I know…..it’s an absolute bummer to find it’s me and not SWC on duty today. I thought I’d take a leaf out of his book and regale you with a tale from my life.

It’s August 1991. I’m outside a football stadium in Glasgow on a Tuesday night gearing up to watch Raith Rovers take on the might of Celtic in a cup-tie. My best mate is a centre-half for Raith Rovers but he’s a product of the youth development at Celtic and he’s still friendly with a number of the opposition players. It’s a game he’s been looking forward to since the draw had taken place two weeks previously. As usual, there’s a complimentary ticket (referred to as a ‘comp’) waiting for me, but it’s been left by one of the other players and not my mate which seems strange.

I make my way in and as I look around to take in the scene, I spot my mate sitting in a separate area of the stand, somewhere that I can’t access from where I’m sitting. Nowadays, it would be a case of texting/phoning, but remember this was 1991 when mobile phones were anything but. I start waving frantically to get his attention, and after a number of minutes he signals that he’ll make his way over to where I’m sitting.

‘I’ve been dropped’, he tells me. First time in his career and he looks devastated. It turns out he’s one of four changes to the normal team as the manager tries to catch Celtic on the hop by playing a number of younger players. I’m really upset for my mate and I’m tempted just to head home instead of watching the game – it’s the night before Rachel’s birthday and we have a lovely day planned for the Wednesday, and I’m thinking I could get extra brownie points by coming back unexpectedly. My mate talks me out of it by saying he’d appreciate it if we could go for a post-match beer when he can reflect a bit on what’s happened to him as well as giving us an opportunity to dissect the game.

I re-take my seat in the stand and he goes back to where the club officials are sitting. I notice that I’m surrounded by a lot of unfamiliar faces and it hits me that the remaining comps are most likely in the hands of the family and friends of the incoming players as well as those who don’t come along to the run-of-the-mill matches.

Much to my disbelief, the manager’s tactics work out well as Rovers get the opening goal, which is cancelled out just before half-time. As the second-half progresses, Celtic see a lot of the ball but get no end product. Rovers fashion a great chance but the young, inexperienced centre-forward makes a mess of it. Almost immediately, Celtic score to take the lead and within a couple more minutes grab another to take a 3-1 lead. My frustrations boil over and I let rip with a volley of abuse at our centre-forward for his earlier ineptitude. As I do so, two folk sitting directly in front of me, what looks like a mother and teenage daughter, get up and leave.

I meet up with my mate outside the main entrance and we get in his car to take the drive into the city centre. I’m still wired from the disappointment and I tell him that I’d lost it when we had gone 3-1 down, taking it out on the player who had missed the sitter. When he tells me that the young boy had nearly been devastated in the dressing room after the match, I feel a lot of guilt, shame and remorse. It was senseless behaviour on my part.

The next night, which remember is Rachel’s birthday, I get home around midnight to find a message on the answering machine from my mate asking me to give him a bell, no matter how late. I decide that midnight is just too late….

I’m wakened up by the phone ringing at 7am the following morning. It’s my mate. I’m expecting him to ask how my day away with Rachel had gone, but instead, he unleashes a volley of abuse. He’d gone to training and he’d heard the manager say to the players present that he was unhappy that someone who was sitting in the area where the comps had been allocated had been overly abusive, to the extent that one of the players mum and sister had to leave early, in tears, as the abuse was unacceptable.

My mate didn’t throw me under the bus in front of his team-mates, but he didn’t miss me with this phone call. Let’s just say that I was rightly chastised…..and I can say, in all honesty, that I have never at any point over the past 29 years, ever singled out an individual player for stick at a football match. Well, when I say ‘never’, what I mean is I don’t scream and yell at anyone at the top of my voice – you just never know whose mum might be sitting close by….

All of which brings me to the latest piece of vinyl in Badger’s Box, a single dating from not too long before my rant:-

mp3: The Soup Dragons – Mother Universe (12″)

The original version of the song was released as a 45 in March 1990 but, like every other single by The Soup Dragons, it proved to be a flop. A few months later, and their cover of I’m Free was given the indie-dance treatment. As I said when I looked at the charts of July 1990, those of us up here in the Glasgow area who had watched The Soup Dragons be part of the twee, occasionally shambolic but always guitar-based Bellshill scene (along with the likes of BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub) were stunned, bemused and delighted to see the band take the singles charts by storm by hitching their wagon to the Madchester sound.

