ALMOST THERE | ISSUE NINE
Great B-sides I have known
No. 3 Felt, ‘The World is as Soft as Lace.’
I think Felt embodied everything I found so captivating about new wave music of the early eighties: they were cool, they were quirky, they were original, and like many of the best bands of the era they refused to compromise in order to achieve commercial success. But they did produce some memorable music and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all that matters.
In 1979 Birmingham teenager Lawrence decided, in the spirit of the punk belief that when it came to music ‘anyone could do it,’ to bring out his own DIY single under the name Felt. Index is a pretty atonal affair that sold just a handful of copies at the time, though these days it’s something of a collector’s item and a copy will set you back the thick end of five hundred quid.
Encouraged by his first effort Lawrence set about turning Felt into a ‘proper’ band the following year, first as a trio, then as a four piece. By the time they signed to Cherry Red in 1981 the line up was as follows:
Lawrence: vocals, guitar
Maurice Deebank: lead guitar
Nick Gilbert: bass
Gary Ainge: drums
Felt always had a sound of their own, partly due to Deebank’s distinctive guitar work, partly due to Lawrence’s unusual vocal style and his insistence that the drummer could not use cymbals. Whilst at Cherry Red they put out several singles and a couple of mini-albums which were well-received in indie circles without troubling the mainstream.
Maurice Deebank left Felt in 1985 and though the band’s sound changed as a result, featuring keyboards more prominently, the overall quality of the music did not diminish. Felt signed to Creation Records in 1986 and finally split in 1989.
The World is as Soft as Lace was the B-side to the 1984 single Mexican Bandits. It’s one of my favourite Felt tracks and I think it gives a fair inkling of what they were all about.
Click on the Dansette to listen to
The World is as Soft as Lace