Can you remember your first album? You played it endlessly often to the annoyance of all around you. I got my first album as a present when I was 8 years old. I remember the first chords of ‘Can’t Explain’ as if it were yesterday. The sound of Pete Townsend thrashing the guitar backed by a towering bass line and mad but sensational drumming. I was never that fussed about the singer but hey three out of four isn’t bad. The album was ‘Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy’ by the Who. It was a compilation of their sixties hits with such classics as ‘My Generation’, ‘I Can See For Miles’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘The Seeker’ to name but a few. It was quite simply seismic. I wondered what they were so angry about but loved it. The music sounded at times as if it was struggling to get out of a box, fighting and spitting at times. Beneath it however was some exquisite melodies with class a mile wide running through it. Every musical choice I have made started with that album. I have an extensive collection covering many genres but you always remember your first time don’t you?
To the point however. I had the privilege to see Dodgy recently in concert at the Duchess in York. I took my 15 year old to his first proper gig. I have never seen them live before but have been a big fan since their early days. They were needless to say fabulous and played their new album ‘Stand Upright in a Cool Place’ in full. The second part of the gig revisited some of their classics such as ‘Staying out for the Summer’, ‘Making the Most Of ‘ from the ‘Homegrown’ album and ‘In A Room’ and ‘Good Enough’ from ‘Free Peace Sweet’. I mention these tracks second because a remarkable thing hit me. I read recently on twitter that contributor described ‘In A Room’ like Crosby Stills And Nash with Keith Moon on Drums. In subsequent listenings I have come to the belief that Free Peace Sweet captured that vibrancy and edge of the early Who. Mathew Priests drums do indeed have a Keith Moon resonance which in my books is serious praise indeed. Andy’s guitar has that sharp edgy power of Townsend whilst Nigel’s bass playing towers Entwistle-esque. The vocals are flawless and the harmonies hark back to the Hollies at their finest.
Now I’m am sure that I am not the first person to spot this, but it hit me like a meteor. Why have I always loved Free Peace Sweet so much? Answer the Who. Why do I consider ‘In A Room’ to be one of the best pop singles ever written, because it reminds me of The Who at their best.
I am not suggesting that Dodgy are not original; more that they have all the qualities of the old masters. Indeed from hearing the new album, I feel they are moving into exciting pastures new but with still a nod to their majestic best. It is not a bad thing to sound like such an iconic group as The Who or The Kinks just as long as your music is original. Dodgy have always produced original,vibrant music but now as I see, with a definite nod to the sixties. Many bands nowadays produce very sixties sounding tracks that sound new and exciting. Belle and Sebastian, The Bees, The Pierces (the reincarnation of the Mamas and Papas vibe) all seem to acknowledge the sounds of the sixties.
I think if you listen to many bands, they can echo the very people I am sure turned them on to music in the first place. There is nothing wrong with this and it is not retrograde. The ultimate rule however is produce music that is good and exciting.
Please buy the new Dodgy album (Out January 2012) but have a good listen to their back catalogue. You will be in for a Free Peace Treat (sorry very corny)