Doctor! Doctor! (12″ Extended Version)- The Thompson Twins (1984)

This is the first 12″ single that I’m featuring in my blog. Re-mixes or extended versions were often produced and played in nightclubs. I sometimes favoured the long versions of singles over the standard radio 7″ single. ” 

Arista Records TWINS 123

Doctor! Doctor! is a synth pop song performed by the band called the Thompson Twins. The name was taken from the names of the detectives Thomson and Thompson in the comic strip “The adventures of Tintin”. There were several incarnations of the band with a variety of members, but the most successful and best known were from 1982 to 1986 – Tom Bailey – guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals (1977–1993) , Alannah Currie – drums, percussion, vocals (1981–1993) and Joe Leeway – congas, percussion, keyboards, vocals (1981–1986)

Front of 12″ Single Sleeve (UK)

The 7″ single version was the 4th of five top ten hits which reached #3 in a 12 week run on the UK charts, with combined sales of over 250,000 copies earned the band silver disc status. The track was taken from their album “Into The Gap” which sold over 5 million copies worldwide. At the time they had already had three #1 tracks on the US Billboard Dance chart. This reached #18 on the US dance chart but just missed out on the top ten Billboard pop chart (hot 100) peaking at #11. It also peaked at #11 in Germany and Switzerland.

Reverse of sleeve. Art Direction by Alannah

The 12″ version has a prominent synthesizer solo intro of 2 minutes before the vocals actually kick in with rendition of the chorus, then the first verse and follows the pattern of the 7″ version, until a synth drum and percussion instrumental break at 5mins that lasts for 50 secs, then it mixes into 7″ single’s instrumental bridge, followed by another chorus and verse repeat to fade. 

The 12″ version has a prominent synthesizer solo intro of 2 minutes before the vocals actually kick in with rendition of the chorus, then the first verse and follows the pattern of the 7″ version, until a synth drum and percussion instrumental break at 5mins that lasts for 50 secs, then it mixes into 7″ single’s instrumental bridge, followed by another chorus and verse repeat to fade. 

B-Side is an alternate instrumental version of Doctor! Doctor!

The B-side is called Nurse Shark, it lasts 4:05 and is probably the most unusual way of filling a B-side. It’s actually the instrumental backing track of the A-side but a slower/slowed down version, almost an experimental way of trying out the sounds in a different way. The Bass guitar is a clearly featured instrument as well as the synth drum, cymbals, keyboards and various percussion sounds.

Well worth a listen in its own right.

 

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Manchild – Neneh Cherry (1989)

CIRCA Records YR 30

Neneh Cherry was born Neneh Mariann Karlsson in Stockholm, Sweden, moved to the USA and later moved to London, England when aged 14. Reading her biography her background indicates she is from a very artistic/musical family and her own musical diversity includes such genres as Punk, Rock, Dub, Alternative dance, Pop, Rap, Jazz, Electronic and Hip Hop. She has collaborated with several artists and contributed too many bands. The track was co-written by Neneh and her husband Cameron McVey and Robert Del Naja. Although a big hit single it did not chart in the US where it was released via Virgin Records. In the UK it peaked at #5 in week 3 of its 10 week run on the top 75. It reached the top ten in at least 6 other European territories and New Zealand, plus a minor hit in Australia.   

Front cover of the sleeve for Manchild

Neneh considers herself a singer who does a bit of rapping. This has some good vocal moments but she gives a fine rapping performance. The track was featured on her top ten album (UK #2) “Raw like sushi”. The photograph for that album cover was taken by renowned photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who’s name appears in very small lettering on the back of the sleeve of the single in the bottom left hand corner. Neneh says he has been a very big influence on her. 

Neneh is still recording and colloborating in projects both in music and arts & design.

Four From Toyah (An Alternative Play Record) – Toyah (1981)

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Safari Records TOY 1

Toyah Willcox could never be described as boring. Born in 1958, and a native of my home city Birmingham she is a TV presenter, Film and TV Actress, Author, but mainly known as a producer, writer and performer of music. Her acting career was carved out locally in the mid 1970’s as the punk revolution was taking place. Her dyed hair as a young teenager made her a focus of attention. In 1984 she started with the late Sir Lawrence Olivier in a TV Film “The Ebony Tower”

Toyah wanted to add another string to her bow with her acting career in full flow. Having moved to London towards the later 1970’s she began asking around if anyone needed a singer and eventually was introduced to Joel Bogan, other musicians were auditioned and the band were collectively named Toyah.

