The group's Velvet Underground-influenced alternative pop/rock first caught on in France, where they released both a self-titled album and self-titled EP 1985. The original lineup consisted of frontman/singer/saxophonist (and later guitarist) Parfitt, bassist John Saltwell, guitarists Alison Pate (also ex-Varicose Veins, Orange Disaster, and Architects Of Disaster) and Dan Cross, and drummer Malcolm Catto.
The band eventually secured a contract in the U.K. with Glass Records, and inaugurated the deal with the 1987 EP "Hey Hey Hey" (which was recorded with Catto's replacement, Martin Langshaw, on drums). It was followed later in the year by a re-release of the self-titled debut album (which was slightly re-sequenced, re-packaged with new art, and included an additional track culled from the French EP). The band capped what was a productive '87 with the "Bluebell" single, Saltwell's last recording with the group.
1988 saw the the band sign with London's Fire Records, welcome new bassist Josephine Wiggs, and release the "T.V. (Girl On Fire)" EP and 'Asylum Road' album. The LP, based on Parfitt's experiences working in a mental hospital, also gave the band their first U.S. exposure via a licensing deal with Los Angeles label Genius Records. Like '87, the year was again wrapped up with a single release ("Time To Kill") and more personnel changes as longstanding rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Pate departed.
As 'Asylum Road' was, 1989's 'Up' album (recorded as a quartet with the Parfitt/Cross/Wiggs core augmented by Langshaw and Phil 'Jack' Outram, who split the drumming duties) also received favorable reviews in the press. The "Mood Elevators E.P." came out as a between-albums stopgap in the latter part of the year (with Outram returning on drums).
For 1990's "Rise" single and 'Heaven Scent' album, the core trio were joined behind the kit by yet another new drummer, this time Jon Mattock, who was the last in a string of drummers for Glass and Fire labelmates Spacemen 3. Though 'Heaven Scent' garnered the band the cover of Sounds -- their first cover of a British weekly music paper -- the album proved to be their swan song.
As Wiggs had left the band after the recording of 'Heaven Scent' in order to work full-time with Kim Deal's Breeders, Parfitt and Cross drafted John Saltwell back into the fold to handle bass duties for the 'Heaven Scent' tour, but some time after it's conclusion, the group disbanded.
Wiggs continued her tenure with the Breeders and also formed Honey Tongue as a duo with Mattock. She later recorded with Ladies Who Lunch, The Josephine Wiggs Experience, and Dusty Trails. Parfitt went on to collaborate with Spiritualized frontman Jason Pierce (...also formerly of Spacemen 3) and started a new band, Psychotropic Vibration, with guitarist Kevin King, bassist Julian Nelson, and drummer Richard Geismar, which played a more post punk/dub/krautrock style. Psychotropic split around 1992 with Parfitt going on to form Oedipussy, in which he worked with ex-Levitation members Dave Francolini (drums), bassist Laurence O'Keefe (spelled "Okeef" in the credits for the 'Divan' album; also ex-Jazz Butcher) and Terry Bickers (guitar; also formerly of Colenso Parade and The House Of Love). Mattock has also since drummed in Spiritualized, Slipstream, Lupine Howl, and again with Wiggs in the Breeders.