Possibly one of the greatest bands that never were, Birmingham's Felt still receive devoted praise from critics and their erstwhile fans alike. Formed in 1980 under the leadership of Lawrence Hayward, Felt's first offering, "Index" was a solo Lawrence effort, recorded in his bedroom on a four-track. The band formed proper with the recruitment of Nick Gilbert, Tony Race and Maurice Deebank. They signed to the Cherry Red label in 1982 and released the mini-LP "Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty". They soon came to the attention of the music press for the delicate songwriting and for Deebank's unique guitar playing, mixing classical and modern influences into their work. Another mini-LP followed in 1983, "The Splendour of Fear" and Race left to be replaced by Gary Ainge. Gilbert also departed and was replaced by Mick Lloyd. 1984 saw the release of "The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Stories", continuing their wayward journies into uncommercial but critically acclaimed landscapes (not to mention bizarre album titles). For the next album, 1985's "Ignite the Seven Cannons", they had recruited keyboardist Martin Duffy, adding organ sounds to the mix. By this time they had come to the attention of The Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie, who produced the album. This was not altogether surprising, given that Deebank's guitar playing was on occasion very similar to Guthrie's.Cocteau vocalist Liz Fraser added her incredible voice to the "Primitive Painters" single, which topped the independent singles chart but failed to make any impact on a wider public. In the same year, Felt's contract with Cherry Red expired and rather than go with label owner Mike Alway to Warner subsidiary Blanco Y Negro (home of the Jesus and Mary Chain), Felt signed to Creation. The first album, "Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death" had many puzzled by its ridiculous title. Equally, there were strong rumours in the press that Lawrence had some rather bizarre behaviour traits - he was obsessively clean and meticulously tidy. Visitors to his house would have to obey strict rules of hygiene.
In spite of his personal foibles, Lawrence and the rest of the band put out further releases, at the rate of approximately one per year - "Forever Breathes the Lonely Word" (1986), "Poem of the River" (1987), "The Pictorial Jackson Review" (1988) and the Duffy-written instrumental "Train Above the City" (1988). This was to be their last release on Creation. Lawrence believed that McGee had become disinterested in the band, which he had to a degree. 1988 was the year of Acid House and McGee's mind was on other things at that point. Felt took their final set of recordings to the El label and released "Me and a Monkey On the Moon". Bored with the band himself by this point, Lawrence called it a day, realising that he had released 10 singles and 10 albums in 10 years, it made a fitting end to his extraordinarily ordered existence. He went on to form Denim and, by all accounts, relaxed his obsessonal behaviour. Duffy joined Primal Scream just at the point where the band were taking off. Still with the Primals to date, Duffy has enjoyed considerably greater success that Lawrence post-Felt. Nevertheless, the band have left an indelible mark on an era which they helped to define.