Flopped But Not Forgotten: E17, Thunderbugs and Laurence Jeffcoate

Last night was the Popjustquiz @Concrete in East London, a pub quiz held by (purveyors of amazing pop music) Pop Justice.

One of the evening's conditions was that you brought along a shit CD to giveaway, and so I set about charity shop shopping in Fitzrovia on my lunch, avoiding Oxfam of course where the rackety second-hand CD trade will set you back £3.99 for a scratched Windows 97 PC game in a Marvin & Tamara box.

So, first of all, for my Popjustquiz teammate Johnny (who doesn't really get lunchbreaks) I picked up this copy of Steam by E17 for 99p, featuring the hit Stay Another Day:

The best bit about the Steam CD is this advert for E17 merchandise:

I predict E17 towelling robes are going to be a micro-trend come June (when the the premature-ejaculator British summer is well and truly over for another eleven and a half months).

Also. Check out this band member looking like a waiter from the cafe in Limehaus Chariots:

Whether there's a connection between the E17 album being called Steam and the inside cover artwork connoting a gay sauna is anyone's guess. As far I know none of the boys in E17 were gay, in fact, they might have been a bit homophobic even (?) I think their manager was gay...

Then I saw this CD called Tears In Heaven or something by a grinning boy called Laurence Jeffcoate, also going for 99p. I was attracted by its homemade look, the large expanse of grey wall, and the boy's painful smile:

A quick search on my phone informed me that Laurence was a runner-up in the TV talent show I'd Do Anything, and that Michael Jackson used to visit him backstage, then a few months later he retired from playing Oliver altogether. "I'd Do Anything" - "Michael Jackson" - "small rosy-cheeked boy" - "never heard of again": My instincts told me not to touch this CD.

If Laurence Jeffcoate is still alive he would only be 15 or 16 today, so let's hope that he is, and let's hope that we hear from him again one day, God bless.

Then, as if by MAGIC, whilst flicking vaguely through a geological layer of Peter Kay charity singles with a dust-smudged index finger, this appeared:

THUNDERBUGS - Friends Forever

Four women who look like they've been dragged out of the queue at LLoyd's Pharmacy, dressed in an assortment of tablecloths, pram-liners and Burberry garments that were later incinerated in the famous Burberry-look burnings of 2003. And even better, the song is called "Friends Forever". Out came the 99p, in came a new obsession.

Friends Forever reached number 5 in the UK charts in September 1999, no doubt thanks to a big pre-millenial PR push and a few Smash Hits song cards. Here it is:

And here it is on 12", for your hardcore Thunderbugs fans. Norman Cook probably owns this:

You still might be wondering who Thunderbugs actually are/were. We've all heard of Thunderbirds, and we're all fans of the Dylan B Jones favourite Thundacub. But Thunderbugs?

Turns out Thunderbugs were a 90s girl band with a twist - not only did they play all of their own instruments like The Corrs, but their lead singer had GLASSES, which is why she looks like Anastasia to a contemporary eye.

Following Friends Forever they released this not-very-good follow-up single It's About Time You Were Mine:

The song enjoyed a remix by Skeewiff, you know, that famous dance act, basically the Grum of 96.

Following the failure of It's About Time You Were Mine, the band's album Delicious was postponed and then finally only released on minidisc, which is perhaps more embarrassing than it being scrapped altogether (although rumour has it there were a few CD versions knocking about in continental Europe).

Here is a miserable low-res thumbnail of a different version of It's About Time You Were Mine, one of the few relics on the internet that prove Thunderbugs ever existed.

Following their break-up the lead singer Jane Vaughan (you know, with the glasses) went on to sing a song called "These Lips" for a Rimmel advert starring Lily Cole:

The girls were also used in an NSPCC charity campaign called Full Stop. Sadly the campaign wasn't a great one because nobody cared about anything that wasn't The Spice Girls. Here you can see three of the Thunderbug girls with the Duke of York (at least I think it's him?), presumably he's a fan:

And that's about it. So to whoever received my Thunderbugs CD at last night's Popjustquiz - I hope this blog post finds you safely and I hope that you treasure your new possesion. In return I received a Vaccines CD, which is pretty good according to Johnny. Will save it for the car come Mother's Day.

And you've done well to get this far through this blog post, so let's finish on a proper song:


  1. "pulled out of the queue at Lloyd's pharmacy" - it's just bang on. Genius

  2. Laurence was in fact a winner of 'I'd do anything', just to say. He also 'retired' from the show as you put it due to being too old for the role of Oliver.
    If he is 15 or 16 now, I'm sure he must be focusing on school, he would be about GCSE stage now I would think. I'm sure we will hear from him again once he is older and finished school, he has a lot of talent. I think you missed out by not buying his debut album ;)