Monday, May 11, 2009

King For A Day

Wham!, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Nik Kershaw, Yazoo, Depeche Mode, Howard Jones. Back in the 1980's if I had lived in the UK and had even one pop loving friend I could have gone to see these artists at the height of their pop fame in concert. How I loved them then and still do now. I had to make do with the many vinyl singles I bought of their music and for better value the Now That's What I Call Music or Hits albums and of course the pages of Smash Hits! magazine which I bought each fortnight in my Uncle Tom's shop.

Across the street from my uncle's shop in Kilkenny was, and still is, Sherwoods which sold washing machines, cookers, TV's and record turntables. They also had a music department and each week a new batch of 7" and 12" singles would arrive in. This was when it took weeks for a single to climb to the top ten. It was there that I didn't buy Madonna's first ever picture disc because I didn't like the picture used. It was her bride-Virgin look, but most of my vinyl I still own comes from purchases in that shop. The music buyers must have either totally loved pop music or just bought in every new single which suited me fine. Pop star wise nothing very exciting happened in Kilkenny, very few "pop" acts played even in Dublin whereas nowadays there is a major concert every night. In 1985 I was almost 16 and one day browsing in Sherwoods I noticed two people who didn't look very Kilkenny. Strangers. Fabulous strangers. I think I had a "moment" of OH!!!MY!!GOODGOD!!! when I realised that 100% genuine pop stars were standing at the other end of the shop; Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie looking very pop starry. I'm sure some of the people in the shop recognised them but as most of Kilkenny preferred to idolise U2, The Cure or Bon Jovi there wasn't a big crowd around them.
I went and swiftly got the only 12" record of theirs that the shop had on sale. That month it sadly wasn't one of their most famous songs like You Take Me Up,  Doctor! Doctor! or Hold me Now instead it was Don't Mess with Doctor Dream but I had something to get an autograph on. I wish I could remember what both said as they signed the record sleeve for an excited me. Alannah's hair and make up were straight from her Top of the Pops appearances and Tom looked lovely too.
Of course I had to go and feck up this moment but I guess it made it more memorable when I asked "Where's Joe?", Joe Leeway the all important third Twin. I got a muted, quick reply but that was the start and end of my music journalist career, well I was only 15. A year later Joe would leave the group officially but just the month before they had been on Live Aid. Madonna jigging away like a mad thing to their song Revolution, looking back I'm sure I wanted to ask something about Madonna but I never did. While reading on Wikipedia about the group it is now 30 years since Tom Bailey was a founding member of a much larger Thompson Twins band. By 1983 the band were a trio and had several hit singles. Don't Mess with Doctor Dream only got to number 15 in the UK chart, the follow up King for a Day stalled at number 22 and Joe and Alannah would continue on alone the following year. In a way I had met the band, or two of them, at the changing moment of their time in the sun.

I think that meeting the Thompson Twins that day cemented my lifetime love for pop music and as I get older something I have to justify as what I like is often ridiculed but so what. While I love songs like Doctor! Doctor! and Hold me now my favourite Thompson Twins song is Sister of Mercy, the video is featured below. No pop stars ever crossed my path again in Kilkenny, plenty would appear in Dublin but they are other stories for now.

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