Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Into The Gap"
I don't know why the Thompson Twins have been forgotten.
They emerged on to the American scene with the exquisite "In The Name Of Love"...
We've got to stop right here. This was a KROQ staple. Long before the Pasadena station was on its victory lap, which still sustains despite the outlet being far from number one. Rick Carroll had shaken up the playlist, he took a free format station with a weak signal into the eighties by turning it into a Top Forty alternative outlet. Its bones were made on two records, "Don't You Want Me" and "Tainted Love." Yup, credit KROQ, the station was on these records first. And these were the records that killed AOR, because AOR refused to play them, oh how wrong they were.
And there were so many great follow-ups, like Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough."
And the Thompson Twins' "In The Name Of Love."
It's been years since I've heard it on the radio... And stunningly, it sounds as fresh and innovative as it did thirty years ago. This sound has been gone so long, it would react with the kids...if they only heard it!
"In the name of love...
IN THE NAME OF LOVE!"
It was about the horn intro flourish, the sounds, the groove, "In The Name Of Love" is one of those songs you hear and have to hear again, that you have to own!
And some KROQ/alternative hits followed. "Lies." And "Love On Your Side." But we were unprepared for "Hold Me Now."
The Thompson Twins were alternative, left of center, quirky...whereas "Hold Me Now" was positively MAINSTREAM! Kind of like 10cc with "The Things We Do For Love," a left field band was suddenly front and center, the Top Forty stations started playing it, it became ubiquitous, kind of like Oasis with "Wonderwall"...a left of center band suddenly hits a mainstream bullseye.
"Hold Me Now" starts off quiet and introspective. Then there's that bass, underpinning the track. And then Tom Bailey's vocal. The anti-TV show effort. The way he wraps himself around the lyrics.
But the magic is in the backup vocals. You can't help but sing along. Especially when, towards the end of the song, you get the echoes in the chorus:
"Hold me now
HOLD ME IN YOUR LOVING ARMS
Warm my heart
WARM MY COLD AND TIRED HEART
Stay with me
COME ON AND STAY WITH ME
Let lovin' start
Let lovin' start"
It's pure magic. So magical, in fact, that I had to run out and buy the album, back when there was a belief that the single was just an advertisement, the tip of the iceberg of the long player.
And "Into The Gap" is one of those albums that's playable throughout. I couldn't stop. And I'm not revising my opinion today.
The best song on the album is the opener, "Doctor! Doctor!"
It's the synth intro. And the dynamics.
"Doctor! Doctor!" is not one of those tracks you listen to passively, rather your whole body becomes involved, your head nods, your arms thrust, your fingers animate, there's just that much in the track, that much that intrigues you. It's positively modern sounds, but there's a humanity percolating throughout. It's dark without being cold. Whew!
"You Take Me Up," with its harmonica intro, is a strange combo of Beatles quirkiness and "Working In A Coal Mine." It's an album track, but it's hooky! Remember when the album cuts were as magical as the radio hits?
And then there's the second side opener, "The Gap," with its middle eastern bazaar feel without being off-putting. You can't believe it's the same album!
And only an English act could cut "Sisters Of Mercy," Americans don't make tracks with this same dreamy feel.
And "Who Can Stop The Rain" sounds like a conclusion... Like you're nearing the end. And when the needle lifts off the LP you can't help but...flip it over and play it again!
I'd like to say the follow-up, "Here's To Future Days," was as good, but it wasn't close. It wasn't terrible, but it didn't have the aforementioned magic.
Then the band got worse, further off the mark, it splintered, it reemerged as something completely different, Babble, but then Tom Bailey was done.
Yes, he was the genius. Maybe too much so. And the greats shine bright and burn out. When tedium sets in, when they realize music might save the lives of their audience, but not their own.
But I did see them at the Greek, during that summer of '84, and it was everything I wanted it to be, back when you knew the album by heart and you hoped and prayed they'd play the favorites you thought only you knew...and they did!