Thomas Dolby

Europa and the Pirate Twins

Song Review by

The first single from Thomas Dolby's 1982 solo debut, The Golden Age of Wireless, "Europa and the Pirate Twins" is a hyperactive synth pop classic, the sort of song that's so desperate to engage the listener's attention that every nook and cranny is stuffed with some sort of ear-grabbing hook: a nagging high-register synth that echoes the vocal melody of the chorus, a clattering electronic drum line that erupts periodically, instruments leaping out unexpectedly and at odd angles, even a bluesy little harmonica solo (courtesy of XTC's Andy Partridge) buried deep in the mix. And all that's just in the intro. The tersely telegraphic lyrics (which Dolby claims are based on a real-life incident) start off with an evocative memory of an adolescent playmate, who later becomes a famous supermodel who snubs him at an airport. Packing a remarkable amount of detail into two short verses and a bridge, the song resolves with a soaring, bittersweet chorus. The remix collection 12x12 features an extended version of the song that adds a negligible 40 seconds.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Golden Age of Wireless 1982 Capitol 3:20
No Image 1984 Sony Music Distribution
Rock of the 80's, Vol. 3 [Cema] 1992
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 3:17
The Best of Thomas Dolby: Retrospectacle 1995 Capitol / EMI Records 3:19
1981: 20 Original Chart Hits 1997
Various Artists
A Time To Remember 3:20
Premium Gold Collection 1998 EMI Electrola 3:20
Back 2 Back Hits 1998 EMI-Capitol Special Markets 3:20
Hyperactive! 1999 Disky 0:00
Original Electro Album, Vol. 2 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:18
The Original Electro-Pop Box Set 2007
Various Artists
EMI 3:21
Playlist: Electro 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 3:21
This Is 1981 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 3:19
The Singular Thomas Dolby 2009 EMI Music Distribution / EMI 3:19
Original Album Series 2016 Rhino
Classic Pop: Synthpop
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 3:20