On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82. From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend. Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day. For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet. And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).
In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post. On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40. On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1.
As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”
I have to say, as a self-proclaimed singles chart nerd, researching for each blog post in this tribute to Casey Kasem has been pretty awesome. Casey would often say, “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger!” That may also true with how many songs peak at each position. For the songs that reached No. 30 between 1979 and 1989, there were over 40.
What I found interesting (to me, anyway) is that, out of these 40+ songs that peaked at No. 30 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, there were only two (real) one-hit wonders. Also, I’ve already highlighted five No. 30 hits – (real) one-hit wonder Frankie Smith and “Double Dutch Bus,” “The One Thing” by INXS, “The Prisoner” by Howard Jones, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and “Space Age Love Song” by A Flock Of Seagulls (one of my favorite blog pieces so far; from September 2016).
Another interesting quirk is that there are a lot of big-name artists who had No. 30 hits, but the hits themselves have been largely forgotten, including songs by The Bangles (“Be With You,” 1989), Tina Turner (“Two People,” 1987), Kool & The Gang (“Let’s Go Dancin’,” 1983), and two each by Daryl Hall & John Oates (“How Does It Feel To Be Back,” 1980, and “Possession Obsession,” 1985) and Toto (“Make Believe,” 1982, and “Stranger In Town,” 1984).
Yet another interesting fact is how there were so many memorable hits from other decades that stopped at No. 30 (like Iron Butterfly’s classic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever,” the brilliant “Walk On By” by Isaac Hayes, “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffet, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes, “Firestarter” by Prodigy, R.E.M.’s wonderful “Man On The Moon,” the amazing “Love Is The Drug” by Roxy Music, and one of THE BEST pieces of music for all time, “Give It To Me” by The J. Geils Band), and yet, with the songs that peaked at No. 30 in the 80s, for whatever reason, most of those songs have been forgotten.
Thankfully, though, there were a handful of cool ones, too. There’s the aforementioned ones I’ve already posted on the blog, but then there’s “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby, “Love Will Find A Way” by Yes, The Human League’s “Mirror Man,” and “Lies,” the first big American hit by a New Wave / Synthpop trio who weren’t at all related – Sheffield, England’s Thompson Twins.
The trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway made up the Thompson Twins in 1982, a time when MTV was so popular, it was affecting what was bought in stores and what was played on the radio, and a time when New Wave was becoming more prominent in mainstream music. 1982 was also the start of the Second British Invasion on the U.S. singles chart, which lasted through 1986. Thompson Twins were a big part of that.
By 1982, Tom, Alannah and Joe already had one No. 1 song to their credit here in America – “In The Name Of Love,” which spent five weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart in May and June 1982.
In October 1982, they released “Lies,” the first single from their upcoming third album, QUICK STEP AND SIDE KICK. The band was still looking for their audience in their U.K. homeland, and it stopped at No. 67 on the U.K. singles chart there.
“Lies” would find an audience here in America a few months later, and it debuted at No. 80 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1983, a couple of weeks after it spent two weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart (with its B-side, “Beach Culture”).
As “Lies” made its climb up the Hot 100, the song’s parent album was released in February 1983, and with the Twins being signed to Arista Records, that meant, well, much like fellow Brits (The) Icicle Works in 1984, a name change for the album in the U.S. and Canada. So, the name of the album was shortened to just SIDE KICKS.
A month after the album’s release, “Lies” found its way to the Top 40. By the end of March 1983, it reached No. 30, but got stuck there for three weeks, and was gone from the Top 40 after that. It stayed on the Hot 100 for a respectable total of about four months. “Lies” also reached No. 6 in New Zealand and the Top 30 in Australia and Canada.
Though the “Lies” follow-up single, “Love On Your Side” would fail to reach the Top 40 here in the U.S. (it stopped at No. 45 in early June 1983), Thompson Twins would finally find their U.K. audience, and that song was their first of five Top 10 hits, reaching No. 9. QUICK STEP AND SIDE KICK was also certified Platinum there and reached No. 2 on the U.K. album chart.
I loved Thompson Twins from the start. I reserved any quick-stepping and side-kicking for at-home dancing, but I was a fan as soon as I heard “Lies.” Not only was I hooked by the music, but I really enjoyed Tom Bailey’s style of singing. Don’t know if there’s a particular name for it, I just enjoyed it. All these years later, I would put his vocal style in the same high class as Howard Jones and Cy Curnin of The Fixx. They also had one of the coolest band logos.
It was pretty cool seeing them on the TV performing with Madonna at Live Aid. What I didn’t know was that it was the beginning of the end for the trio I knew and loved as Thompson Twins.
After Joe Leeway left the Twins in 1986, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie kept the band and the name going until 1993, when they changed it to Babble, reflecting a change in musical direction from New Wave to “dub-influenced chill-out” (mixing Electronica, World Beat, Alt-Dance and Club styles).
As Babble, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie (who were married at the time and living in New Zealand) released a couple of albums before calling it quits in 1996. Alannah Currie retired from music, and they were divorced in 2003 (though they remain friends).
Tom Bailey now lives in London with his second wife, he took part in the 2014 version of the Retro Futura Tour as “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey” and earlier this year on “The ‘80s Cruise,” an annual event of which I hope to attend at some point. Under the moniker of “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey,” he released a single last year called “Come So Far,” and has another one scheduled for release this year.
When I think of Thompson Twins, the first songs that come to mind are “Lay Your Hands On Me,” “Hold Me Now,” “If You Were Here” (from SIXTEEN CANDLES), “Sugar Daddy,” “In The Name Of Love” (both the 1982 and 1988 versions), their kick-ass cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution,” “Doctor! Doctor!” and “Love On Your Side,” but it was all “Lies” that made me fall in love with those three non-related kids back in 1982, who were, at one time, Twins…