Ever since the humble beginnings of modern popular culture, each generation has laid claim to the sights and sounds which defined that specific era. It was Teddy Boys in the fifties, psychedelia in the sixties, Glam Rock in the seventies and New Romantics in the eighties. Yet by the nineties, music stars had learned from what had gone before but longed for the freedom of the accepting sixties. The catalyst for such change came in 1993 when the controller of BBC Radio 1 Johnny Beerling was fired and the fresh faced Matthew Bannister was recruited in his place. Bannister wasn’t afraid to make big changes in order to regain the desired Radio 1 audience of 16-24 year olds. Out went old fashioned DJs like Simon Bates and Dave Lee Travis and in came bright, young and enthusiastic broadcasters such as Jo Whiley, Chris Evans and Zoe Ball. With this overhaul came the new sound of Radio 1 with the entire playlist rewritten.
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A few years earlier, best friends Nigel Clark and Matthew Priest formed a musical duo, calling themselves Purple uprooted from their perspective homes in Bromsgrove and Redditch and headed for London in the search of success. It was here that the duo met bass guitarist Frederic Collier who agreed to join the band. Yet success has so far eluded them and they were all forced to go out and get “real” jobs. Nigel was recruited as a factory worker for Austin Rover and quickly found himself in a mundane 9-5 job surrounded by colleagues who had been doing the same job for a lifetime. This prompted him to realise that there must be another way to live your life, away from the tight confines of the rat race. Such a feeling inspired him to write a song which resulted in the Britpop anthem; Staying Out For The Summer, which ironically allowed all of them to escape the mundane rat race for good and form the band known as Dodgy.
This song quickly gathered momentum and promptly found itself on the prestigious playlist which made up ‘The New Sound of Radio 1’. Dodgy were in good company on the playlist and found themselves sharing the airwaves with other likeminded groups; Blur, Oasis, Supergrass, Ocean Colour Scene, Shed Seven and many more. Suddenly music had something to say again and perfectly echoed the mood of the times. The nineties were rooted in unashamed optimism and the music reflected it. These were the days when the UK Top 40 still mattered and it was still a great honour to appear on Top Of The Pops.
Dodgy’s third album Free Peace Sweet helped to define the nineties with a string of hits including In a Room and the festival anthem Good Enough which reached number 4 in the UK singles charts but this song became so much bigger than the original chart billing. The easy melodic tones of this track makes the song easily identified after the first few bars has contributed to it becoming a sing-a-long classic and has evolved into something even bigger than the band even imagined. The simple reason for this, as Matthew states, is the song repeats the chorus over and over again. Essentially it’s just a great happy song and people feel good whenever they hear it.
In the summer of 2007, the band announced a reunion tour, featuring the entire original line up and have been together ever since. As Matthew highlights, Dodgy have been together longer this second time around than back in the nineties and still seem to thrive on life on the road. In the coming years they hope to increase their performance fee and have their sights set on playing to bigger venues. Yet the thrill of performing for all four guys remains as potent as it ever did in 1995 and as soon as they step on a stage, they have the energy and showmanship of their twenty year old selves. If they can maintain that energy, they’ll be “good enough” for many years to come.
It was a great pleasure to meet Matthew Priest and wish him and Dodgy the very best for the rest of their career.
Check back soon as we have another 90s music icon featured in coming weeks!
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