When we think of great bands of the 1960s we immediately think of the likes of The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who or The Rolling Stones.
Indeed if you ask anyone to name their Top Ten bands of the sixties those names would feature. Yet one is unlikely to make any list …. Precious Comfort Love Thrust.
If you mention that name to anyone who was around during that period you might witness a fleeting glimpse of recognition. Study them closer and you can almost see their brain do somersaults as it delves into the intoxicated haze of memories of that decade. The name sounds familiar but their mind fails to provide any further confirmation.
It is not uncommon for bands or singers to disappear from the public conscious. Yet even then they find a way back; whether it be because their song ends up in a soundtrack to a movie or one of your Facebook friends lists them in their Top Ten Bands Of All Time just to appear cultured. You know, those friends who listed the most obscure David Bowie song as their favourite, just so they can say they really understood Bowie like no-one else did.
“I’m telling you if you think Space Oddity is better than ‘Always Crashing In The Same Car’ then you don’t get Bowie….Not like I do”
Nowadays, the internet refuses to allow anyone to forget anything. YouTube will host poorly filmed concerts of some band nobody has heard of playing in front of just 25 people in a pub in Basingstoke. eBay will have listings of all manner of music memorabilia. Wikipedia seemingly just has a page for everything and everyone. Spotify and Amazon appear to offer every song ever written, although Alexa seems dead set on playing the version she wants.
No Alexa I did not want to listen to ‘Sound Of Silence (Disco Version) by Groovy Doug and the Kinkettes
Yet with all these digital tools at our disposal you won’t find any reference to Precious Comfort Love Thrust. The internet offers no support for those who are challenged when they put PCLT at the top of their list of best bands. It’s as if they never existed. But they certainly did.
And how can I be so sure? Because of one woman – Stef Clancy.
A few years ago a friend of mine who works in a care home asked for my help in clearing out the belongings of a long term resident who had passed away. That resident was Stef Clancy
My friend explained that this woman had been at the home long before she began working there. She rarely had visitors and it was believed she had no living relatives.
My friend struck up a close bond Stef whose best years were far behind her. During more lucid periods she would talk about all the places in the world she had visited; but most of the time she would incoherently slur orders at my friend such as ‘Find Loafers”
“The thing is” my friend would laugh “Stef didn’t even own a pair of loafers”
Nevertheless a friendship formed, so much so when Stef passed away at the age of 93 she left all her possessions to my friend. A note addressed to my friend was found in the top drawer of her dressing table. A simple instruction written in Stef’s shaky handwriting ‘It’s all yours’.
This is where I came in as the only one in close locality with a car she asked if I wouldn’t mind helping her clear out Stef’s room. Not that poor Stef owned much; a few items of clothing, some jewellery and a couple of books.
It was rather melancholic that this woman had lived through nine decades and yet the sum total of her life could fit in a cardboard box. And none of it gave any clue about who she was and the life she had led; nor where her love of loafers had come from and indeed why she did not possess any.
However, as I was searching under her bed I found a battered suitcase. The wood grain pattern was scored and faded , the remnants of stickers that had adorned the sides remained, too worn to make out what they were. The leather strap handle was frayed, crudely kept together by electrical tape. When I unlocked the rusted fasteners it was filled to the brim of papers.
“What do you want to do with these?” I asked my friend
“Best keep it just in case any family come out of the woodwork. It might be important” she replied.
“I thought there was no family or anything”
“There was this lady who used to visit her but ain’t seen her round here for a long time.”
So I took the suitcase back to my flat where it remained in a corner of my bedroom. Perhaps a long lost relative might finally claim them or my friend might wish to look through whatever was inside.
However, no one claimed to know Stef and my friend became the only source of companionship for a myriad of lonely elderly folk. Over time the suitcase became buried under a pile of clothes until it was very much out of sight, out of mind. Forgotten much like Precious Comfort Love Thrust.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and with it Lockdown. Out of sheer boredom one day I decided to tidy my room and that’s when I was reminded of the existence of the suitcase.
I messaged my friend to see if any family of the mysterious Stef Clancy. She responded that no-one had before quickly adding ‘if there are any deeds to a Castle in that suitcase remember she left it to me.’
There was no treasure to be found amongst the papers, well the sort of riches my friend was hoping for. The suitcase was full of artwork, photos, notebooks and album covers yet strangely without the vinyl in them.
All of them contained the same name :- Precious Comfort Love Thrust.
A quick Google search provided no results for this band but this stuff all looked real. I am no archaeologist but I can tell if a piece of paper is old. This was genuine stuff.
The notebooks contained the lyrics for songs written by Stef herself. Seemingly Stef was something of a lyricist perfectionist determined to have key words included in the song. On each page a list of words were written in the corner and crossed off as they appeared in a verse or chorus.
I searched everywhere I could to hear one of the songs written by Stef but each time it produced a negative result. Despite having no music to sing the lyrics along to there was a poetical quality to them. Stef had adopted her own stanza form. Each key word would be assigned a number and this would feature in exactly the same place in every song.
A further dive of the papers revealed Tour Schedules, release dates for albums and singles. There were photos of their concerts yet strangely they seemed more to concentrate on the audience than the band members themselves.
In respect of the members of Precious Comfort Love Thrust there was little about them. A few bios written for Pop magazines but not much else. No photos of the band except for one of them….Labia Lefeure, the lead singer. She seemed to adorn the cover of many of the albums. Once again a quick search on the internet produced no results.
Who was she? Who were they? I live during a time of Cancel Culture but what could this band have done to be simply erased completely?
For days I tried to find out anything about the band but never any positive results. My hopes of unravelling this mystery faded yet as I looked upon the album artwork and read Stef’s beautiful yet cryptic lyrics I decided I couldn’t keep this to myself.
I decided to set up a Twitter account for Precious Comfort Love Thrust so I could share these curiosities. Maybe someone in the big bad online universe could shed some light and help me unravel this mystery.
And if not at the very least ,to a small degree, I could try and return Precious Comfort Love Thrust back into the public consciousness. Because as I rifled through the mass of ageing papers I knew there was a story to tell.
It’s not my story. It’s the story of Stef, Labia, Dick, Vanda and Regis.
It’s the story of Precious Comfort Love Thrust – the band who never existed.