Belgian post-punk band the Names formed in late 1977 as the Passengers, with drummer Mike S. Christophe den Tandt, guitarists Marc Deprez and Robert Franckson, vocalist Isabelle Hanrez, and bassist Michel Sordinia as the lineup. Franckson and Hanrez left by the beginning of 1978, and Sordinia subsequently took over on vocals.
After several gigs supporting the like-minded Magazine and Simple Minds, the Belgian wing of WEA became interested in the band and released the band's first single, 1979's "Spectators of Life," as a one-off. In a seemingly backward maneuver, the Names shopped their major-label single to a couple of their favorite independents with the hope of gaining a deal with either Factory or Fiction. Before they heard back from Fiction, the band struck a deal with Factory, home of Joy Division and Durutti Column.
Released in 1981, the excellent "Night Shift" single, produced by Martin Hannett, led to the band's association with the Factory-related Crepuscule, an independent based in Belgium. However, the one single with Factory proper had both good and bad effects -- good because the label affiliation drew immediate attention, and bad because they were unfairly compared to Joy Division.
Their debut LP, Swimming, was produced by Hannett and released in 1982 through Crepuscule. Finished within a week, the album fell through the cracks both critically and commercially. New drummer Luc Capelle sustained a major injury on his motorcycle soon after its release. Temporarily replaced by Michel Silverstein, the band limped through the recording of a final single. The band called it quits before it was released.
Four members of the band reunited with a new member in 1994; they recorded a full album as Jazz for the Pazz label. Swimming, as well as the Spectators of Life compilation, were issued on compact disc. ~ Andy Kellman