The original Thompson Twins were a bungling detective duo in the comic strip The Adventures of Tin Tin. The English pop band on the other hand formed in 1977 and after several line-up changes became a trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie, and Joe Leeway. What’s remarkable is that Thompson Twins were far from a one hit wonder some would consider them and instead regularly hit the dance and singles charts throughout the 80s. The first few tracks on the Greatest Hits from 1996 show off their off-centre dance tracks including the shouty chorus of “Lies” and the minimal Russian sounding “We Are Detective” that reached #7 in the UK singles chart.
The band saw their big breakthrough with one of the more memorable tracks of the early 80s, “Hold Me Now”. Adding a fat bassline and an emotional core to the lyrics, the track went top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic. In total, 5 singles were released from the Into The Gap album including “Doctor! Doctor!” and the harmonica lead “You Take Me Up”. “Lay Your Hands on Me” was the first single from the band’s next album, Here’s to Future Days. The track has a similar sound to what made “Hold Me Now “ so successful but adds religious undertones to the lyrics.
“King For a Day” was their last track to reach the top 10 in the US. After that, the band went down to a duo after Joe Leeway left. The album finishes with a few decent adult pop tracks from later albums. The core of Thompson Twins’ Greatest Hits lies with the tracks from Into The Gap and Here’s To Future Days, it was there the band established itself as perkier little brother/sister to the morose sound of Robert Smith. They developed pop smarts but never lost their quirky side which made them a favourite mid 80s pop band.
The Miki Berenyi led indie “supergroup” Piroshka returns with their second album, Love Drips and Gathers, named after a Dylan Thomas poem. The sweetly sung “Scratching at the Lid” belies the message of trying to get out of a coffin as it is lowered into the ground. A screeching guitar announces the introduction of “Wanderlust” that eventually gives away to a poppy swing of a chorus.
Guitarist KJ ‘Moose’ McKillop writes memory snippets of his mother on “Hastings 1973” while “V.O.” pays tribute to Vaughn Oliver who was the in-house art director at 4AD. Where the album suffers at times is in the simplistic lyrics of tracks like “The Knife Thrower’s Daughter” and the album starts to run out of steam towards the end, closing with the moody electronica of “We Told You”. Still, for certain fans, listening to Miki sing is worth the price of admission and over the course of two albums, this mature group shows plenty of fiery flashes.
Among all the self-improvement books out there, one that appears every now and again is Cal Newport’s 2016 book, Deep Work. At the beginning, the book is more scholarly but then it starts to settle in to rules to follow. Much of today’s work life involves reading emails, answering instant messages, and being tugged in 20 different directions. What Newport gets into is the importance of going deep on a project without distractions for a few hours a day. He also preaches such ideas as getting off social media, think about problems when doing other activities, focus on important tasks, and not working so late that you burn yourself out. All of these items while simple in theory can be hard to do in the office so one must find ways to incorporate deep work into their routine. A fine book about an important topic.
Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2005. The novel tells of Irishman Willie Dunne who signs up with the allies to fight in WWI. The war conflict also causes much conflict for those left behind in Ireland who are under British rule. Willie has a hard time connecting with his policeman father and the love of his life who he meets just before joining. The novel is wonderfully written as it speaks of the horrors of war on both the front and home lines.