For a couple of decades now, we’ve been blaming the Boomers. And there’s good reason for it. Their narcissism followed up Woodstock with a bunch of STDs, the persistent treatment of women as sex objects (Love the One You’re With, indeed) and then self-centered approaches to business and politics. They say people grow more conservative as they grow older, but I think the Boomers have been remarkably consistent. They matter, and you don’t.
But what about us? Do we Gen Xers deserve any of the blame for a world in which democracy and reasoned capitalism, the values that the pre-Boomers fought to instill in the modern world, are in decline?
Let’s talk about it. This is X Marks the Pod. (This one is also available on Spreaker and should go out to Apple and Google.)
Hello, Gen Xers and Gen X sympathizers! Quick note on show notes today — I’m going to start doing these episodes as both a podcast AND a blog post, so you can check them out on the medium of your choice. Here on the site, you can scan through the transcript and see more links and videos, but I recommend listening to the podcast. Especially if you’re driving.
Here we go …
One mistake a lot of people make in looking at 80s music is dismissing pop musicians because they have nice hair or funny videos or whatever. Critics wrote off Duran Duran as pretty boys, only later realizing that John Taylor is a fantastic funk bass player and Nick Rhodes is a keyboard pioneer.
And when you think of the Thompson Twins, the first thing you think of is probably hair.
That’s not fair.
You might also think they were a band that had a superfluous member or two — the classic “What did Andrew Ridgeley contribute to Wham?” question. After all, bands of that era sometimes recruited people specifically for their looks. That was taken to an extreme when the band ABC added a blonde bombshell (who happened to be an irreverent music journalist) and a very short, bald Japanese man, neither of whom played any instruments.
In Thompson Twins, Tom Bailey was the lead singer, the guitarist, the keyboardist, the bassist and the co-producer. Alannah Currie, in addition to having the most eye-catching hair this side of A Flock of Seagulls, sang backup and played percussion. Joe Leeway was pictured with a bass on occasion and played a bit of keyboards live, but he was hired as a conga player and backup singer who came to the band as a roadie after a brief career in theater.
Thompson Twins were a trio (yes, we know, they’re neither Thompsons nor twins — it’s apparently a literary allusion of some kind) after they got rid of all the members of a traditional rock band — two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer.
But just as you can’t write off image-conscious bands, you can’t write off image-conscious members. Watch Thompson Twins videos and live clips, and you’ll see that Currie can play. And if you track their career, you’ll see that they tailed off after Leeway left, which may or may not be coincidental.
Before that happened, they had one of those careers in which they were only big for 3-4 years, but they packed a lot into those years. A LOT.
When the Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000, the talented, tortured genius of Billy Corgan was on display again in Zwan, a band with the Pumpkins’ monster drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, future Pixies bassist/vocalist Paz Lenchantin, and dual guitarist Matt Sweeney and David Pajo. It’s a pity it didn’t work out.
Housekeeping note: If you prefer other platforms to Spotify, good news — I’m re-editing previous episodes for Spreaker, Apple and Google, where episodes will be available for a limited time. See next post (above, since this is reverse chronological).
This episode won’t be on other platforms because it’s dependent on music at Spotify.
In 1985, an up-and-coming band from Athens, Ga., released a quirky album that seemed a little puzzling to themselves, let alone a general audience. But in retrospect, how important was this album to the band’s development? And how good is it in its own right?
This is a Spotify/Anchor exclusive, taking advantage of the feature in which we can embed songs. If you’re a Premium user, you should get the whole song (though you can skip it if you like). Otherwise, you get 30 seconds, not of my choosing.