Where are the Thompson Twins now? We are detective!
The Thompson Twins can trace their roots back to 1977 but it was only in the 1980’s that they made their name with three massive global hits in 1983-84. Taking their name from the two detectives in the cartoon adventures of Tinin (Thompson and Thompson, who were not twins!) Tom Bailey (B.1954), Peter Dodd, John Roog and Jon Podgorski spent many years floating about and playing in bars and clubs. At the turn of the new decade, they recorded “Squares And Triangles”, their very first single, although this was not commercially successful. Neither was “She’s In Love With Mystery”. 1981 would change all that as incoming members Alannah Currie (b.1957) and Joe Leeway (b.1955) helped reshape the group. Following the release of their debut album, “A Product Of…(Participation)” that year, which found favour among ‘arty’ critics, and with a line up change caused by most of the founding members departing, the Thompson Twins achieved chart success with “In The Name Of Love” the following year.
The track was the lead single from the second album, “Set”, and topped the US dance chart, the first of many to come, while “Set” broke the UK album chart at No.48. Two further singles were released during 1982 with “Lies” also topping the US dance chart and finding its way on to the singles charts in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. “Set” was a prelude to greater things to come as, now reduced to a trio, writing and recording began during 1982 on a third album. Lead single, “Love On Your Side”, arrived in early 1983 and saw the Thompson Twins break out into the mainstream as the song reached No.9 in the UK and No.45 on the US singles charts and No.6 on the Dance chart. Less than twelve months after “Set”, “Quick Step And Side Kick”, the third album, saw release and would find itself peaking at No.2 in the UK and No.34 Stateside, earning a Platinum disc on home territory. Even more successful was the second single, “We Are Detective”, a nod to their fictional cartoon namesake, which made No.7.
As before, with the album and singles taking off, Bailey, Currie and Leeway did not come up for air as they launched heart and soul into album number four, destined for release the following year. 1983 closed with the lead track, “Hold Me Now”, a down-tempo synth number that really found radio and chart success the world over with the song charting even higher at No.4 in the UK, No.3 in America and top ten across most of the rest of the world into early 1984. And only twelve months on in February, album number four emerged. “Into The Gap” became and remains to this day the group’s most successful, topping the UK chart and making the top ten in America, where is sold over a million copies, and reaping multi Platinum discs wherever it was possible. Hardly surprising as “Into The Gap” featured the trio of most recognised and most popular songs the group would ever record with “Hold Me Now” followed by the instantly catchy and quotable “Doctor, Doctor” (UK No.3, US No.11) and the even higher placed “You Take Me Up”, which went one better and peaked at No.2 in the UK, the group’s highest on the home singles chart.
“Into The Gap” would produce five singles with “Sister Of Mercy” just stalling outside the UK top ten later in 1984, while the US got the title track of the album at the end of the year, before the trio would unleash a brand new track, “Lay Your Hands On Me”, to the western world at the same time. The song would peak at No.13 at the end of 1984 but would appear in remixed form in 1985 for the US market, where it went to No.6, the group’s second top ten hit there and first since “Hold Me Now”, over a year earlier. This remixed version is the one that would find its way onto the fifth studio album, “Here’s To Future Days”, in 1985, while the rest of the world got “Don’t Mess With Doctor Dream”, which was a top twenty hit in most territories apart from Sweden, where it reached the top ten. “Here’s To Future Days” received a Gold disc at home and in America, where the album charted top five and top twenty respectively and would include a further US top ten hit single with “King For A Day” (UK No.22). Thompson Twins took part in Live Aid when they were joined on stage by a then rising female singer by the name of Madonna.
The trio as it had stood for four years was coming to an end and after recording “Nothing In Common” for the soundtrack to the Tom Hanks film of the same name in 1986, Joe Leeway left to pursue “other interests”. Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie, who were by now a couple, decided to continue as a duo and went straight into the studio to record album number seven, “Close To The Bone”, released in 1987. The best days were now over as “Close To The Bone” and its three singles, failed to reach the audience that had embraced them only two years earlier. The lead single, “Get That Love”, did reach No.31 on the US singles chart. 1988 brought the first best of compilation in the form of new mixes. “In The Name of Love” was chosen as the opening single and surprised everyone when it topped the US dance chart that Summer, the first time since “Hold Me Now” in late 1983 the group had been this high. Bailey and Currie continued to fire off the new material and in 1989 released the “Big Trash” album, which was preceded by the single “Sugar Daddy”, not a hit in the UK or internationally, but another US dance hit (No.2) and a singles chart hit at No.28, their highest since “King For A Day”, although this would now bring an end to guaranteed chart placings and record sales.
Following 1991’s “Queer” and “Play With Me (Jane)” from the film ‘Cool World’ in 1992, Bailey and Currie ‘dissolved’ the Thompson Twins and started a new venture with engineer Keith Fernley called Babble. Babble enjoyed limited success on the US dance chart and recorded two studio albums together until they disbanded in 1996, their most notable contribution being the track “Tribe”, which was featured on the soundtrack to the film ‘With Honors’ in 1994, better known for the superb Madonna single, “I’ll Remember“. Aside from their work with Thompson Twins and later with Babble, Tom and Alannah also wrote and produced tracks for a number of other artists and bands, the best known of these is Blondie’s Debbie Harry’s solo hit, “I Want That Man“, in 1989, which was a top ten hit around most of the world. Bailey and Currie themselves parted company in 2003 and Alannah would later marry one half of The KLF, Jimmy Cauty. She Founded her own glass making studio and campaigns against genetically modified foods while continuing to produce her ‘exclusive’ range of art under the name of ‘Miss Pokeno’. Joe Leeway swapped music for acting and appeared in the little known 1986 film ‘Slaves Of New York’. He now practices hypnotherapy locally to his home in Los Angeles.
Tom Bailey hasn’t given up music at all and in 2001 released albums under the name of ‘International Observer’. More recently he has been welcomed with open arms at 80’s music festivals and concerts reviving his most famous incarnation and now known as the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey. In 2018 he added to his sets with the release of his very first album as a solo artist using his real name, “Science Fiction“, which was well received by critics and fans alike. He spent most of 2018 touring the US with The B-52’s, Culture Club and Belinda Carlisle and in the UK with a-ha and OMD to promote the album. It’s unlikely that a full Thompson Twins reunion will ever happen, but stranger things have happened…can you feel it burning, burning?(!)
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