Record Review: Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up UK 12″

thompson twins you take me up UK 12" cover

Arista ‎| UK | 12″ | 1984 | TWINS 124

Thompson Twins: You Take Me Up UK 12″ [1984]

  1. You Take Me Up/Machines Take Me Over
  2. Down Tools
  3. Leopard Ray
  4. Passion Planet

I somehow knew when I saw the video clip for “Hold Me Now” a few months before it was released in America that the song was very probably a came-changer for Thompson Twins. And not in a good way. That was a song that announced the days in the squat were over. It was limos from here on out, and none of the band’s previously scruffy charm was likely to manifest going down the road. With the exception of this single, though!

I had the “In The Name of Love” album and the next opus in their canon, the “Side Kicks” album as it was known in The States. The latter had shown the now pared-down group as being more of a synthpop phenomenon than they had previously been, but it was still enjoyable goods. In the zeitgeist of 1983, I thought it was a great album and it’s only diminished in retrospect as it was more vital to the “new direction” of Thompson Twins that I had given credit for at the time. Do in late 1983 when “Hold Me Now” roared like a panzer division through the free world’s pop charts [and “Doctor Doctor” followed it closely behind] I was surprised to one morning see a third Thompson Twins single from “Into The Gap” which was barely getting MTV airplay.

“You Take Me Up” struck me as one last throwback to the “Side Kicks” sound and methodologies. I saw the import 12″ at Crunchy Armadillo records and bought it. This would be the last Thompson Twins release I would buy until the “Sugar daddy” single six years later. The Uk 12″ was a feast of content. Not only was the extended 12″ mix of “You Take Me Up” on it, but it had three more B-sides. The extended version of “You Take Me Up” was strong for taking what I liked about the song; mainly its ratcheting machine rhythm samples and layering it with marimba, rustic harmonica , and melodica fills, to make it both machine-like and warm at the same time. At a time when any harmonica on a record was usually played with oleaginous glee by the formerly great Stevie Wonder, it was a relief to hear something as casual and, yes, amateurish, as the harmonica played here.

The extended intro and first half of the song followed the single template but the extended instrumental coda allowed the almost folky song to last until 7:33 without resorting to watch-glancing. The almost comically flat BVs from Joe Leeway and Alannah Currie did much to restore the aforementioned “scruffy charm” to the band, and the song was less balladic than what the band had proffered of late. I could see actually dancing to this one in a club.

“Down Tools” was a short instrumental dub mix of the A-side that was also on the cassette remixes on the flip side of “Into The Gap,” but I didn’t know about that at the time. The great instrumental “Leopard Ray” was another of these “cassette bonus tracks” that made its way to vinyl on this single. This was another track [like the A-side] that had more texture and detail to maintain my interest instead of the bland ballads like “Hold Me Now” and “Sister of Mercy” offered on the album. And finally, the non-LP B-side was a corker. “Passion Planet” was a giddy, effervescent pop trifle, but one done exceptionally well.

Bailey captured the fizzy burst of attraction perfectly here and the deadpan backing vocals form Alannah Currie were a great counterpoint to his leads. Especially the “bang-bang” hook she had. Joe Leeway skirted the edges of novelty with his character voices but I’ll grant him a pass on a song this much fun. Los Angeles agreed, because KROQ-FM apparently made this side of the single the airplay hit in Cali. No wonder I almost never saw the “You Take Me Up” video on MTV. But this was in contrast to the chart position in the UK, where the #2 attained by “You Take Me Up” stands as the band’s biggest hit there. It’s hard to believe that “Hold Me Now” only got to #4 comparatively in retrospect. But I’m pleased that such a strong single was their chart apex. That’s rare.

As it stood, I thought this single was the last gasp of the Thompson Twins sound that had made me a fan for a couple of years from ’84-’84. I still traded in the 12″ during the Great Vinyl Purge, but now I have it in spirit on the DLX RM of “Into The Gap;” a mixed blessing on CD all these years later. On just the basis of this single, one could be excused for thinking that the album would have been at least as good as “Quick Step And Side Kicks.”

– 30 –

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30 Responses to Record Review: Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up UK 12″

  1. Mathmandan says:

    I was a pretty big TT fan during that time, and thoroughly enjoyed the Side Kicks album. Overall I liked “Into the Gap” as well, although ironically not “Hold Me Now.” I skipped that track when I played the album and changed the station when it came on the radio. Like Spandau Ballet’s “True,” it just felt overly engineered for US pop chart success and for my tastes, the result was quite bland or even obnoxious.

    “Passion Planet” is one of my favorite fun songs of theirs, although I remember my little brother cringing every time I played it. I suppose it’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it tunes.

    I stuck by them for a while, though the next LP was quite disappointing to me. I did catch them on tour, with OMD opening, if you can imagine.

