I think of the Soup Dragons as one of the highly favored bands of the 90FM DJs during the early nineties, but I’m not sure I’m correct about that. As I’ve written before, they were a fiarly unlikely band for me to champion at the time with their glammy, danceable grooves standing in marked contrast with the one-foot-in-the-gutter rough-hewn guitar rock that I favored. The Soup Dragons sounded like they knew what they were doing in a recording studio, understood how to get the most out of the technology at their control. They didn’t sound overly manufactured, but there was definite glossiness to their records. Looking back, there were plenty of bands that could be described the same way that I absolutely adored, but I probably never would have listed the kind of attributes found on those records as something I was seeking when listening to new music.
The Soup Dragons always held some unnameable appeal for me, though. I regularly played tracks from the earlier albums that predated my appearance at the station, and when I first had the opportunity to play one of their albums from the new music rotation (which always afforded the bliss of constantly revisiting the same great record while simultaneously honoring the station’s full-on commitment to new music), I grabbed a hold of it. It was a regular part of my playlists the whole time it tracked through rotation, from heavy to medium to light, all the way down to the bottom shelf of the most frayed and worn new releases that we dubbed NMS, an acronym that I can no longer say with authority what it stood for. Once it moved to the main library, I revisited it as much as was prudent, occasionally even a little more than that.
So I was really primed when the Scottish band’s follow-up arrived two years later. I think of Hotwired as an enormous success, the sort of late spring effort (it was released in April of 1992) that was prominent of the station through the summer, fueled by the sort of attention-getting, pulse-racing singles that were made to coax car windows down to let in the sun and wind. Or maybe just to lead off mix tapes. Regardless, I think of those songs as being everywhere for us through that year, blasting at parties and sparking across the airwaves at nearly every last DJ’s behest. Maybe that was the case (the lead single, “Divine Thing,” made it to #3 on the Billboard Modern Rock Singles chart and must have had similar success on the CMJ equivalent), but it could be that my memory is playing tricks with me.
Then again, maybe not. When I hear “Pleasure,” which was the second single off of the album, the sights and sounds (and let’s not forget the smells) comes rushing back to me. There are other bands that more clearly represented the bygone sound of 90FM to me–the Smithereens, the Replacements, R.E.M. and Material Issue, to name a few–but certain songs are a reminder to me that there were other groups and songs that occasionally elbowed their way into that select group.
(Disclaimer: As far as I can tell, Hotwired is no longer available as a physical item that a person can walk into their favorite local, independently-owned record store and buy it. In fact, most of the Soup Dragons’ discography seems to be out of print. It can be acquired through a digital purchase, but nuts to that. Regardless, the song is shared here with the understanding that it’s largely out of the fiscal mix for the band. Even with that belief, I will gladly remove it if I’m contacted by some with due authority to make such a request making that request.)