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Q-Tips

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Q-Tips

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The Q-Tips were the blue-eyed soul band that effectively launched the career of ‘80s balladeer Paul Young. Better known in England for their live performances and rigorous touring schedule than for their scant few recordings, the Q-Tips' bread and butter consisted of ‘60s soul covers (especially Motown), even though they did write competent original material in the same vein. The Q-Tips grew out of the ashes of a new wave group called the Streetband, which disbanded in late 1979 and featured singer/guitarist Young, guitarist John Gifford, and bassist Mick Pearl. This trio re-teamed in the Q-Tips, switching their focus to American soul and adding drummer Barry Watts, keyboardist Ian Kewley (formerly of Samson [not the metal band], Strider, and Limey), and a horn section composed of trumpeter Tony Hughes, saxophonist Steve Farr, and saxophonist/songwriter Stewart Blandmer. The group began a relentless touring schedule across the U.K., and soon issued their debut single, a cover of Joe Tex's "S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song)." Gifford departed not long after, and was replaced by guitarist Garth Watt-Roy. Having now caught the attention of Chrysalis Records, the band followed with their first major-label single, a cover of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears." Their self-titled debut album appeared in 1980, but didn't sell all that well, and Chrysalis soon dropped them. Signing to the smaller Rewind label, the Q-Tips next issued a cover of "Love Hurts," and followed it with the 1982 concert album Live at Last. By now, Young was drawing interest as a solo artist, and signed with CBS in 1982. That, coupled with the toll exacted by their grueling tour schedule, ensured that the Q-Tips disbanded that fall (but only after a lengthy farewell jaunt). Retaining Kewley as a songwriting partner, Young went on to stardom in the U.K., and topped the American charts in 1985 with "Every Time You Go Away." Meanwhile, several more archival live albums appeared under the Q-Tips name, including Come Back...Live and Live in Concert. Young briefly reunited the Q-Tips for a tour in 1993.

Biography entry by Steve Huey

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