In 1979 they began recording what they described as an alternative play otherwise known as a 6 track EP called Sheep Farming In Barnet. After releasing studio albums, live recordings, and EP’s this Alternative Play with 4 tracks started to climb the UK chart, and appearances on Top of the Pops catapulted Toyah into the top ten for the first time reaching #4 in a 14 week run. Unusually this single plays at 33 ⅓ rather than 45 rpm.

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Front Cover – Four From Toyah photo’s credited to Geoff Howes and acknowleged on the B -side of the record label

The main track played on radio was “It’s A Mystery”. The delivery in parts highlighted a slight lisp, however this doesn’t detract from this excellent recording of punk/new wave/gothic rock.

This was so different from earlier single releases and written by a friend Keith Hale and Toyah didn’t feel the song was right for her or her growing army of fans but the record company asked to record it.

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Back Cover showing the titles of all the tracks

Its success may have come down to being more commercial as the other tracks featured on this AP are more non mainstream avant-garde “Revelations”, “War Boys” and “Angels and Demons”.

It’s A Mystery is included on Toyah’s most successful album “Anthem” which made #2 in the UK.

The line up at the time was Toyah Willcox – vocals, Joel Bogen – guitar, Phil Spalding – bass, Nigel Glockler – drums, and Adrian Lee – keyboards. Another two top ten hits came in quick succession. This was followed by “Four More From Toyah” the title track being “Good Morning Universe” reaching #14

Toyah Willcox is still active today recording albums and colaborating with other artists. She has been married for 30 years to Robert Fripp who is a musician, writer and guitarist. His Rock background has had him collaborate with dozens of well-known artists and was a member of the band King Crimson.

 

Stand And Deliver – Adam And The Ants (1981)

 

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CBS Records CBS A1065

The early 1980’s was seeing a change in British music. The punk days were over and suddenly image, performance and video were the order of the day. No-one took this on board more than Adam and the Ants, who in a series of singles from 1980 to 1982 began an assault of the UK charts with catchy songs and carefully crafted videos. Image for the group was all important to their success.

Having started out in 1977 as a punk group and with continuous line up changes, in 1980 the group had a change in direction.

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Back cover showing the latest line up (ever-changing) and introducing Gary Tibbs

The video had an appearance of actress Amanda Donohoe, Adam Ant’s girlfriend of the time. The follow-up single’s video “Prince Charming” featured popular British Actress Diana Dors who in her younger days was described as a British version of Marilyn Munroe.

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Front cover of picture sleeve for “Stand and Deliver”

The cover front and back sum up the image and the songs content. “I’m a dandy highwayman who you’re too scared to mention. I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention …” say the lyrics. Written by Adam Ant with Marco Pirroni, who had a huge part in this success. It was the bands first of two #1 singles in a total of 7 top ten UK charted records. It stood at the top of the UK charts for 5 weeks and went on to sell 1.03 million copies in UK alone and resulted in a long chart run in Germany when peaking at #8. It even made the US Dance chart reaching #38. When the Ants disbanded in 1982, Pirroni continued to write with Adam for his solo career including the #1 UK and Australian hit “Goody Two Shoes”.

Slow Hand – Pointer Sisters (1981)

Planet Records K 12530

Many acts of the sixties and seventies were family affairs. This group of siblings “The Pointer Sisters” expanded from a duo to quartet between 1969 and 1973 comprised of June, Bonnie, Anita and Ruth Pointer. Bonnie left to pursue a solo career in 1978. After having hits in the US it was as a trio during the early 1980’s that the group found worldwide success with their mostly uptempo soul/rhythm and blues. This classic Richard Perry produced single was my first introduction to the Sisters. The song was written by  John Bettis and Michael James Bruce Clark. The lyrics have a sexual undertone of a woman indicating what is wanted from her man and that their time together will be all night. The lead vocal is sung by Anita.

