Turning his back on pop stardom as a solo performer, Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy dropped the ‘Tin Tin’ part of his name (after legal action by lawyers representing Tin Tin creator Hergé) and formed the Lilac Time with his brother, Nick, in 1987.
Purposely low profile, the group’s debut, The Lilac Time, was released by the tiny Birmingham label, Swordfish. The other group members were Michael Giri (bass) and Micky Harris (drums).
The subtle blend of pop harmonies and folk instrumentation was well-received and Phonogram signed the band and re-released their debut. Paradise Circus (1989) was more commercial with pop gems like The Girl Who Waves at Trains.
And Love For All (1990) – produced jointly by Duffy, Andy Partridge of XTC and John Leckie – was more introspective and despite strong efforts by Phonogram, the group failed to score a hit in the singles chart, mainly because of a general unwillingness to forget Duffy’s rather twee past as a pop idol.
In 1991, the group signed with independent label Creation and released Astronauts. In the week of its release, it was announced that the group had split and that Duffy would revert once again to solo status.