Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, The Soup Dragons started their career as a Buzzcocks-esque pop punk band but became swept up in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s baggy, Manchester, and acid house scenes (at the time it really was just one big scene of bands, mostly from Europe, that mixed elements of dance music with rock ‘n’ roll). This new sound was in full affect on the band’s 1990 album Lovegod.
The record opens with an excellent, reggae infused, cover of The Rolling Stones’ “I’m Free” before diving into a collection of songs that ranges from slow and moody (“Softly”) to upbeat dance fests (“Backwards Dog”). The album’s best moments include the trippy trance of the title track, the joyous frolic of “Sweetmeat,” and the anthem “Mother Universe.”
Lovegod is an excellent example of what the pre-Nevermind alternative landscape was like. After The Stone Roses’ debut, the alternative scene became obsessed with bands from
Europe like The Charlatans UK, Jesus Jones, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, and The Farm (at least in the press and on 120 Minutes). A few of these bands even attained mainstream success (Jesus Jones and EMF). The Soup Dragons seemed to straddle that crossover line with minor hits like “I’m Free” and “Divine Thing” from Lovegod’s follow-up Hotwired but never gained the huge—albeit one-hit-wonder—success of Jesus Jones and EMF.
I first heard The Soup Dragons in 1990 when I saw the video for “I’m Free.” I loved the song and soon after got picked up Lovegod on cassette. At the time I was immersing myself in the likes of the Pixies, The Smiths, The Cure, and aforementioned groups like Jesus Jones and The Charlatans UK. Lovegod spent a great deal of time in my cassette deck during my sophomore year of high school. At the time the record was part of the new world that I had entered and dying to learn more about but listening to Lovegod now, while I still enjoy it a lot I wonder if it will make any sense to those who weren’t there at the time. There are some bands and albums that transcend times and scenes and some that help define them. I suspect that The Soup Dragons and Lovegod are probably part of the later.