The Soup Dragons’ Whole Wide World sounds like the result of a bunch of young guys having a see who can drink the most energy drinks competition – or maybe even a see who can drink the most cans of Dragon Soop competition – as they listen to a selection of classic Buzzcocks and Undertones singles, before rushing into a studio with the intention of making a ramshackle, rip-roaring teenage rampage of a record that will make anybody hearing it happy to be alive for its one and a half minute length.

Made by the band on a budget of around fifty quid according to singer Sean Dickson on his YouTube page, this is the video for Whole Wide World which went on to appear on British TV on The Chart Show.

The early Soup Dragons led a charmed existence. When the fledging band recorded a track called If You Were The Only Girl In The World Would You Take Me? I’m sure they had little idea the kind of reception that lay in store for it. If they did, then I congratulate them on their vivid imaginations.

Only conceived as one side of a flexi disc giveaway to be released through their bassist Sushil Dade’s Pure Popcorn fanzine (together with Talk Open by The Legend! on Jerry Thackray’s none too imaginatively titled fanzine The Legend!), it became an NME single of the week. John Peel picked up on the track and invited them down for a Radio One session, agreeing to pay their travel costs to London out his own pocket into the bargain as the band were too brassic to afford the fare down.

An invitation to contribute a track to the latest in a series of cassette tapes distributed by NME resulted in Pleasantly Surprised appearing on C86. And if Neil Taylor and his co-compilers ever imagined that this tape would end up giving a name to a genre of music then, again, I would congratulate them on their vivid imaginations.

Oh, and before I forget, the first ever live Soup Dragons show was also pretty special. They supported Primal Scream at one of the legendary Splash One ‘happenings’ at Daddy Warbuck’s in Glasgow. And if the Splash organisers ever imagined that a short documentary (The Outsiders) and a full length documentary (Teenage Superstars) that covered their club nights, would both later be shown on TV, well, you can guess my thoughts on the subject.

The music press adored The Soup Dragons.

And then the music press went off The Soup Dragons.

As did many indie fundamentalists, who felt betrayed when the band began to introduce a wider range of musical references into their sonic palette on tracks like Mother Universe. How dare they embrace samplers and a dance element?

Lovegod, their 1990 album, according to their press release anyway, was ‘Full of their love of rock ‘n’ Roll iconography. Full of Pain. Kinky Love. And dark metaphors delivered with swagger through a curled lip sneer.’ On its release, even more Soup Dragons badges around the country were unbuttoned from anoraks and thrown away in a tizzy, replaced by badges of more reliable acts, i.e. those with a suitably high score on the twee-o-meter and zero ambition to ever leave their indie garrets.

Sales began snowballing with the release of I’m Free, a Jagger/Richards composition that The Soup Dragons chose to cover after watching The Stones in the Park concert. Featuring some reggae toasting from Junior Reid, a gospel choir, dancey grooves and some slide guitar, this went top ten in Britain.

‘Early on we’d just bang the songs out, but we refuse to do that now,’ Dickson explained to Spin early in 1991. ‘When you start fucking about with songs, it’s really exciting. The whole concept of the Soup Dragons comes from a pop art background that’s defined by bastardizing thing. That’s where the whole idea of sampling comes from.’

The bastardizing continued on next album Hotwired, which again merged dance beats and rock. Divine Thing manges to sound more Stonesy than I’m Free. It’s maybe also a little Lovesexy (Dickson being a big Prince fan) and its chorus always struck me as a little T.Rexy.

A homage to Glenn Milstead AKA Divine, The Soup Dragons wanted John Waters to shoot the video but he otherwise engaged. Instead directing duties were taken on by Nick Egan, who was maybe best known at the time for directing Sonic Youth’s promo for Sugar Kane (and designing a couple of covers for Clash singles). From March 1992, here it is:

John Waters must have liked the song. As a thank you, he gave Sean an autographed can of hairspray, and just in case you’re wondering why, think of the title of Waters’ 1988 movie.