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The Soup Dragons

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Biography

Before Scotland's Soup Dragons hit the mainstream with their reggae-infused cover of the Rolling Stones' "I'm Free," the Glasgow four-piece were poised to carry the torch first lit by the Buzzcocks and the Adverts. Formed in the mid-'80s around singer/guitarist — and eventual programmer — Sean Dickson, the band included guitarist Jim McCulloch, bassist Sushil Dade, and drummer Ross Sinclair. Their punk-pop debut, Hang-Ten!, consisted of two years worth of singles and EPs — the shorter Hang-Ten! EP arrived via Raw TV Products in 1986 — and was released in 1987 on Sire Records. Their direction changed completely on 1988's uneven but ambitious This Is Our Art, a schizophrenic collection of hard rock, funk, and harmony-laden pop that showcased the group's love of melody and willingness to experiment within the modern rock genre.

By 1990, the previously underground sounds of U.K. rave culture began to infiltrate and inform the alternative rock scene, resulting in the birth of the Madchester sound, a drugged-out fusion of acid house and rock that the Soup Dragons were more than willing to get on board with. Lovegod, their Big Life/Polygram debut, embraced the scene completely, marrying dub-heavy beats with synths and acoustic guitars, breathy vocals, and even a guest spot from Black Uhuru's Junior Reid. Hotwired, their follow-up record that included the worldwide chart-topping hit "Divine Thing," was released in 1992. Gone were the hypnotic swells and late-night cigarette lyrics that fueled their previous release, replaced here by tight, immaculately produced songs that were way more alternative dance and sunny Britpop than moody rave anthems.

By 1994, Dickson was the sole remaining member, relying on a bizarre array of session musicians from Bootsy Collins to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to help complete the funk, soul, rock, and hip-hop hybrid Hydrophonic. The record received mixed reviews, prompting Dickson to form a new group called High Fidelity, which released an EP in 1996 and a series of singles that led to the release of their first full-length LP, Demonstration, in 2002.

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