled with melodic wonder, clever arrangements and great production.  OK, so the production does sound dated, but they layered the instrumentation so well that you can sometimes catch little things today that you missed the first time around some 30 years ago. Leader Tom Bailey seemed to be on a never-ending journey to make the perfect pop record yet he still managed to keep the quirkiness of the band intact throughout their career.  Some may have viewed them as pretentious at times, but compared to Sting, they were the fucking Three Stooges of pop - always a lot more clever and entertaining than they are given credit for.  

Though the band initially featured more members, by the time they released the album Quick Step And Side Kick in 1983 they were a trio consisting of Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway.  This is the version of the band that dominated the charts for close to three years before Leeway split.  It was during this period that the band released songs that are not only part of pop music history, they are songs that are etched into memories like best friends from your high school days. These hits are so familiar to so many that they do get buried on occasion when other less worthy songs float to the top. Yes, we all loved Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" and "Two Tribes" but can most people remember much beyond that (apart from us '80s geeks, of course)? Probably not. But play a Thompson Twins tune and you'll be singing along before the chorus takes your to heaven and back.

When listening to this fantastic two CD compilation, Remixes and Rarities, the magic of Thompson Twins' music leaps out and embraces the senses.  While the songs here are mostly the extended mixes, within the first 15-20 seconds, your memories start racing back to the days of hearing the track for the very first time on your radio or record/cassette player.  That keyboard hook to "In The Name Of Love" (which they cheekily inserted into "Love On Your Side") will speed up your heart rate.  The nine-plus minute version of "Hold Me Now" is flawless... and not quite long enough if you are nursing a broken heart.  "King For A Day", "You Take Me Up" and "Long Goodbye" manage to retain the same emotional atmosphere three decades on. "Doctor! Doctor", "Nothing In Common" and "Lay Your Hands On Me" are brilliant pop nuggets. Their quirkier moments like "Don't Mess With Doctor Dream" and "We Are Detective" are still as charming and fun as ever.  Oh, hell, I could go on and on but you just need to go out and buy this.  You'll hear new bits and bobs in the extended mixes that were buried or missed when you played the singles and albums to death. When you hear these songs again, you'll marvel at the passion behind what you once thought was a 'pretty cool' tune. You'll fall in love with them all over again.

For those of you who bought Edsel's TT remasters a few years back will be happy to know that there are six tracks here that have never been available on CD before so this is more than worth your time and money.  Besides, it's great to hear these tracks altogether in one double disc set (I think those remasters might be out of print now... or will soon be!)

Long live Thompson Twins. May you never forget them while you make your list of '80s favorites.

No comments: