At about the time the Thompson Twins Quick Step and Side Kick arrived in 1983, English new wave music nearly dominated the American pop charts, so much so that people were calling it the Second British Invasion. As invasion go, it was not a hostile take over. During this period much of the dire, gloomy sounding new romantic synthesizer bands had given way or evolved their style to bright electronic pop with plenty of drum kit driven rhythms.
The Thompson Twins were one of the better dance pop bands of the period. They never tried making heavy political statements, they just wanted to dance. With a title like Quick Step and Side Kick, you would have been correct to assume that there was some dancing to be done. In addition to featuring Grace Jones on the single ‘Watching’ with its slow motion vocals, the album would feature other tracks that would define slick mid ’80s new wave pop.
Quick Step and Side Kick was the Thompson Twin’s first hit album in America and was the first to be widely distributed. I remember it being one of the feature albums during my tenure on the Columbia House Music Club (that’s where the highschool me got most of my music then). By the time it made it to record clubs its run of singles in the US were nearly over with ‘Love On Your Side’ making it to #9 on the Billboard singles chart. ‘Lies’ would follow in the US with various songs making an impact on pop and dance charts globally.
In all there would be four singles, making the biggest impact on the dance floors of Europe. That would be after all where the Thompson Twins would get their start. As for pressings, there were as many versions of the album as there were singles from it. Europe had its own version of the LP with song sequences and remixes that were different from that in the US. And then there were the cassettes (which I never bought for fidelity reasons) with sequences and song versions all its own. My Columbia House record was different from the retail version with slightly different cover art (which was not unusual for some record club issues).
The album would get a further boost as the ballad ‘If You Were Here’ was featured in the film Sixteen Candles. The interesting quirks that made the Thompson Twins would seem to be ironed away as they ascended to pop charts by 1985. While Quick Step was only their third studio album it was the last one to feature the bands raw signature sound with minor pop sensibilities. After that The Thompson Twins sound became almost indistinguishable from that of Wang Chung, Howard Jones or any number of radio friendly new wave acts.