A remixed version of Mother Universe was issued as the follow-up to I’m Free in October 1990. It should rightly have featured in the recent post looking at that month’s new entries, but knowing I had been asked to write about it as part of this particular series, I left it well be.

I think Mother Universe is a great song…far superior to the better-known I’m Free. I actually have a copy of the 12″, but it’s quite different from the one in Badger’s Box. His has a white sleeve, with two live tracks on the b-side:-

mp3: The Soup Dragons – Dream-E-4-Ever (live)
mp3: The Soup Dragons – Softly (live)

There’s at least three other 12″ versions kicking around with different b-sides or versions. The one I have has a black sleeve and comes with a poster, with one track on either side of the vinyl:-

mp3: The Soup Dragons – Mother Universe (dub version)
mp3: The Soup Dragons – Mother Universe (Original ’89 version)

It proved to be the last time The Soup Dragons enjoyed any commercial success in the UK although Divine Thing would give them a hit in the USA in 1992. Lead singer, Sean Dickson, continues to make excellent electronic and dance records under than name of HiFi Sean. Here’s a collaboration of his from 2017. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, there really is no hope for you.


30, 20, 10 (Part 3)

The latest installment in the monthly series looking back at the songs which were #1 in the indie charts on the first day of the month 30, 20 and 10 years ago.

Thus far, it has shown decent enough stuff (for the most part) in 87 and 07 while demonstrating that 97 was a year in which the major labels took dross to the top of the indie charts thanks to the exploitation of a loophole around distribution.  R. Kelly and The Rembrandts cannot, by any definition, be classed as ‘indie’.  Third time lucky perhaps?

1 July 1987 : mp3 : The Soup Dragons – Can’t Take No More

The band’s fifth release and their first, and indeed only 45, to take the top spot in this chart. It was probably helped a bit by the fact it was released in three different vinyl formats – 7″, 12″ and a live 12″ , the latter which included a rather appalling version of Purple Haze.  It’s all a long way removed from the baggy/dance stuff that took them into the proper charts a couple of years down the line.

1 July 1997 : mp3 : Blur : On Your Own

Food Records by this time were completely owned by EMI and so Blur were only eligible for the chart via that loophole referred to above.  It’s actually one of my favourite tracks of theirs from that era – it’s since been said by Damon Albarn that it was one of the first tunes he wrote with Gorillaz in mind. It climbed as high as #5 in the UK singles chart, again helped by the fact that it was released on 7″ vinyl and well as 2xCD singles with a number of b-sided that had all been recorded live at John Peel‘s home studio at Peel Acres and broadcast on his show on  8 May 1997. Here’s some bonuses for you to celebrate this series featuring that very set:-

mp3 : Blur – Popscene (live at Peel Acres)
mp3 : Blur – Song 2 (live at Peel Acres)
mp3 : Blur – Chinese Bombs (live at Peel Acres)
mp3 : Blur – Movin’ On (live at Peel Acres)
mp3 : Blur – M.O.R. (live at Peel Acres)
mp3 : Blur – On Your Own (live at Peel Acres)

And now, especially for those of you who like the electronic sort of stuff:-

mp3 : Blur – On Your Own (Walter Wall Mix)

It’s a 15 minute remix courtesy of William Orbit.

1 July 2007 : mp3 : Jack Penate – Torn On The Platform

I was working in Canada ten years ago and hearing this makes me glad of that. This is my first exposure to this particular singer/songwriter.

He was on XL Recordings which that same year also released albums by Radiohead and M.I.A. I’m guessing it was the late teens/festival goers who took him to the top of this chart and to #7 in the UK singles chart. Wiki tells me he was popular in 2006/07 but his second LP in 2009 sort of sunk without trace. His fifteen minutes of fame had come and gone.



