Back in August 2013, I pulled together a posting on Is Vic There?, the 1981 hit single for Department S.  I lavished all sorts of praise on it, but in describing the b-side, a cover of Solid Gold Easy Action that had been a hit for T.Rex back in 1972, as a ‘clunker’, I put forward the view that it was fair to assume that Department S. never did anything memorable beyond ‘Vic.’

I was taken to task by Crinan Dunbar, who offered the following view via the comments section:-

“Although ‘Is Vic There?’ is great, the later single ‘I Want’ is superior and worth a listen”

mp3: Department S – I Want

A complete flop which certainly deserved a better fate.   And is that a trumpet I hear getting played as the tune motors along at a frantic pace?  If so, over to you Jonny as you contemplate the next volume of a certain ICA.

I’ve tracked down the two b-sides which appeared on the 12″ release of I Want, and I think it’s fair to say that I was very wrong to say the band had done nothing memorable beyond one hit 45:-

mp3: Department S – Monte Carlo or Bust
mp3: Department S – Put All The Crosses In The Right Boxes

The second of these b-sides is ridiculously jaunty and upbeat, given that its subject matter is suicide.  Vaughan Toulouse‘s vocal delivery sounds like a cross between 70s era David Bowie and Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs.

Seems only right to finish things off today with another chance to hear the hit.

mp3: Department S – Is Vic There?

As I said back in 2013, this remains one of the most unique and catchy singles of the new wave era, It still sounds wonderful more than 40 years on.



  1. Hmm…sounds like a synth, not an actual horn. But surely ‘Going Left Right’ is the top Department S tune?

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