    Tom Bailey’s 2018 solo LP “Science Fiction” is pretty enjoyable listening actually.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mathmandan – I can well imagine the ’85/’86 tour with OMD since I saw two dates of it! Yeah, the comparison with “True” hits the nail on the head. I understand why songs like that exist. They make wheelbarrows of money and that has some cachet in this capitalist society. I just wish when after writing such tunes, the authors would see fit to offer the songs to sale for someone else to record, if they were bands that I liked whose styles were more left field. Becoming a pop whore is a terrible fate. Look at Bowie! The guy was lost in the wilderness for years! I thought he’d never find his voice again.

      Like

      • Tim says:

        Their best output post Here’s To Future Days was (Play With Me) Jane from the “Cool World” soundtrack. The movie version is this chugging techopop mix that just samples a line from the chorus, there’s a proper album mix of the song, too and it’s a really nice tune.

        Liked by 1 person

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – Well there we go. That whole “Cool World” movie was so toxic, and the Bowie track was nothing to write home about, that I gave the whole steaming pile a big pass! I didn’t even know that TT were on that OST.

          Like

          • Tim says:

            I didn’t even know it was TT when I first listened to it, just put the disk in and let it go.

            I bought the soundtrack largely as a way to obtain a copy of the sublime non-album track by Electronic (“Disappointed”) before it was released as a cd5, back in the dark ages before ala carte mp3 purchases.

            I actually saw the movie in the theater.
            G/F at the time was a Brad Pitt fan.
            The things we do for love.

            Like

  2. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,

    Thanks for stalking me. Haha.
    Just yesterday in the mail, i got the US 12 inch promo for this
    with the extended mix, and album version.

    I’ve been slowly filling the ‘gaps’ pun intended, with a lot
    of this era of 12 inches.’We are Detective’,
    the UK ‘lay your hands on me’, ‘Watching’ etc.

    I love this single, and this song. I still need all 4
    of the picture discs, the 3 part ones, and the single.
    The uk 7 inch, the austrialian cassingle someday,
    and the us promo 7 inch with the special edit.

    I already have the uk 12 inches, and i love the
    cool limited UK 12 inch with the ‘US remix’ versions
    on them. The mixes were almost industrial sounding.

    I had no idea this was their biggest hit in the UK,
    and i think thats great. I cant stand hold me now,
    or doctor doctor. but the instrumentals are ok.

    and this album even had a 5th single with ‘the gap’
    remixed, after ‘sisters of mercy’.

    later
    -1

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I’m not stalking you. Honest! I was surprised when I found out that this was their top UK single! For once the masses were right! It looks like we see eye-to-eye on this TT album. I thought “The Gap” was also another great single amid the three dull ones. I need that US 12” mix but it’s on that common best of CD from the 80s.

      Like

    • Mathmandan says:

      I was an avid collector at the time, and had all those picture discs. I thought the three jigsaw puzzle shaped ones were the coolest! I didn’t play picture discs often, so those sat in their bin for years unobserved. About a year ago I pulled them out, and I don’t know what exactly happened, but the plastic must have reacted with the PVC sleeves they came in. The picture discs had turned very dark brown; they were unrecognizable. All three of them!

      That US 12″ promo you just got–is it the same 12″ extended version as on the ltd “US Remix” 12″?

      Like

      • negative1ne says:

        Yes, picture discs usually turn brown through the years.
        And Yes, the promo has the same remixes as previously released.
        It was very cheap, so I got it anyways, as we didn’t get a domestic
        12 inch, only a 7 inch.
        later
        -1

        Like

  3. negative1ne says:

    HI Mr. Monk,
    typo in the first paragraph ‘came’ – ‘game-changer’.
    later
    -1

    Like

  4. jsd says:

    I saw the Twins on this tour, with Berlin opening. It was a beautiful summer night outside on Boston Common. In this atmosphere, the carnival vibe of Into The Gap really worked. Listening to the album now it’s kind of flaccid, especially compared to Side Kicks which I think is a real new wave/synthpop tour de force. But man, that concert was great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Taffy says:

      I was at that same TTwins/Berlin show in Boston (summer of 1984). indeed, a fun show, altho I preferred the weirdly eccentric performance for Sidekicks the year before (in Hartford, CT). Likewise for the albums, altho unlike the Monk I find Hold Me Now to be a lovely piece of new wave balladry (not that I’d want an album full of Hold Me Nows, mind you!).

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Taffy – I didn’t mind “Hold Me Now” the first dozen times I heard it! But I think I was rationalizing…

        Like

      • jsd says:

        Oh wow Taffy what are the odds. Did you see Thomas Dolby at the Orpheum too? (same year I think)

        Like

      • Tim says:

        There is a 20 minute long recording of the demo for Hold Me Now out there if you really want to test your endurance for that song.
        I think that this one and even the follow up album are fine. They’re not QS&SK but they are fine pop albums. The mid-80’s were not kind to almost every act that started off the decade, some flamed out faster than others, the TT are alright with me. Nice to see Passion Planet getting some love, one of my all time favorite tracks by them.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – And I thought the 9:45 12″ mix was aural waterboarding!

