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laf


The band was first formed in the mid 80s by Phil Matthews and Alastair Boden as a vehicle for their self-penned songs that were recorded in a small studio in Phil's house. Originally named Lost and Found (well it was the era of Hue and Cry, Tears For Fears et al) the pair released a ten track album titled Ten By Two which admittedly made them sound like a DIY store rather than a band, but it provided a blueprint for what was to come. Despite recording in a room that made the arial human assisted propulsion of even the smallest moggie difficult the decision was made to bring in a couple of extra musicians before starting work on the next batch of songs. Chris Charlesworth a classically trained keyboard player and chorister was given the job of adding the twiddly bits on the keyboard while Steve Shephard provided his skills both on guitar and bass. Bizarrely though everyone knew everyone else the four never all attended band sessions on the same nights. This was partially through practicality and partially availability. Chris came over on Sundays, Al Mondays and Steve Thursday or Friday. "I always preferred Monday, " recalls Phil. "Alastair worked in the same office as me and we'd go back to my place for a jacket potato (always jacket potato) before either working on new material or adding vocals to any works in progress. After that we would chill out watching Jeremy Paxman humilate another bunch of hapless students on University Challenge. The band, in truth, had never been averse to augmenting their sound with other performers when available, a fact borne out by the inclusion of Rod Doherty playing a ripping sax solo on Rebel Without a Cause on Ten By Two. Rod fulfilled a similar role on The Kissing Game later on, but first there was on album number 2 On My Own. The album was named after one of the songs on it and featured a cover that pastiched Let It Be by the Beatles - though you would be hard pressed to spot many other similarities with the Fab Four. Although Al had played a full part in writing the material he had gone "missing in action" at this stage, and it was an incredible chance that Phil's next door neighbour Stewart Ryan proved to have a voice to die for and handled most of the vocals this time out. It was round about this time that Phil started a major round of upgrading his recording gear - which in the early days had been crude to say the least, "I remember having to use a pair of Phil's wife at the times' old tights stretched over a metal coat hanger, " said Al, "at least he always insisted that they weren't his." No one in the entire band set-up would be more grateful than Alastair when Phil made the quantum leap to replacing the tights with a frying pan spit guard. A word of thanks has to be passed on here to Stew whose ability to adopt, adapt, and improve led to many studio innovations such as the recording rack crammed full of high tech effects units and processors that he built from an old drinks trolley. The second album featured the only vocals provided by anyone outside of the bands inner circle as Jeff Tracy took the lead on Thunderbirds Are Go - with help from his son Scott, along with Lady Penelope and Parker. By now the boys were starting to hit their stride and improvments in equipment meant a huge improvement in production values. Songs such as "Psyched Out" would have been impossible a year earlier. Everything seemed to peak at once during the making of the finest album to date A Walk In The Sun. Alongside a whole raft of sparkling tunes including the aforementioned Psyched Out was a suite of three songs based round the last day in the life of a group of World War One soldiers waiting for the order to go over the top for the final push. The three tracks were Sunrise, A Walk In The Sun and Sunset - although for some strange reason the running order on the original album does not place them next to each other. It was a further two years til the album that proved to be the last one to date "Blues For Kirsty." This time there was to be no central theme as the band presented, once more, a collection of individual songs though much of the progression from A Walk In The Sun was clearly apparant. Blues For Kirsty DOES feature the only lead vocal thus far from Philon the eerie and cinematicMystery Train. No sooner was Blues For Kirsty in the public domain than Phil and Al began work on what they hoped would be their magnum opus - a collection of songs that they hoped would show all that they had learnt about the craft of songwriting, the art of recording, and benefit from their ever improving performance skills. Almost a dozen songs had been written and recorded when along came one of those opportunities that you never foresee coming. A new record label called Escutcheon Records formed by a remarkable man by the name of Arthur Strand, who alongside a lengthy and impressive musical CV was also a qualified cricket umpire came a calling. Arthur was looking for artistes for his record label and LAF immediatly donanted three songs intended for their next album to become what was the first ever release on Escutcheon "Summer Rain." The album entitled LAF Presents was released in early 1995, before the Summer Rain e.p. which appeared towards the end of the year. It is at this stage that the LAF story stalls. Personal circumstances of the various memebers meant that the nucleus of the band drifted apart. Al and Phil still play together in a band for their own amusement but have elected to play covers rather than their own material. As a result a number of completed tracks have yet to see the light of day. A renewed enthusiasm for songwriting means that there are several new tunes in the pipeline - and with a number of quality tunes still stored away a revival is already in progress. Who knows what the future may bring?

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