Number Ones: #103


  • THOMPSON TWINS Long Goodbye (Arista)
  • Week Ending 6th June 1987
  • 2 weeks At #1


The return of Tom and Alannah as a duo turned out to be a commercial nightmare, with the lead single Get That Love‘s #66 peak followed by a frankly disastrous #90 debut for the Close To The Bone LP, but failure to recapture former chart glories must have been put into perspective by the real-life trials detailed in Long Goodbye.

“I have seen my future die, my whole past as well. That hurricane she knew my name, and tonight just feels like hell”. It won’t win awards for poetic beauty, but it certainly makes its point with disarming candour. Thompson Twins were never noted for their soul-baring lyrics, and – despite the album’s title hinting at something less contrived – Long Goodbye proved a brief moment when cleverly-crafted artifice was abandoned.

It was also a last hurrah of sorts for the band; they would leave Arista after this single, as Close To The Bone‘s campaign was understandably cut down to just a pair of 45s. Long Goodbye would also be the last of six Thompson Twins records to top my charts, putting them – at the time – in second place on the Hall of Fame rankings.

Indeed, the sense of that glorious mid-80s era of pop reaching some sort of denouement was hard to resist; HoJo’s own contribution to 1987 had been the choice of Little Bit Of Snow – a low-key, downbeat ballad concerning the death of someone he knew – as the final single from One To One. Meanwhile, OMD concluded their own campaign for an unloved album with Shame, a nothing-y kind of pleasant ballad that, again, stood absolutely zero chance of impacting upon the UK Top 40. It was an odd period.

For the Twins, just as with Howard Jones’ and OMD’s albums, Close To The Bone had offered a glimpse of better things ahead following an indifferent release (the messy, ill-starred Here’s To Future Days). Sure, a couple of the songs were clunkers and my fandom was probably showing its bias a little, yet in Bush Baby and Dancing In Your Shoes they had a couple of genuinely excellent tracks in their armoury. It’s a pity that Arista didn’t take advantage of those, or that the changing fashions of UK pop had left no room for music of that ilk anymore.

Get That Love made sense as the comeback single, and its US success pretty much vindicated that decision, but Long Goodbye (with its echoes of Wrapped Around Your Finger, except without the memorable chorus) seemed a bizarre second gambit. Perhaps the label had made it clear, once the album flopped, that there would be only one further single, and they decided to put out something which meant a lot to them personally.

Nevertheless, Thompson Twins moved on, signing to the mighty Warner Brothers and changing tack with 1989’s garish, upbeat Big Trash album. When that fared even worse than Close To The Bone (failing to chart at all in Britain), and recognising the influence of rave and club music upon pop culture, Tom and Alannah made Queer in 1991, even putting out some white-label versions of the songs as Feedback Max.

Yet again, despite tickling the nether regions of the UK Top 75 with the singles Come Inside and The Saint, as well as getting their best press in almost a decade, Queer didn’t reverse the slide and Babble were born in 1993.



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