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Picture sleeve for Slow Hand by the Pointer Sisters

“Slow Hand” was the first of three top ten singles for the sisters in the UK. It made #10 in its 6th week on an 11 week run on the top 75. It succeeded in getting to #2 in Ireland.

In Belgium and the Netherlands this was a top 40 hit. It had a lengthy run on the New Zealand charts peaking at #6 and got to #5 in Australia. In the US this was a huge hit reaching #2 on the Billboard top 100.

The single was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1982. Over the years they have had 9 nominations and won 3 times.

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B-Side Holdin’ Out For Love

The B side is the funky “Holdin’ Out For Love.”

They were signed to Producer Richard Perry’s label Planet Records distributed by Warner Brothers, later sold to RCA Records which was the label for their 1985 hit “Dare Me”. When leaving RCA they released material on the Motown label during the 1990’s.

The line up today is ever changing featuring a combination of daughters and grand daughters. June officially left the group in 2004 but sadly passed away in 2006 from cancer.

Once In A Lifetime – Talking Heads (1980)

Sire Records SIR 4048

Talking Heads were an American Rock Band who formed in 1975 (New York) and in the UK they signed to Warner Brothers’ subsidiary label Sire Records. All the members became involved with other projects both during their time together and after their disbanding in 1991. David Byrne was the main songwriter and vocalist. Tina Weymouth was the bass player, drums by Chris Frantz and keyboards and guitars by Jerry Harrison. They recorded three albums gaining RIAA Gold status in the US up to 1980 and released a few singles that really didn’t trouble the upper part of the charts. Much of the music produced was described as a mixture of new wave, punk, avant-garde, and dance.

Picture Sleeve for “Once In A Lifetime”

The first hit to enter the top 100 in the UK was the track “Once In A Lifetime”. In a ten week run starting in February 1981 the song slowly climbed to #14 stalling for two weeks. It also became a hit top 40 hit in Canada, The Netherlands, and Australia. A curious mix of spoken word verses and sung chorus it was different from many of the sounds being produced at the time. Possibly experimental even though it is very bass and percussion driven with synth overtones co written by Byrne and Brian Eno.

B-Side “Seen and not seen”

The production was also by the aforementioned Brian Eno born Suffolk, England who was once a member of English rock band Roxy Music. He left and became known for his prolific association as a musician, writer and producer with other artists such as Genesis, David Bowie, U2 and Paul Simon. The B side is “Seen And Not Seen” again in a spoken word style written by the same team.

What Is Love ? – Howard Jones (1983)

WEA Records HOW 2

During the early 1980’s the UK charts were full of British bands with a Synth Pop sound. A solo artist by the name of Howard Jones finally made his mark on the scene with a series of top ten singles which also became international hits.

Howard Jones was born 1955 in Southampton, Hampshire, England to Welsh parents. His early life was spent in Wales and England. He began learning the piano aged 7 and in his teens moved briefly to Canada. He returned to England and studied music in Manchester. He started to write songs and play gigs. In 1983 he hired the Marquee Club in London and invited record labels to come and see him perform, which helped to land a deal with major label WEA records (Elektra in the U.S.).

  Picture sleeve for “What Is Love”

“What Is Love” was the second single from his debut album “Human Lib” and became his highest charting single in the UK peaking at #2 in its eight week within a run of 15 weeks on the top 100. It was produced by Rupert Hine who worked with several high profile artists such as Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks and British group The Thompson Twins. Howard’s first single “New Song” peaked at #3 for a 20 week run on the chart. “What is love” was successful internationally peaking at #33 in US, #31 in Australia and also the top ten in Germany and Sweden.

B-Side “It Just Doesn’t Matter”

Howard wrote the music for this song and the lyrics were co-written with William Bryant who co-wrote other material with Howard during this period of his career.

During the 1980’s he toured and was part of the Live Aid event at Wembley, London in 1985. He released further albums and singles to varying degrees in the UK but still managed to do arena tours particularly in the US.

As his contact at WEA came to an end, Howard started to write for other artists and began producing. Later he started his own record label Dtox, releasing more material and toured using his concerts as an outlet for the sales of his albums. He toured in 2012 with tracks from his first two albums.

The B Side is a track called “It Just Doesn’t Matter” and although synth based it has a ska feeling to it, akin to something the British Group Madness would have written and performed.