Sorry if the headline and image has got you thinking this has something to do with Trainspotting. It is merely the ramblings of a man who. not long ago, was at death’s door being saved only by the love of his best friend and his best friend’s daughter as theu bring him records obtained from a charity shop. Over to you Badger…..

The Charity Shop (Record) Challenge – Part Two

The second brightly wrapped parcel has balloons on it. SWC’s daughter helps me unwrap it and she tells me a story about a balloon and squeezes of my leg (“because when I’m poorly Daddy tells me a story and gives me a cuddle”). This balloon travels up in the air and doesn’t stop until it reaches the moon when it gets there it is befriended by a lion who plays it with but pops it with his claws. This makes the lion sad, so sad that he has to do a poo (cue mad child laughter). I’ve repeated that word for word.

She’s four (just) and already tells better stories and more believable ones than her daddy.

The record has a silver grey sleeve and this is deeply unimpressive to the little girl. She wants to open up the third one which has lions and bears on the paper, I imagine these were the inspiration for the story that I’ve just repeated. She opens it and that one is a blue record which she tells me is ‘Mummys favourite colour – she should have that one’ she tells me, after listening to it I have to agree because its terrible.

Anyway back to the second one. This one for those of you who have been trying to guess is ‘Crotch Deep Trash’ by The Soup Dragons and is as Charity Chic would say ‘A real find’.

Record 2 – Crotch Deep Trash (extended version) – The Soup Dragons – Price £1.99


I’ve spent a lot of time in charity shops and I have never seen anything by the Soup Dragons ever, I now own four 12”s by the Soup Dragons, all of them have been given to me, all of them have come from charity shops. Seriously. (The others are Backwards Dog, Mother Universe and I’m Free (remix)).

Now cast your eye at the title it clearly states that this is an ‘extended version’ – this is saying something as the record is pretty done and dusted in three minutes. I’m not sure by how much they extended this but it wasn’t by much. Regardless of this, its an excellent record, all shouty vocals, screechy guitars and pounding drums, it sounds a lot of like ‘Automatic’ era Jesus and Mary Chain and that folks is a very good thing.

Backwards Dog – This is also very good. Apologies for the recording quality of both though.

mp3 : Soup Dragons – Crotch Deep Trash
mp3 : Soup Dragons – Backwards Dog

Unlike Record 3 which is Why Can’t I Be You? (12” Version) by The Cure – Price £2.50

Now before you all jump up and down on my injured bollocks and expel me for ever from indie school for being rude about my elders, hear me out. I love this single. I own several Cure records and used to even have a big baggy black jumper called ‘Bob’ which I left in a pub in Leeds in 1993 and waited outside at 9am the next morning so that I could get it back. So I like the Cure.

However, why in the name of everything that is precious, they though that this 12” version would be acceptable is a complete mystery to me. Its utter bobbins, it removes all the good bits of the original and pads it out with effects and loops and soundclashes and it just sounds like Modern Romance have recorded it and not The Cure. The bastards. I would actually rather be back in hospital listening to Ron in the bed next to mine bang on about ‘Bloody Poles’ than listen to that again. Its eight minutes long as well.

The B-Side is called ‘A Japanese Dream’ and it’s a bit better but you know only just. If only because it goes on about monkeys and stuff.

mp3 : The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You (remix)
mp3 : The Cure – A Japanese Dream

(JC adds….Badger is spot on with his analysis of this. I once bought a second hand copy of this 12″ single solely with the intenion of posting ot on the blog. One play letter and that idea was ditched…..)

“Can we do one more” the little girl asks me, I agree, I’m enjoying myself, to be honest, SWC has even made me cup of tea and bought out some plates for the brownies, its nice to be around friendly people (and SWC). So we unwrap the fourth one which is back to the Peppa Pig paper “I only had three rolls of paper” he says. His daughter unwraps it and laughs at the sleeve. It’s the back of the sleeve she’s laughing at. “Bum” she says. She’s right. I’m looking at the backside of a female and a very smug looking Dave Gahan.

The fourth record is “Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode – Price £1.99

“That’s definitely worth more than that” SWC says. He’s probably right, I once sold a 12” of a Depeche Mode song on Ebay for about £35 – they are really collectible for some unfathomable reason.

