THE FAVOURITES – history of an (almost) legendary powerpop band.
Formed from the ashes of Plummet Airlines in the winter of 1977-1978, The Favourites existed for two years until late 1979, playing live and recording two well-received singles, and leaving a selection of unreleased songs written by singer Darryl Hunt and guitarist Duncan Kerr, most of which are contained in the album “New Feeling”, along with the two singles. Setlists and hazy recollections show that there were a fair number of other, unrecorded songs and a bunch of covers, but they remain undiscovered.
Plummet Airlines lasted from mid 1974 to late 1977, with Harry Stephenson on lead vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar and main songwriter, Darryl Hunt on bass and backing vocals, Richard Booth and Duncan Kerr on electric guitars and b.v.s, and Keith Gotheridge on drums (after Simon Blaydon in 1974). Meeting at Trent Polytechnic as students in the early 1970s, Harry and Darryl played in a couple of college bands before settling with Richard, Duncan and eventually Keith as Glider (from a Captain Beefheart title) soon to be changed to Plummet Airlines. Gigs quickly pushed the band to write and develop a distinctive approach which led to enthusiastic responses, first in Nottingham at a weekly residency at the Imperial pub, then in London on the pub-rock circuit (40 gigs at The Hope and Anchor in Islington), then on to gigs all around England. Management almost secured a full record deal but only two singles were released before the band fell apart in frustration in late 1977. It wasn’t the only band to be swept away in the face of punk and New Wave bands.
Out of the ashes, or maybe the crash, of the Plummets, rose the Power Pop of The Favourites. Darryl and Duncan had always liked 60s bands like the Beatles, Byrds and The Who, not forgetting the Velvet Underground, the Stooges and recent throwbacks like the Flaming Groovies. The pair were approached by two eager young musicians Kevin Green amd Tony Berrington, whose punky band The GTs had supported Plummets once; they wanted to join up on bass and guitar, having seen Darryl sing a couple of his own songs at that gig, and reckoning that he should just concentrate on singing, songwriting and fronting a new band. The Favourites, with Keith still on drums, soon dropped the long guitar solos and looseness of the Plummets, in the process losing as many fans as they gained with the new approach. An eager management team, Miles Palmer and Danny Wright, found gigs for the band in London and round the country, supporting The Only Ones, Rich Kids, Tom Robinson Band, Vibrators, Squeeze, Yachts and the original powerpoppers The Pleasers. On their label, 4-Play Records, two singles followed, which are now highly sought-after by fans of original Power Pop; a revitalised cover of “S.O.S.” by Abba, played approvingly by John Peel and Annie Nightingale on Radio One in the late spring of 1979, and “Angelica”, a song by Jesse Lynn Dean of The Wasps, a punk band immortalised on “Live at The Roxy”. Drummer Paul Betts from the GTs replaced Keith Gotheridge, who was deemed not punky enough by Kev and Tony, in a make-or-break move which still troubles Duncan and Darryl, notwithstanding Paul’s drumming talents.
Things looked promising for the band, but impatience, frustration and disagreement about moving to London from Nottingham meant that the band broke up in late 1979. A couple more songs were recorded with (and gigs played with) guitarist Alan Fearn, later to find some success in the US charts with the band Blue Train.
Darryl went on to play in several local North London bands before replacing Cait O’Riordan on bass in The Pogues for the last 30 years. Keith Gotheridge has played superb drums for even longer in the Darts (Doo-Wop/Fifties R’n’B chart hitters) and numerous other bands. Duncan Kerr also played in the Darts for four years, has played in numerous other bands, currently with Brainiac 5 and Proudfoot. Kevin and Tony formed the excellent Deadbeats, a 60s-style rockabilly band fronted by singer and songwriter Suzy May, whose album “On Tar Beach” was reissued on Ace in 2015.