AN ALBUM THAT NEVER WAS, AND HOW IT CAME TO BE……….
Sometime in early 1978, The Favourites were writing, arranging and rehearsing new songs in Nottingham for this new band, to replace or to add to earlier songs from the last few months of Plummet Airlines and the GTs. Setlists of gigs in those early months show that The Favourites quickly had 20-25 numbers, including a few suitable covers as well as songs which were soon to be discarded as the band’s sound and direction became clearer. Darryl became a full-time singer, Kevin thundered around on his bass with a self-imposed, no-frills discipline , Duncan and Tony meshed and swapped their rhythm and lead guitars together so well that it’s not easy to spot who’s doing what, while first drummer Keith, skilful and imaginative, and, later, second drummer Paul, a rush of punchy powerpop wallop, were both exciting in their own ways.
Around Spring 1978, the band was approached by Danny Wright and Miles Palmer to become managers, and in July the band was recording two songs (“Only Wanna Love You” and “Talk About It”) at Surrey Sound, a big studio at the time. More recording took place in October 1978 at Sin City, the new Nottingham studio of friend (and first manager of Plummet Airlines) Byron Sacorafos, who was installing and learning how to use his new equipment. There’s a distinct echo/reverb sound on these eight recordings, among which are different versions of “Favourite Shoes” and “Cold”, later to be re-arranged and re-recorded as B-sides to the two singles.
In May 1979, at Spaceward, a studio in Cambridge favoured by Punk and New Wave bands, the band recorded its first single, a beefed-up, speedy version of Abba’s “S.O.S”, partly homage, partly just for the hell of it, Abba being Anathema to anyone not seduced by Top Of The Pops. It was a Post Modern gesture before the term existed. Released on the managers’ own label 4-Play, with a witty “interview” of sorts with Darryl talking about the band, music, football, a Smash Hits parody. “Favourite Shoes” on the B-side was followed by an un-credited instrumental (“Go!”) by Kevin, the front sleeve had pink S.O.S. stickers. John Peel and Annie Nightingale played it and plans were quickly made to follow it, this time with a cover of “Angelica” written by Jesse Lynn-Dean, singer of another punky power-pop band, The Wasps. Recorded at Decca’s famous West Hampstead studio, the single came out with a sleeve parody of Blondie’s “Eat To The Beat” album front cover, which required only the three band members who most resembled Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Frank Infante, leaving the distinct impression to future fans that the band was a 3-piece. Hard luck, Duncan and Paul, erased from history, replaced on the back sleeve by another set of questions and answers with Darryl, plus references to the Undertones and Subbuteo (football again). When the original tape was investigated in 2015, there was a surprise extra track, “I’m Alone In The Darkness”, good enough to make it on to this album.
But no sooner had the second single come out, hot on the heels of “S.O.S.”, than the band fell apart from frustration and disagreements about whether to move from Nottingham to London, where Duncan and Darryl wanted the band to be based.
In 1980, Duncan, Darryl and original drummer Keith got together with friend and fan Alan Fearn (guitar) to play a couple of gigs in London, and at the same time to re-record “Private Eyes” and to record “Perfect Partners” and “Love Hurt Me”, the latter left off the album because no-one knows who wrote it or why Duncan sings it!