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Department S Album Reviews 3out of 5
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History tells us that 'Is Vic There?' was the highlight of Department S's career. A supposed one-hit wonder, the single found its way into the top 30 back in 1980 thanks to increased airplay for this hitherto underground hit. Not for the first time though, the commercial success killed the band. Faced with the pressure of a record company clamouring for more hits, the members soon split; deciding to do what in modern terms would be to 'keep it real' rather than sell out. Until now the album remained unreleased but the ever-exhaustive LTM Records have seen fit to issue the whole album with various bonus tracks. Although never quite being at the top of the game in their two main forms of music i.e. post-punk and new wave, this is a skeleton worth retrieving from the cupboard. In frontman Vaughn Toulouse they had a voice whose demeanour and monotone made him a charismatic figure. They successfully negotiated the usual morose routes by developing a knack for expediency and aggression. There's the white-funk of 'Fighting Irish' and singles 'I Want' and 'Going Left Right' matched 'Is Vic There?' for swagger and military precision. The five live recordings even surpass the originals in some cases, 'Clap Now' in particular packs a much bigger punch than the 'Sub-Stance' version. 'Tell Me About It' was their shot at a more commercial route and to be fair it does not compromise their earlier vigour at all. With B-sides of the calibre of 'Put All The Crosses In The Right Boxes' they make as competitive rivals for The Nightingales for lyrical bite and incisiveness. Happily, there's enough material here to rank them above the usual 'Where Are They Now?' status.
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  Track Listing
01 Of All The Lost Followers
02 Just Pretend
03 Romany Blood
04 I Want
05 Fighting Irish
06 Is Vic There?
07 Going Left Right
08 Age Concern
09 Somewhere Between Heaven And Tesco's
10 Whatever Happened To The Blues
11 Ode To Koln
12 Clap Now
13 Is Vic There? (Live)
Standout Track Going Left Right (Live)
15 I Want (Live)
16 Clap Now (Live)
17 Tell Me About It (Live)
18 She's Expecting You (B Side)
19 Monte Carlo Or Bust (B Side)
20 Put All The Crosses In The Right Boxes (B Side)
21 Solid Gold Easy Action (B Side)
22 Another Route Home (Demo)

Standout Track = Standout Track

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Also Recommended:
Blue Orchids, The - A Darker Bloom - The Blue Orchids Collection
Nightingales, The - Pissed & Potless - The Definitive Nightingales Collection, What's Not To Love?
Royal Family And The Poor, The - The Temple Of The 13th Tribe
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