You Say It's Your Birthday: Alannah Currie of Thompson Twins and Babble

Today is the 39th birthday of the Thompson Twins' percussionist and singer

Alannah Currie. She was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, the

daughter of a hard living dock worker who left the family when she was

five. Before moving to the U.K. in 1979, she had worked as a factory

worker, a tobacco picker and a radio journalist. Having moved to London in

the peak of the punk rock era, she soon found herself playing wailing,

emotional but untrained saxophone in the all-girl punk band the

Unfuckables. Thompson Twins bassist and lead singer Tom Bailey met

Currie in 1980 and encouraged her to play a few live shows with his band.

She blended in well with the group's sound and officially joined the band

as their saxophone player a few months later. In the summer of 1980

Thompson Twins roadie Joe Leeway began to play bongos on stage and soon

after became a full member of the band. While the Thompson Twins are now

well known for being a trio, when Leeway joined the band it brought the

grand total up to seven.

In 1981 the band signed with Arista Records and released their first album,

a commercial flop called A Product of. . .. After 1981's Set

(released in the U.S. as In The Name Of Love), the band's extraneous

players were fired and all that remained were Currie, Leeway and Bailey.

The new Thompson Twins released their first album in 1983, the synth-pop

tour de force Quick Step And Side Kick (released as Side

Kicks in North America). The album was a huge hit, based on the

strength of the singles "Lies," "Love On Your Side," and "We Are

Detective," and helped to usher in a musical era dominated by synth playing

musicians from England with big hair. 1984's Into The Gap was also

a success, selling over 5,000,000 copies worldwide and producing such hits

as "Hold Me Now" and "Doctor! Doctor!" Bailey collapsed from nervous

exhaustion while producing the follow-up LP, Here's To Future Days,

and Nile Rodgers was brought in to help finish the job. When it was finally

released in 1985, Here's To Future Days gave the Thompson Twins one

last hit, "Lay Your Hands On Me." Leeway left the Thompson Twins in 1986,

making the Twins a duo, quite literally. Currie gave birth to Bailey's

child in 1988 and the Thompson Twins continued onward, mostly by

contributing songs to soundtracks and charity compilations. In September

1991, Bailey and Currie released their last album under the moniker of the

Thompson Twins, a dance-pop collection titled Queer. Masquerading

as "Feedback Max" in the U.K., the first single "Come Inside" reached #1

on the U.K. Dance Charts before people discovered the band's true identity.

The album, subsequently, was never released in England. In 1994, Bailey

and Currie resurfaced as members of an ambient act called Babble. Babble

released The Stone in 1994 and Ether in 1995, both of which

did nothing on the charts or in the ambient scene. The band finally called

it quits earlier this year.

Other birthdays: Gogi Grant, 73; Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann's Earth Band),

51; Chuck & John Panozzo (Styx), 48 and Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden), 29.