Dodgy – Free Peace Sweet (1996)

Philippa Willes

Housing Project Officer, aged 53

I saw Dodgy headline a small festival stage 20-plus years ago and they have tour dates advertised for 2024, showcasing this very album live. I think they have long since outgrown Bacchus, barely big enough for a full drum kit, but one can always hope. 

As a regular visitor to Bacchus in the 1990s, I felt I should have a connection with the band who had a residency there, the eponymous Dodgy Club. The ”Wine Bar” having been in a cellar was the most tentative link to wine, generally the libations on offer would have been special offer alcopops and nondescript beer. The tiled floor was both slippery and sticky with spilled drinks, condensation dripped from the ceiling, and it was genre-specific party night, every night (especially school nights).

Free Peace Sweet (a clever pun on the ubiquitous lounge furnishing ‘three piece suite’, a matching sofa and two armchairs, very popular in the preceding decades, ask your Nan) is a classic slice of 90s pop rock. There are plenty of recognisable radio edit sing-along tunes, and arrangements move between jangly guitars with electronic backing (Good Enough, their biggest hit) through close part vocal harmony (In a Room) to soaring orchestral strings (If You’re Thinking of Me). 

Not all Ace A’s and Killer B’s, as their best-of album is cleverly named, One of Those Rivers literally drifts off into pre-Mumford & Sons banjo, as if missing the stop in Kingston and ending up at the end of the 281 bus route in Hounslow, where the band formed. Some incongruous trumpet fanfares and flailing drum breaks bring to mind The Who rock opera or self-indulgent Beatles recordings. On balance, uplifting, mellow and taking me back to a festival field in late summer sunshine. 

Kingston link:

Dodgy had a residency at Bacchus nightclub, on the back of which they launched their career.

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