British trio 60FT Dolls appeared in the early 1990s, forming as the British music culture was changing and evolving into what would soon be known as Britpop. But it would be unfair to lump 60FT Dolls in with that lot, as they had much more to offer than many of their compatriots. This reissue expands the original album with subsequent b-sides and live session, and it documents the work of a highly underrated band
Their formula was simple; a blend of no-frills frenetic punk rock with a melodic Sixties edge, thanks in part to lead singer Richard Parfitt’s engaging voice, bass player Mike Cole’s alluring bass line, and Carl Bevan’s pounding beat. Yet they never sounded indebted to either style, resulting in tight, powerful rock that sounded both original and easy on the ears. It also didn’t hurt that Parfitt had a snotty, confident, sneering singing voice that was not unlike Liam Gallagher. Cole would be asked to join Oasis, but turned them down out of loyalty.
Like most bands of the era, a handful of singles preceded their debut; “Happy Shopper” and “Pig Valentine” were radio friendly, earning them opening slots and an audience with their catchy, melodic pop fare. The Big 3 followed, continuing that trend with great numbers like “Good Times” and “No.1 Pure Alcohol” that placed them in the pantheon with contemporaries Supergrass, Oasis, and Elastica, while subsequent singles “Stay” and “Talk To Me” would take them into the UK Top 40 charts. For all of The Big 3’s brash, catchy, upbeat rock, they did have a sensitive side, which stands out on album numbers “Streamlined” and “Buzz.” and b-sides “Easy” and “Rosalyn” are songs that might best be called “tender,” while their Peel Session performance is raucous and potent, highlighting just how intense and powerful their live shows could be.
They would make one more album, and then quietly split; Parfitt would become a respected music industry mogul, Bevan would continue playing in bands and producing other acts, while Cole, who enjoyed the decadence of rock and roll a bit too much, suffers from mental illness and agoraphobia. Considering how brightly and intensely they burned, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the band wouldn’t last. Listening to The Big 3 nearly two decades on—and out of the context of the drecky mid-90s Britpop deluge—it’s easy to understand the appeal, and it leaves one wishing that things had worked out better for them
Categories: Album Reviews