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We've been wondering about this as well. Here's a quote from Gary Ainge from the zine. It may not give the information wanted, but it's funny:
"The Versatile Newts - I've never heard them. Lawrence never gave me a copy. Talking of Nick Gilbert's Newts, ask him if I can have my Isley Brothers albums back. He's only had them for 30 years".
In the Record Collector article with Lawrence he had said The Versatile Newts were Nick Gilbert's band, with no mention of his own involvement.
The text in this thread's original post -- which seems to originate in the liner notes for the Messthetics compilation where the single was reissued -- clearly states that The Versatile Newts were Lawrence and Nick Gilbert.
The singer on the single (credited as "New Noise") sounds very much like Lawrence. So whoever wrote those liner notes seems to be well-informed.
Thought I'd resurrect this thread from the dead as Lawrence directly answered a question about this on Friday night. Nick Gilbert was his best friend at the time (they were "like brothers") and after Lawrence made Index, Nick said he wanted to do his own single as well. Lawrence told him to get off his **** and do one, and released it on Shanghai. He does not play or sing on the record itself (he said!), it was "nothing to do with him" other than releasing it.
Strange to think that it as Nick's record that got them the support slot with The Fall rather than anything Lawrence (or Maurice) wrote.
It was me who asked the question. PITW - if it is Nick Gilbert singing - the vocals sound uncannily like his old bandmate. Probably that was the vocal style the band thought they should operate.