Sunday, May 15, 2005

Thompson Twins "Side Kicks", the great unsung 80's album

The first time I recall hearing the Thompson Twins was in the closing moments of the movie "Sixteen Candles". As Jake and Samantha sit on the glass table, her cake aglow with candles, I was entranced by the bed of music. The movie credits informed me that it was a song called "If You Were Here" on the TT album "Side Kicks". Searched it out on vinyl. Only problem was that the brand new copy had numerous skips on it(cursed vinyl!) Returned it to the store and got the cassett version instead. I must have listened to that tape hundreds of times. Every song was filled with keyboards, catchy melodies, moody nuances, and toe-tapping magic. Easily one of the best albums of the 80's(their follow-up "Into The Gap" is almost as good.)

The opening notes of "Love On Your Side" have you bopping and weaving like the chicken head you are. I can recall singing this song in the halls of Spring Woods Junior High to my old chum Paul Rybiski. Whenever he requested, I sang it and danced around like a fool.

"We Are Detective" reminds me of Costello's "Watching The Detectives" in that it creates the perfect smokey mood for the subject matter. The lyrics "We saw him standing by the newspaper stand. There's something odd about his gloved left hand." always kinda spooked me.

"Watching" includes the cavernous background vocals of Grace Jones.

"Kamikaze" slowly fades in and places you square in the cockpit of a pilot wishing the best to all those he will not see again.

I've never really had stage fright in my performing career, but I sure understood Judys dilemma in "Judy Do".

Yeah, judy laugh, and judy cry
Yeah, judy do, and judy die...yeah

And finally the album closes with "All Fall Out", reminding us that indeed all good things must come to an end. A droning keyboard, accented by a hammer on anvil, leads us down the ever winding path surrounded by what seems like a million chanting monks.

I remember driving to Big Bend National Park with the family unit back in 1985, and I don't think I ever took it out of my Walkman. Lying in the back of a van, cruising down the highway, lost in the land of British synthpop was paradise.

I bought it on cd when it was issued. But during a moment of poverty/stupidity, I sold it for money or pot to a really cool music store in Chicago. Several years later I was jonesin' to hear it again, only to discover it had since gone out of print. Ended up spending too much on Ebay for a replacement. It was reissued back in 2004 and it sounds killer.

With "Side Kicks", the TT took hold of the reigns that the Human League, Kraftwerk, and Ultravox had pioneered. Their production and writing techniques were really at their peak during this period. Their next album "Into The Gap" would follow shortly and catapult them in to the pop mainstream. And how cool was it that the band had a woman and a man of color!
They also had a unique sense of style. Which, like all fashion trends, didn't make much of an impression on me.

I only saw them once in concert(with OMD opening) at the Summit in Houston during the mid-eighties. They did not disappoint. I also seem to remember it was the first time I ever saw the arena split in half with a large black curtain. I guess tickets didn't sell as well as expected. Once again, proof that my finger is NOT on the pulse of America.

cover art:

mpthree of Kamikaze:

iPod song of the day: Born In The 50's from the Polices' "Outlandos d'Amour"


Blogger alwaystheveepnevtheprez said...

So I get an international call today from a friend in Costa Rica who asks if I've ever googled myself. She says she did and somebody was talking about singing TT songs to me in Jr High. I told her that it was all LIES, LIES, LIES, YEAH, but alas, the referenced went unappreciated.

2:53 PM  

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