          Like

          • Tim says:

            I snagged the 20 min mix off of an old Yahoo TT fangroup.board….geez…..at least 12-13 years ago. There was a guy who had this really elaborate tag eLeMentA….something or other and he seemed to be some sort of super fan and posted all sorts of demos, rarities and he made his own mixes, many of which are quite good. I have a giant folder of this stuff.

            Like

        • negative1ne says:

          I decided to check into this so-called ‘demo’ version of ‘hold me now’,
          that lasts 20 minutes. at first i thought maybe somebody stuck the
          ‘let loving start’ version in front of the ‘extended’ mix.

          nope, it’s not even that creative. its just the normal 12 mix stuck
          twice in a row, and faded out slightly at the end. no differences,
          no musical changes, no rough sound, nothing.

          just a mislabeled fanmix, or improper encoding.

          nothing to see here, or listen to, move along.

          later
          -1

          Like

  5. Andy B says:

    I first became aware of the group when I heard the single ‘Love On Your Side’. On the strength of that and follow up ‘We Are Detective’ I bought ‘Quick Step & Side Kick’. It’s an album I really enjoyed and can still listen to. Although ‘Hold Me Now’ is a little slushy I liked it at the time. I was just starting my first relationship and I was all loved up. I think ‘Into The Gap’ is less interesting than the previous album but sold like hot cakes everywhere. As for ‘You Take Me Up’ I don’t have a strong opinion about it either way. Although I’m not a fan of using harmonica on electronic tracks.

    I thought ‘Here’s To Future Day’s’ was very disappointing. I liked the original UK release of ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ but thought Nile Rogers’ version was just too over the top. I didn’t care for the other singles. What made the group decide to record a version of ‘Revolution’? Never mind releasing it as a single. Of course Joe left and the hits dried up. I do have a soft spot though for some of the singles from the early 90’s.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      AndyB – Wha…?! Harmonica on electronic tracks can be brilliant! Just look at “Europa + The Pirate Twins,” Thomas Dolby’s finest moment! I think of “You Take Me Up” as being a folk song with the addition of an industrial rhythm track; a bold thing, actually. So in that context, the harmonica and melodica made perfect sense to me and contrasted nicely with the machine aspect. Especially since the harmonica was not the soul-deadening Stevie Wonder 80s kind!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim says:

        *cough* *cough* paging Prefab Sprout to the mid-80’s harmonica appreciation counter.
        But in all honesty the shadow of Thomas Dolby looms LARGE over those albums he worked on with them.
        You know how there was that trend for a while of orchestrated albums? I would love me a Prefab Sprout one, or even one where some of the TDMR influences were sanded down a bit. I LOVE “Enchanted” from “From Langley Park to Memphis” but there are some real TDMR influences on it that to be honest I wouldn’t miss.

        Like

        • jsd says:

          Thomas Dolby was not involved with “Enchanted”. He only did 4 tracks on Langley Park (King of Rock & Roll, I Remember That, Knock On Wood, Venus Of The Soup Kitchen).

          I love Enchanted just the way it is. Don’t change a single synth bleat :)

          Like

          • Tim says:

            Thanks!
            I suspect that you know the synth bleats that I write of….

            I always thought those were Dolby! Three out of those four are tracks that you list are ones that I really like from that album….KofR&R is the only clunker on that album in my opinion

            Like

            • jsd says:

              Yeah undoubtedly. I’m a sucker for an orchestra stab. Langely is a pretty weak album for me overall. The only tracks I really listen to are King of R&R, Cars & Girls, Enchanted and Golden Calf.

              Like

    • Tim says:

      Andy B – Alpha did a covers album of Revolution.
      They were the premier act on Massive Attack’s vanity label Melankolic with a fantastic album named Comefromheaven.
      The Revolution ep is available on Amazon, there’s three takes on it, all different, and a b-side if my memory is right.
      NOT the best intro to the Alpha sound but their takes on it are interesting in the context of their sound.

      Like

      • Andy B says:

        Tim – thanks for the heads up. I don’t mind the Beatles original but thought it was so untypical of what the Thompson Twins released at the time. I will check out Alpha’s version. Cheers.

        Like

        • Tim says:

          When you’re looking at Amazon (or iTunes if it is there) I suggest version 1, I am a huge Alpha fan but I passed on 2 and 3. Version 1 hits their sound circa their 3rd proper album, the sound kinda mutates over the albums and YMMV but if you’re gonna give Corin a buck give it to him for version 1.

          Like

  6. I was never that fond of any of TT’s “hit singles,” (until “Sugar Daddy”) but I had a lot of time for most of their b-sides during their imperial period. Once they went completely commercial and crap (Here’s to Future Days, I think) I completely gave up on them until “Sugar Daddy.” I should probably have a re-listen to their deep cut catalog from the early days, but what I found most interesting from TT was what I first heard on Recorder Three back in ’81, which must have been pre-Alannah Curry. Off-topic, I have the second and third (last) of these “vinyl music mags,” but not the first one! I should complete the set someday!

    Like

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