Named after a character from a weird and wacky children’s animation show that was hugely popular in the UK in the 1970s, the band formed in Bellshill which is a former mining town some 15 miles south-east of Glasgow. The fact that such a small place – its population is a smite over 20,000 – also gave birth to Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits gives credence to those who claim that it is the epicentre of Scottish indie pop.
The original four members were Sean Dickson (vocals, lead guitar), Jim McCulloch (guitar, second voice), Sushil Dade (bass) and Ross Sinclair (drums) and after no more than a handful of gigs and a demo tape their blend of loud guitars and pop riffs landed them a deal with The Subway Organisation in 1986. Their debut EP, The Sun Is In The Sky, was the second ever release on the label and is quite hard to track down nowadays unlike the follow-up Whole Wide World which sold in really decent enough numbers for an independent label and was re-pressed on a number of occasions. It is that single which appears on CD 86:-
mp3 : The Soup Dragons – Whole Wide World
They were enticed over to the RAW TV label on which there were four more terrifically catchy indie-pop singles…I’m a particular fan of 1987 release Hang-Ten….with which they caught the attention of Seymour Stein and his crew at Sire Records for who they recorded debut album This Is Our Art in 1987.
However, after just one more single they found themselves back at Raw TV which by now was aligned with Big Life, a label which had aims and aspirations towards the big-time. By now, Ross Sinclair had left the band and there was a significant shift into the indie-dance sound that was becoming all the rage – the Soup Dragons new sound fitted right into Madchester and it was no surprise that come 1990, their take on I’m Free, a relatively unknown album track by the Rolling Stones, hit the Top 5 thanks in part to a guest vocal from label mate Junior Reid who had previously come to prominence as lead singer with the reggae band Black Uhuru.
They maintained that sort of sound for the remainder of their career before disbanding in 1995. They also enjoyed a major hit with Divine Thing in the US in 1992 although it was a relative flop here at home.
I always felt The Soup Dragons had it in them to be pop stars and in all truth they should have enjoyed better commercial success with the earlier singles before they made they hitched themselves to the baggy bandwagon. They were good fun when they started out and they still seemed to be enjoying themselves when they broke up ten years on.
Here’s the b-sides to the 12″ version of the single on CD86:-
mp3 : The Soup Dragons – Pleasantly Surprised
mp3 : The Soup Dragons – I Know Everything
Just three more bands to feature before I unveil the fresh idea for a new regular series for 2016!!