Tag Archives: the soup dragons

THE SOUP DRAGONS: Hang-Ten! E.P. (12″, Raw TV Products RTV 121, 1986)

People often bang on about the fashion/style wasteland of the 1970s, but I’d suggest that the mid-to-late 1980s were in fact one of the darkest times in Britain’s sartorial history. I remember, as a naive teenager, sporting the horrific combination of a pair of sand-coloured chinos*, a striped shirt and a reversible bomber jacket with one orange and one black side. This was beautifully topped off by some over-gelled hair, approximating some kind of Nick Kamen ‘do, but gone horrifically wrong.

And here, on the sleeve photograph of what is actually a rather good record, we see The Soup Dragons combining some utterly bizarre and misguided stylistic decisions, that could only have come out of this time in history. To wit:

  • Paisley shirt/tartan tie/braces/tartan trousers combination
  • Christmas-present-from-Auntie patterned sweater, worn underneath patterned cardigan
  • Shirts tucked into jeans, Jerry Seinfeld-style
  • The holding of a Slinky by one band member: what is this supposed to mean? Is it wacky? Is it kooky?
  • The clock is set at a quarter past ten. Why is this? The record’s name is ‘Hang-Ten!’ – not ‘Hang-Ten-Fifteen!’ or ‘Hang-Fifteen!’
  • The expressions on the band members’ faces: in all but one instance, look deep into these faces and you’ll see boredom, uncomfortableness and a strange feeling of arrogant dumbness.

But still! I do like The Soup Dragons even if, as previously mentioned on here, their entire career seemed to hang onto the coat-tails of Primal Scream, and even though they have wrapped this release in such a ridiculous photograph. We’ve all done silly things in our past, and we’ve all worn silly clothes. The Soup Dragons at least redressed the balance with some excellent sleeve artwork that would come out after this release. And not least because they seemed to quickly decide against putting themselves on their covers…

*As an aside: ‘chinos’? Where did this bizarre, ridiculous name for a style of preppy, boring trouser actually come from? According to Wikipedia, the word refers to the type of cloth. But I’m not sure I buy that – the word seems forever tied to a light sand coloured loose-fitting trouser that painfully encapsulates the entire concept of ‘smart casual’.

THE SOUP DRAGONS: The Sun Is In The Sky E.P. (7″, Subway SUBWAY 2, 1986)

The Soup Dragons - The Sun Is In The Sky E.P.

A confession; I’m not so cool that I bought this record when it first came out – I was only thirteen years old at the time and, in fact, listening more to Rick Astley and Debbie Gibson. So maybe I’m even cooler than cool. Or something. As I got into indie-pop throughout the late eighties and early nineties, this record very quickly became something of a holy grail for me – back in those pre-eBay, record-shop-scouring days, some records were genuinely hard to get your hands on. This one had the dual attractions of being the first Soup Dragons record and a very early Subway release. Double indie-pop gold. I can’t actually remember where I finally tracked down this copy, but I have a feeling it was during one of many record shopping trips to Birmingham; excitedly handing over the £15 or whatever it cost as a ‘valuable’ (eee, that was a lot of cash back then) and mentally ticking off one more indie-pop aim in my mind.

I really like the look of these old records – bold, multi-colour printing that eschews full CMYK for a simpler two- or three-colour process that allows for some marvellous overprinting (be in accidental or not). This style of printing, combined with the Letraset-esque lettering and reuse of clipped-out imagery from any number of 1960s/1970s annuals or magazines, is totally evocative of the whole fanzine/indie-pop scene. The Soup Dragons were right there at the start, really, appearing on C86 along with Primal Scream and many others. I mention Primal Scream as they seemed to always be a step ahead – moving from indie-pop into their hard rock phase, then their neo-psychedelic-blissout phase, closely followed by the Soupies. I don’t know if the latter band were copying, or just drawing on similar influences and experiences that were around at the time. Perhaps there’s something to find out there.