Beware the novelty record, as it can ruin a promising career. To be fair to Streetband, a group fronted by Paul Young early in his career, the song they became most closely associated with was not intended for radio airplay. Toast was the flip side of their debut single and probably wouldn’t even have made it on to an album: it was just an amusing B-side. Once it was championed by radio DJs though, it became a favourite with the public so quickly that Logo Records decided to reissue the single and make Toast the A-side. It was a hit, making the Top 20, but as this was all the public knew about Streetband they were assumed to be a comedy outfit and never had another charting single. Fortunately, this wasn’t the end for Young. Winding Streetband up, along with band mates John Gifford (guitar) and Mick Pearl (bass) he formed Q-tips whose debut single was the first release from independent label Shotgun 35 years ago today.
Formed in late ’79, Q-tips made their live debut on 18 November that year. They went on to perform at over a dozen gigs during their first month in business, quickly establishing a reputation for putting on a good show. (It is estimated that during their less than three years as a going concern, they made over 800 live appearances; they are better remembered for their stage work than their studio sessions.) While Streetband’s influences were principally rock and pop, the new band was oriented more to blue-eyed soul to which Young’s voice was ideally suited.
Some small alterations were made to Q-tip’s personnel in the early months, but the additions of Barry Watts (drums) and Ian Kewley (keyboards) were lasting, as was the inclusion of a brass section that completed their line-up: the band’s logo, as used on the label of their first single, depicted a letter ‘Q’ with the tail stroke replaced with a saxophone in reference to this element of their distinctive sound. That debut, S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song) (those letters standing for ‘save your sweet love just for me’) was a cover of an old Joe Tex song that had been a hit for him in the US in the mid-60s but was not so well-known in the UK. It wasn’t a hit, but it was enough for Chrysalis to offer the group a new recording deal.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Mar. 21
JAPAN (David Sylvian) I Second That Emotion (Ariola Hansa AHA559)
Q-TIPS (Paul Young) S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song) (Shotgun SHOOT ONE)
KAJAGOOGOO Ooh To Be Ah (EMI EMI5383)
U2 Two Hearts Beat As One (Island ISD109)
Bryan FERRY Is Your Love Strong Enough (EG FERRY4)
The JESUS AND MARY CHAIN Sidewalking (Blanco Y Negro NEG32)
PET SHOP BOYS Heart (Parlophone R6177)
SADE (Sade Adu) Love Is Stronger Than Pride (Epic SADE1)
T’PAU (Carol Decker) Sex Talk (Live) (Siren SRN80)