The band's debut album, Bellybutton, was released in 1990. It demonstrated the wide range of influences which the new band drew on, drawing heavily from the Paisley Underground, Queen, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, XTC, Cheap Trick, Wings, and Badfinger, Bellybutton was released in 1990. The album contained the band's biggest hit, "Baby's Coming Back", which peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album also included the singles "That Is Why", "I Wanna Stay Home", "Now She Knows She's Wrong" and "The King Is Half-Undressed" (the video for which was nominated for Best Art Direction at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards).
After the recording of Bellybutton, Manning's brother Chris was asked to join the band as bassist for the imminent live dates.
Frustrated with simply being the guitar player, Jason Falkner left the band after the Bellybutton tour. Chris Manning also left, disliking the touring lifestyle.
Sturmer and Roger Manning recruited Tim Smith as the new bassist while preparing new material. Studio musicians (including Jon Brion) were brought in to help record their second album, Spilt Milk in 1993. The album was a far more elaborate affair than Bellybutton, incorporating a significant amount of overdubbing and complex song arrangements. A tour followed which included Eric Dover on guitar and backing vocal duties.
The Ghost at Number One