An article by Chris Freer
Here's the guff I promised. First of all a bit of then and now about Leicester and us....
There were four of us in a little Leicester-based company called 'S+T'. We all had full-time jobs and this was a sideline.
Paul Betts and myself were old friends living in a village called Barrow-upon-Soar in Leicestershire. We'd previously run a Punk fanzine called Terminally Blitzed' which ran from September 1977 to April 1978 and featured local and national bands.
By 1979 we'd decided we were now Mods and set up a new fanzine, the title of which varied with each issue but was always "S+T" eg Sin & Tonic, Smooth & Tight, Sorts & Type etc. We advertised for like-minded souls and met up with two guys from the other side of Leicester (Countesthorpe I think) called Kevin 'Reverb' Bayliss and Mike 'Dawkeye' Dawkins. So now we were 4.
Paul decided we were gonna form a record label and S+T Recordings was born. The policy was that the four of us would pay all the production costs and individual bands would pay their own recording costs. We'd then split the records 50-50 and make our respective monies back. We advertised this in S+T and a pub band called The Amber Squad got in touch. They were actually based in Oakham (not Leicester as is usually quoted when their name appears on the internet.) We went to see them playing live, liked the sound, and proposed they came up with a couple of self-penned tracks as the first S+T single.
(I Can't) Put My Finger on You was released in Spring 1980 and got airplay on Radio One's Roundtable and subsequent Kid Jensen shows. I can't remember how many we had pressed - maybe 500 - but I seem to recall it sold so well we had to have a re-press. It now changes hands for up to £100 between people who think The Amber Squad were a mod band. They weren't. The reason this misconception occurred is because Paul's artwork for the record label featured a scooter. The S+T guys were the mods. The Amber Squad were just four country lads who played pop songs in pubs. Illusion shattered!
We followed up with my favourite S+T record, but sadly the one that sold the least. The Observers were a talented Leicester 5-piece whose music defies description. I thought they'd go far but they imploded shortly after the single came out later in 1980. We gave a lot of thought to the sleeve artwork and settled on a gatefold affair. Paul's girlfriend stripped to her undies to illustrate the B-side track 'Suicide'. The A-side was This Age.
Sadly nobody liked it but me and we ended up giving loads away with the compilation album.
Third and final S+T single was by another Leicester-area based New Romantic band called 'Future Toys'. These guys were good and very 'Spandau Duran-ish'. Perfect Strangers was released on July 17th 1981 and sold reasonably well without any noticeable airplay. A fourth single was due out from a Groby band called New Age but they got an offer from another company and jumped ship. It was their call but we were a little pissed-off about it.
In the meantime 'Where the Hell Is Leicester' had been released......
I have all the copies of 'Terminally Blitzed' fanzine and the seven issues of S+T which were produced. After that we worked in conjunction with a guy called Gary Knight on a Leicester Music mag called 0533 (July 1980 to Jan 1981) and when he jacked it in after 7 issues we picked up the slack with a magazine called 'Biggles up The Fosse' (April 1981-September 1982) which concentrated solely on local bands. I have all the copies (18) of this too - a great source of reference!
My plan is to set up a website (when I get time!) and page-flip all the issues online. I also have a lot of demo cassettes of Leicester bands circa 1982-3 which I want to digitise and put online. There was also a compilation video which we didn't produce but I have a copy which is still pretty viewable. If i can get this digitised it will go on the site. Technically speaking all the songs on the S+T single and album were published by Cherry Red Music (although i can't recall anybody getting a penny from airplay) so I'd probably have issues trying to put them online.
Incidentally, whilst Paul, Dawkeye and myself plodded on in relative obscurity, Reverb switched from being a mod to a greaser and formed a band called Crazyhead which released some critically-acclaimed stuff in the late 80s.
Read about WHERE THE HELL IS LEICESTER.
Well I hope that's not bored you too much. You've had the potted history of S+T which I hope will be online sometime in the (near) future.
Thanks for being interested!
ST-1 THE AMBER SQUAD - (I Can't) Put My Finger On You (7") 1980
ST-2 OBERVERS - This Age (7") 1980
ST-3 FUTURE TOYS - Perfect Strangers (7") 1981
STAB 1 VARIOUS - Where The Hell Is...Leicester? (LP) 1981