www.remembertheeighties.com, December 08
The Thompson Twins were one of those great bands of the 80s, and while we’re all familiar with ‘Quick Step and Side Kick’ and ‘Into the Gap’, it’s great to have their first two albums released on a double CD with loads of bonus material included.
The first disc contains the debut album ‘A Product Of’… from 1981, and even at this early stage they were showing great promise with the first single from the album ‘Perfect Game’ (produced by Mike Howlett) and the Duran Duran-ish sounding second single ‘Make Believe’ both worthy of chart success.
With the band consisting of up to seven members at this time, there’s no shortage of musical instruments and energy throughout. The opening track, the Martha & the Muffins sounding ‘When I See You’ is typical of that early 80s sound that was doing the rounds, while the Sierra Leona composed ‘Qumma Aularesso (Animal Laugh) sounds terrific. The Lion Sleeps Tonight, it isn’t.
The closing track on the original album ‘Vendredi Saint’ is the most unlikely Thompson Twins track you’ll ever hear, comprising of an unusual Gregorian chant. Is that really Tom Bailey on vocals at the start?
It’s the bonus material that makes this album a worthy purchase. Their first ever single, the excellent ‘Triangle And Squares 1-9-8-0’ is a great pop song which deserved to sell more than the 1,500 copies it shifted when released, and their second single ‘She’s In Love With Mystery’ (also included here) is just as good although you wouldn’t recognise Bailey’s vocals.
The second album, ‘Set’ sounds more polished and better produced (with the help of Steve Lillywhite). It opens with the classic ‘In The Name of Love’ and includes the follow-up single ‘Runaway’, which to me is an early version of ‘We Are Detectives.
‘Bouncing (Like A Ball)’ is another pleasant pop song, although the lyrics leave a lot to be desired, ‘Tok Tok’ is another chanting number that continues where they left off on their debut album, and ‘Good Gosh’ has Bailey whispering throughout, but it does have a nice summery Caribbean sound to it.
Thomas Dolby provides great synthesisers on the aforementioned single ‘Runaway’ and also waves his magic on ‘The Rowe’ and ‘Fools Gold’ but the former is the best of this trilogy. Again there are eight bonus tracks here including a 12-inch version and synth version of ‘In The Name of Love’, some b-sides, and a live version of ‘Living In Europe’ which sounds incredible. You wouldn’t even know it was a live track; the sound quality is that good.
Both discs run for over 79 minutes, and contain an Aladdin’s’ cave of bonus material including early Tom Bailey compositions and music scores. There’s also some very detailed sleeve notes and information included. The whole overall package is brilliant and I think it was a great idea to put the two albums together, yet still leaving them on separate discs. While personally I’d probably prefer to listen to a complete singles collection, this is a treasure trove for real fans of the band, and no stone has been left unturned here.