Every big, successful band generates numerous shadow and clone bands. Sometimes one of the clones gets quite big and may even have a return influence on the original. This is basically The Soup Dragons near the end of their career, with their focal point being fellow Scottish dance rockers Primal Scream.

Close your eyes while listening to Hotwired, their 1992 penultimate album, and you might think you're listening to Bobby Gillespie and Co. on some of the outtakes from Screamadelica, which just came out the year before.

But look at the album cover - the Stars and Stripes peace sign - and you get a dose of the Americana that was to feature on the Screamers' 1994 Give Out But Don't Give Up, itself a skilful rehash of early 70s Rolling Stones,

All bands imitate someone, somewhere, with the key question being "how?" The difference here is that while the Soup Dragons were clearly treading on the heels of their models in band-wagon-jumping fashion, the Primal's evocation of the Stones on Give Out But Don't Give Up was clearly more in the spirit of a genuine homage, after two decades marinading in the original influence.

This difference is also a very good indication of why the Soup Dragons never really went anywhere after hitting their peak - charting at Number 7 in the UK with previous album Lovegod (1990).

Although technically good enough to have a shot at real success - check out the harmonica jam on "Running Wild" - the band clearly took their marching orders from the usual "trend spotting" suits that infested most record companies in the day.

In short the band lacked soul, core, heart, and character, like so many bands in the "Great Musical Die-off" of the early 90s, a cultural event that will probably show up in the Earth's rock strata, just like the extinction of the dinosaurs, in eons to come.

The album is pleasant enough to listen to, until, catching a lyric or two and listening to Dickson's irritating and affectatious voice, you realise you are listening to mainly dead music.

Colin Liddell
Revenge of Riff Raff
19th of August, 2018

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