Monday, 27 February 2012
100 LPs Shortlist #19: "Free Peace Sweet" by Dodgy
1995 - the height of the Oasis-dominated Britpop scene. It hardly rated a mention on commercial radio at the time, but it was huge on Triple J, the station that I was an avid listener of at the time.
At the time, I just didn't get it. I thought Oasis were mediocre and I couldn't understand why they were Britain's biggest band. I didn't get "Wonderwall" and I couldn't believe it was voted #1 on Triple J's Hottest 100 that year. I've since been told, by people who were living in England then that the song "captured the mood of the time". So what was the mood of the time? No-one seems to be able to tell me...
Fast forward to mid-1996, and a song came blasting out of the airwaves beginning with heavily strummed acoustic guitars, drum rolls that would make Keith Moon proud and rich vocal harmonies I hadn't heard since I sat at the foot of my parents record player listening to the Hollies. This was a track that captured the best elements (IMHO) of British pop of days gone by, and it was captivating. I fell in love with (Beatle-styled) pop music again.
The song was "In A Room" by Dodgy. A brit-pop band, a three-piece who had a sound that, as far as I was concerned, was far richer and more enthralling than Oasis' laddish pouting. It changed my view on songcraft - gone was my mentality that the riff was everything. There's far more that can be woven into a piece to make it more than the sum of its parts.
I ordered the album that featured "In A Room" on double vinyl. It was brilliant - the sound, the songs, the arrangements, the packaging. In retrospect, the music by some of the lesser-known Britpop bands, like Dodgy, Cast, The Bluetones, Supergrass, Gene, Ocean Colour Scene, and many others, has worn far better than "Definitely Maybe"...
...and yet, so unloved were Dodgy in Australia that, two whole years after I purchased that LP by special import order, the stock copy the store ordered at the same time was still on the shelf, reduced to $10. I bought that one too.
Here, for your listening pleasure, is "Free Peace Sweet", by Dodgy. Enjoy.