Just as last week’s lot (Pop Will Eat Itself) did a great job in reinventing themselves, so too did The Soup Dragons.

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!!


4 thoughts on “NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 45 of 48)

  1. I liked the Soup Dragons okay, but never saw any potential stardom. I happened to see them at Dingwalls in London in 87-88 or so, when they were being largely slagged off as Buzzcocks imitators. The band even smiled a bit when, during a long pause in the show to fix a faulty amplifier, the crowd began to shout “Something’s Gone Wrong Again!” Later on in the same trip I met a Scottish girl (in Salzburg, of all places) and asked if she liked them, thinking the band were very popular. She said “Soup Dragons? D’ye mean the wee beasties?” That’s when I learned they were named after a children’s show (and she had never heard of the band). By the time I next saw them, in love beads and Sgt. Pepper surplus for the “I’m Free” video, I knew it was all over. Still like the early stuff, as we 52 year old geezers often say…

  2. Head Gone Astray and Can’t Take No More was as good as it got for me. Thought I’m Free was an abomination and still do. Whole Wide World was a decent little single though, all fast and fuzzy like all good indie was at the time.

  3. Hang-Ten was always my favourite of theirs, too. I’d forgotten about just how much criticism they got for their supposed Buzzcocks fixation until I read JTFL’s comment. Then they later got flak for trying to sound like more contemporary Manchester bands.The lad on the sleeve of this single bore an uncanny resemblance to a fellow student radio presenter – I remember photocopying and enlarging said sleeve to create something suitably witty to put up in the studio. He did see the funny side thankfully.

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