Now, you can re read my bit about the Cure here if you like because the same rules apply about Depeche Mode. They’ve taken one of their better singles and remixed it for the single and in doing that bloody ruined it. Here folks we have

mp3: Depeche Mode : Personal Jesus “Holier Than Thou” Version.

The record and the remix seems a bit smug for some reason if you ask me, still let’s have a look at the B Sides….One of them is badly scratched so we will gloss over that one but here is the other one

mp3 : Depeche Mode : Personal Jesus (acoustic)

So it’s the same song again, sorry. Its slightly better than the remix version, but the quality is so bad it sounds like Gahan is whispering his way through it, which he probably is to be fair.

So that takes us up to record 4 – records 5 6 and 7 to follow.



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!!




From wiki:-

The Soup Dragons were a Scottish alternative rock band of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Named after a character in the 1970s children’s television show Clangers, the group is best known for its cover of the Rolling Stones’ song “I’m Free.”

The Soup Dragons formed in Bellshill, a town near Glasgow, in 1985. The line up was Sean Dickson (vocals, lead guitar), Jim McCulloch (guitar, second voice) who replaced Ian Whitehall and Sushil K. Dade (bass). The original drummer, Ross A. Sinclair, left the group after the first proper album, This Is Our Art, to pursue a career in art, and was replaced by Paul Quinn. Most of their songs were written by Dickson, while some were co-written with McCulloch.

The band recorded their first demo tape, You Have Some Too, after playing a few local gigs, and this was followed by a flexi disc single “If You Were the Only Girl in the World”.  Originally inspired by Buzzcocks and lumped in with the C86 movement, along with fellow members of the Bellshill Sound, such as the BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub, they went through a number of stylistic changes in their career.

The band signed to The Subway Organization in early 1986 and their first proper single (The Sun in the Sky EP) was Buzzcocks-inspired pop punk. The band’s big breakthrough came with their second single for Subway, “Whole Wide World”, which reached No. 2 on the UK Independent Chart in 1986.  Dickson and McCulloch also moonlighted in BMX Bandits at this time.

The band were signed by former Wham! co-manager Jaz Summers’ label Raw TV with further indie hits (and minor UK Singles Chart hits) following during 1987 and 1988. Over the course of six singles (the first three collected in 1986 on a U.S. only compilation, Hang Ten), they gradually developed a more complex rock guitar sound, which culminated in their first album proper This Is Our Art, now signed to major label Sire Records. After one single from the album “Kingdom Chairs” failed to chart, the band were dropped by Sire and returned to Raw TV.

In the year following This Is Our Art their sound underwent a change from an indie rock sound, to the rock-dance crossover baggy sound, popular at the time with the release of the album Lovegod. This change mirrored that of fellow Scottish band Primal Scream, and can be attributed to the rise of the ecstasy-fueled acid house rave scene in the UK. In 1990, they released their most successful hit single in the UK, “I’m Free”, an up-tempo cover of a Rolling Stones song with an added toasting overdub by reggae star Junior Reid, which reached number five. This single featured on the Happy Daze compilation and in 2013 it appeared on the soundtrack to British science fiction comedy film The World’s End.

Subsequent albums continued the rock-dance crossover sound. In 1992 they enjoyed their biggest U.S. hit with “Divine Thing” which reached number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also hit number three on the Modern Rock chart and its video was nominated by MTV as one of the year’s best, though beaten by Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.[6]

The Soup Dragons disbanded in 1995. Paul Quinn joined Teenage Fanclub and Sushil K. Dade formed the experimental post rock group Future Pilot A.K.A.. Sean Dickson formed The High Fidelity and currently deejays as HiFi Sean. Jim McCulloch joined Superstar, wrote and recorded music with Isobel Campbell, and formed the folk group Snowgoose.

I’ve a bundle of Soup Dragons 12″ singles in the collection, mostly picked up very cheaply in second hand stores.  The lead track from this 1986 release is a particular favourite:-

mp3 : Soup Dragons – Hang Ten
mp3 : Soup Dragons – Just Mind Your Step Girl
mp3 : Soup Dragons – Slow Things Down
mp3 : Soup Dragons – Man About Town With Chairs