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The Doves- Industrial towns and classic anthems
on 5 April 2010
Let me hit you with the value for money argument first. Pay £9 for a basic greatest hits or £12 quid for two CDs and a DVD from this great British band? This is indeed a comprehensive package containing a host of B sides, rarities, and unreleased tracks. The other key factor is 3 new tracks namely the highly commercial guitar driven single "Andalusia", the pounding "Blue water" (a not to distance relative of "Here it comes") and the gorgeous "The Drifter" featuring Cherry Ghost's Simon Aldred and what sounds like a set of Christmas bells.
The only problem I have ever had with the Doves is that their début album "Lost Souls" which followed an almost catastrophic studio fire set such a high benchmark that it was almost impossible to follow. Yet follow it they did and throughout their four albums they have produced some of the best music of any British band over the past 10 years. Like their contemporaries Elbow they are not "sexy or hip" and yet their songs pack an emotional punch so hard they would frighten Joe Frazier. Check out the video for the stunning "Kingdom of Rust" (which is one of the few songs that jointly holds the record in this house for being played 5 times in a row) directed by China Moo Young. The visual imagery tells you all you need to know about the Doves. A young bearded man drives in a classic Ford Grenada up the M61 past Preston onto snowy moorland then to Blackpool to spread ashes of a relative on the beach (the album is dedicated to Jim Goodwins father Francis who died in 2008). He passes cooling towers, burger vans, lads playing football and flocks of seagulls. And this is the point; the mental images I have of the Doves are all very British yet their music transcends boundaries and genres. The recent BBC review highlights with pin point accuracy and is worth quoting -
"Opening song "There Goes the Fear", hurtles from music box tinkles to Afrobeat freak-out via one of the most compulsive rock tunes of modern times. Here it Comes - arguably the blueprint for Amy Winehouse's Motown revivalism. Fan of summery stadium pop? "Catch the Sun". Fancy a spot of epic gospel? "Caught by the River". Enjoy feeling like you're having your face melodically blow-torched? "Jetstream".
None of this of course mentions the bands signature song "The Cedar Room" opening with scrawling feedback, pounding drums and Goodwin's epic vocal and the brilliant instrumentation of Andy and Jez Williams. By the end of 7.38 minutes you have heard one of the most epic rock songs produced by a British band which is simply awesome. Aside from the well known songs the B sides here are of interest to fans although Im not certain about the mix of Firesuite. This is nevertheless a small complaint and for those who have never heard the classic Doves songs envy is the only emotion that one can feel for the forthcoming stupendous experience that will will have listening to Disk One of this album. Any self respecting music lover will own most of these songs already but this is an excellent package and there certainly is enough here for diehard fans to get added value. As I write this I'm listening to the best song Motown never recorded "Black and White town" and my teenage son shouted from the other room "Dad burn that for me". That's the Doves for you.