Skip to content

Department S \ Sub-Stance [LTMCD 2349]

Formed from the ashes of London band Guns For Hire, Department S released three abrasive pop singles during 1980 and 1981, including Going Left-Right, I Want and Is Vic There?, the latter reaching #22 on the UK national singles chart in April 1981, earning the band several appearances on Top of the Pops and a Smash Hits cover!

Despite this flirtation with mainstream success, and a busy live schedule, an impressive debut album titled Sub-Stance (produced by Parallel Lines engineer David Tickle) went unreleased after the band fragmented. On this remastered CD the 12 tracks from the lost album are augmented by singles and b-sides, along with five powerful live tracks recorded at a club date in December 1981.

Original album artwork and detailed liner notes.


1. Of All the Lost Followers
2. Just Pretend
3. Romany Blood
4. I Want
5. Fighting Irish
6. Is Vic There?
7. Going Left-Right
8. Age Concern
9. Somewhere Between Heaven and Tesco's
10. Whatever Happened to the Blues
11. Ode to Koln
12. Clap Now
13. Is Vic There? (live)
14. 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)

Available on CD and digital (MP3 or FLAC). To order CD please first select correct shipping option (UK, Europe or Rest of World) and then click on Add To Cart button below cover image. Digital copies are delivered to customers by link sent via email.

Sub-Stance [LTMCD 2349]
CD shipping options
MP3 options
FLAC options


"With so many bright new hopes openly worshipping at the altar of scratchy, early 80s UK punk-funk (PiL, Gang of Four), it now seems doubly outrageous that Department S were denied the album release of this like-minded debut at the time. Vaughn Toulouse would savour the overdue recognition this should grant him" (Uncut, 04/2003)

"A band full of energy and attitude, with a lead guitarist - Mike Herbage - of considerable ability" (Record Collector, 03/2003)

"An excellent anthology that should go a long way towards re-establishing Department S as every bit the legend they once threatened to be" (Goldmine, 05/2003)

"Vic still sounds as potent and smart as ever, led by Mike Herbage's scorching guitar, mysterioso keyboards and Vaughn Toulouse's charismatic baritone. It's as impressive an introduction as any band could wish for, but it's by no means the whole story, as Sub-Stance proves. By the time they got to record the album they were a powerhouse, and it's hard to see why the follow-up singles failed. Indeed Ode to Cologne, the strident opener Of All the Lost Followers and the band's under-exposed secret weapon Clap Now are the equal of any of the singles. Sub-Stance is a more than welcome release that should ensure Toulouse and co's work gains at least posthumous attention. However belated, respect is unquestionably due here" (Whisperin' & Hollerin', 01/2003)

"This is a skeleton worth retrieving from the cupboard. They successfully negotiated the usual morose routes by developing a knack for expediency and aggression, and the five live recordings even surpass the originals in some cases" (Leonard's Lair, 01/2003)

"Their stay was too short but the results were definitely sweet. The killer live tracks show just how good these guys really were" (Mohair Sweets, 03/2003)