The Thompson Twins – A Punk Product

In the 1980s, The Thompson Twins band rode the wave of fashion-pop, with global hits, media coverage and quite a bit of sneering from the college boy types. But, we argue, this is a band that could only have existed because punk happened.

The earlier musical adventures of Alannah Currie are here in this punkgirldiaries exclusive interview. In it, you can read how non-musician Allannah was inspired by punk to move from New Zealand to a squat in Brixton and have a go at playing sax and bashing things in a band, because …. well, Punk, obviously.

Punk spoke to kids all over telling them they could just get up and do it. And most of all, girls started to get that message. It’s hard for younger people to realise just how important this message was back then for girls who were consistently told that they would be wives, mothers, secretaries, factory workers and not much more.

Punk also brought black/white musical cultures together. The South London squat scene integrated people from different backgrounds; reggae music and Black culture and style were an important part. Jamaican-born DJs and producers added breadth, musical brilliance and credibility to mainly white punk acts.

Punk was hugely about clothing. Once again, there was a teen movement marked out by how you dressed. It might be full-on mohican and studded leather, but more often it was drainpipe trousers, baggy jumper, or a jumble sale granny jacket. Once started on the weird fashion thing, post-punk could only get weirder.

So the logical conclusion of punk ideology – with its girls, people of colour and full-on fashion is …. The Thompson Twins.

Image result for alannah currie pinterest

When you read this excellent 1984 piece in Rolling Stone magazine, you can see so many layers going on – the band has become mega-successful by accident, they are enjoying the weirdness and still slightly taking the piss by pretending to be serious. The photo-led music press (Smash Hits, Record Mirror, The Face etc) have found the perfect subjects to fill their pages and mainstream kids have found tuneful easy-going music that they can adore. Wins all round!

4 thoughts on “The Thompson Twins – A Punk Product

  1. Good article. I think The TTs were pretty indie sounding before their commercial success period.
    Listen to some of their early stuff like ‘perfect game’ and it still sounds alright.

  2. I encountered the squatter-collective 7-piece Twins first so the later cartoon synthpop trio era was much less interesting to me, though I can certainly see the history that led them on their never-would-have-believed-it path of success. The last time I might have wanted to see the band live was in 1983, but never got the chance then. As it turned out, I was an American OMD fan who attended a Thompson Twins concert twice; once in December 1985, and also in January 1986 just to see the OMD opening set. Those were my first OMD shows after five years of fandom, and though they were also starting down the slippery slope of American acquiescence, Thompson Twins were way ahead of them on that front, and both groups of friends I attended those shows with agreed that we didn’t need to see the Twins’ set. I have enormous respect for Alannah for her stonewalling attitude to any TT reunions and the art she now makes. Her quote about how she’d rather vomit on her boots than reform Thompson Twins thrills me. I have to say, I can’t understand the rapturous levels of fandom that their later albums found with American fans! Tom Bailey is not all that intersting to me.

    1. Great comment! We love your long, thoughtful and well-informed responses. I (Ruth) also saw the 7-piece Thompson Twins and it was a lot of fun. I think they may have donated a cowbell to me…..

      1. Well, I love that you’re back to more regular posting this year. 2019 was an awful year; the worst since 2016, and we are more hopeful for 2020. Here’s to more PunkGirlDiaries this year.

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