Monday, June 13, 2016

Thompson Twins - A Product Of... (Participation)

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of A Product Of...(Participation), the debut album from the Thompson Twins. Initially the group consisted of six members: Tom Bailey (bass, lead vocals, keyboards, percussion), Chris Bell (drums, backing vocals, percussion), Peter Dodd (guitar, backing vocals, percussion, saxophone), Joe Leeway (congas, backing vocals, percussion), John Roog (guitar, backing vocals, percussion) and Jane Shorter (saxophone, percussion). Bailey and Leeway would remain with the group as the decade continued.

Side one begins with "When I See You", a mid-tempo guitar and percussion driven number with a lot of frantic energy.

"Politics" looks at coupling relationships in a way of one person trying to obtain a position of power over the other. It also served as the B-side to the first single.

"Slave Trade" features primitive, tribal percussion and a squealing sax. It actually offers the first glimpse at elements that would later
appear in the group's more known songs.

The prominent ringing guitars return with "Could Be Her...Could Be You", a song that is unsure of who to blame for a failing relationship.

The third single was "Make Believe" which tells of a man who copes with his loneliness by imagining others are in his life.

The guitars on "Don't Go Away" mirror well the begging tone of the vocals.

Side two opens with the slower tempo of "The Price".

"Oumma Aularesso (Animal Laugh)", the second single, incorporates some more African chants and percussion. It actually is my favorite track on the album as its rhythmic hooks really stay with me.

Next up is "Anything Is Good Enough".

The title track "A Product Of..." follows. Another guitar-based number, this has a sound that is a hybrid of the Police and Romeo Void, two early new-wave pioneers.

The first single was "Perfect Game", a dark and mysterious narrative that plays off of key phrase repetition.

The album closes with "Vendredi Saint" which refers to Good Friday and the resurrection of Christ. The song, however, starts with simple chanting and is then joined by a rhythm. What is striking is the end which introduces sounds of screeching monkeys. I definitely do not know what to make of this one.

The 2008 re-issue of the album on CD included another eleven bonus tracks, including some original versions of the main album tracks, some extended versions, and some original songs recorded by Bailey in the late 70's.

I was not aware of this album back in the 1980's. It was not until 2012 when I picked up a copy of A Product Of... (Participation) on CD as part of a multi-disc box set of the Thompson Twins' albums. Having been a fan since their third album, I found this debut interesting to see where they started and what was the foundation of their sound. The variety of musical layers make the compositions intriguing. They definitely had a more raw, rock vibe going with this record.

For more from the Thompson Twins, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Mine is same story as yours.

Never knew this album existed until picking it up as part of the box set.

For the record, my first Twins vinyl was their second US release Side Kicks in 1982.