Thompson Twins: You Take Me Up UK 12″ 
- You Take Me Up/Machines Take Me Over
- Down Tools
- Leopard Ray
- 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.”
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