Tom Tom Club is an American new wave band founded in 1981 by husband-and-wife team Tina Weymouthand Chris Frantz, both also known for being members of Talking Heads. Their best known hits include "Wordy Rappinghood," "Genius of Love," and a cover of The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk," all released on their 1981 debut album Tom Tom Club.
Originally established as a side project from Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club comprised a loose aggregation of musicians, sound engineers, and artists of the Compass Point All Stars family, including Tina Weymouth's sisters and guitarist Adrian Belew, the latter of whom toured with Weymouth and Frantz in the expanded version of Talking Heads in 1980 and 1981. Named after the dancehall in the Bahamas where they rehearsed for the first time while on hiatus from Talking Heads in 1980, Tom Tom Club enjoyed early success in the dance club culture of the early 1980s with the hits "Genius of Love" and "Wordy Rappinghood," both of which were taken from their self-titled first album released on Sire and Warner Bros. Records in the US and Island Recordselsewhere in 1981.
"Genius of Love" has been sampled or reinterpreted by many artists, including L'Trimm, Redman, Funkdoobiest, and Mariah Carey in her hit single "Fantasy." "It's Nasty" (1982) by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Fivewas one of the early hip-hop versions of the song; however, the sample was re-recorded by a live band rather than just taken from the original recording, as was common practice at the time. Another version, "Genius Rap" (1981), by Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, was the first cover version. Max B also sampled "Genius of Love" in his single "Get Outta Jail."
Early British pressings of the first Tom Tom Club album featured shorter versions of "Genius of Love" and "Wordy Rappinghood," but to capitalize on the club success of these songs, Island Records reissued the album with the full 12-inch versions in 1982. A new single, a cover version of The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk", which was the group's second and final UK Top 40 hit, replaced another song "Booming and Zooming." The US version did not contain these modifications until the album was released on compact disc in the 1990s.
The following year, the group released a follow-up, Close to the Bone, which was similar in style to their first album but didn't fare as well, though "The Man with the Four Way Hips" was a minor hit on urban radio in the US. The album was released on cassette and vinyl and was not released on CD until May 2009, as part of a Deluxe Edition package of Tom Tom Club's first album. The original British vinyl album was released in six different colors. One of the album's singles, "Pleasure of Love," was sampled in "Turning You On," by the Treacherous Three. As it happened with "It's Nasty," the sample was re-recorded by a live band rather than just taken from the original recording.
"Genius of Love" was featured in the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense (filmed in December 1983.) Frantz and Weymouth were credited as Tom Tom Club, but in this case the band was simply the Talking Heads minus David Byrne.
There was then a four-year gap until the band's next album, the first version of Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom, released in 1988. By this stage, the band's non-US deal with Island had expired and the album was released outside the US on Fontana/PolyGram. On the album, the group adapted a more conventional rock style with a harder edged sound and a hint of menace in the lyrics of some songs. The group's line-up was also solidified along more conventional commercial lines. Whereas the previous two albums had been recorded by a loose collective of a dozen musicians, the band was now reduced to the trio of Weymouth, Frantz, and Weymouth's sister Laura Weymouth. There were, however, a number of prominent guest musicians on the record, including Lou Reed and Talking Heads' front man David Byrne on a cover of Reed's "Femme Fatale." The fourth member of Talking Heads, Jerry Harrison, also featured on some tracks. As with Close to the Bone, the album was not a commercial success although "Suboceana" received some radio play, mainly in the UK, and the single "Don't Say No" made the UK Top 100 (Tom Tom Club's fifth, and to date final, single to do so). The album was the first Tom Tom Club album to be issued on CD and the Japanese CD version featured an added bonus track, the B-side "Devil, Does Your Dog Bite?" which was also featured on thesoundtrack to the film Married to the Mob. "Suboceana" was also remixed for dance clubs by house music pioneer Marshall Jefferson.
The following year, in a bid to recapture the attention of the US market, the group and Sire Records decided to issue a radically altered version of the album in the US. The US version of Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom replaced four songs with four others, one of which, "I Confess," was a total overhaul of the original album's "Mighty Teardrop." The running order of the rest of the album was shuffled while the artwork was revamped. However, the changes had little effect on the album's US commercial success.
In 1991, Frantz and Weymouth built the Clubhouse, a painting and music studio, over their garage near Gamecock Island, Connecticut. In 1992, they released the fourth Tom Tom Club album, Dark Sneak Love Action, which included a cover of Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing." The album focused on the burgeoning techno music scene. A single, "Sunshine and Ecstasy," featured remixes by Roger Sanchez.
The group's next album, The Good, the Bad, and the Funky, was released in 2000 and featured cover versions of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" and Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Soul Fire." One of the album's tracks, "Who Feelin' It," was also featured in remixed form in the soundtrack album of the 1999 filmAmerican Psycho. Among the musicians on The Good, the Bad, and the Funky are Jamaican singer Mystic Bowie, Charles Pettigrew and Toots Hibbert ofToots and the Maytals. The album's release was followed by one European and several American tours.
In 2002, Frantz and Weymouth, along with their former Talking Heads bandmates, were inducted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A complete live concert was released in 2003 on the double CD Live @ the Clubhouse, recorded at Tom Tom Club's regular hide-out studio, the Clubhouse in Connecticut in front of an audience of fifty guests. Tom Tom Club has been doing incidental live shows since.
In 2007, the band released a special Christmas single called "Mistletunes", containing two specially recorded Christmas songs: "Il est né" and "Christmas in the Club," which featured Mystic Bowie and scratcher/turntableist Kid Ginseng (Weymouth and Frantz's son). The single was released by Dutch indie label La La Land Records, which was founded by the former Tom Tom Club merchandise crew. In 2009, a deluxe expanded edition of the band's first album was released, with Close to the Bone added on disc 2. That marked the first time the latter was ever released on CD in its entirety. On September 28, 2010, the band released Genius of Live on Nacional Records. The album featured tracks from the album Live @ the Clubhouse as well as remix tributes of "Genius of Love" by such artists as Ozomatli, Nortec Collective, Kinky, Mexican Institute of Sound, Money Mark and The Pinker Tones. Their first studio material in twelve years, Downtown Rockers, was released in 2012 on Nacional Records.
|1981||Tom Tom Club||23||—||—||18||32||78|
|1983||Close to the Bone
|1988||Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom
|1992||Dark Sneak Love Action
|2000||The Good, the Bad, and the Funky
|1981||"Wordy Rappinghood"||—||1||—||1||9||18||2||35||7||Tom Tom Club|
|"Genius of Love"||31||—||26||—||—||—||28||65|
|1982||"Under the Boardwalk"||—||31||6||3||—||42||9||3||22|
|1983||"The Man with the Four Way Hips"||—||4||—||—||—||—||—||—||82||Close to the Bone|
|"Pleasure of Love"||—||23||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1988||"Don't Say No"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||79||Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom|
|1989||"Call of the Wild"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1992||"Sunshine and Ecstasy"||—||9||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Dark Sneak Love Action|
|"You Sexy Thing"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2000||"Love to Love You Baby"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||The Good, the Bad, and the Funky|
|"Happiness Can't Buy Money"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|