The Soup Dragons

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The Soup Dragons
The Soup Dragons
The Soup Dragons
Background information
OriginBellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland
GenresIndie pop, alternative rock, alternative dance, baggy
Years active1985–1995, 2023
LabelsThe Subway Organization, Raw TV, Sire, Big Life, Mercury
Past membersSean Dickson
Jim McCulloch
Ian Whitehall
Sushil K. Dade
Ross A. Sinclair
Paul Quinn

The Soup Dragons are a Scottish alternative rock band of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Named after a character in the 1970s children's television series Clangers, the group is best known for its cover of the Rolling Stones' song "I'm Free", which was a Top 5 hit in the United Kingdom in 1990; and "Divine Thing", a Top 40 hit in the United States in 1992.


The Soup Dragons formed in Bellshill, a town near Motherwell, in 1985.[1] The line up was Sean Dickson (vocals, lead guitar), Jim McCulloch (guitar, second voice) who replaced Ian Whitehall, and Sushil K. Dade (bass). The original drummer Ross A. Sinclair left the group after the first album This Is Our Art to pursue a career in art, and he was replaced by Paul Quinn. Most of their songs were written by Sean Dickson.

The Soup Dragons recorded their first demo tape You Have Some Too after playing a few local gigs, and this was followed by a flexi disc single "If You Were the Only Girl in the World".[1] They signed to The Subway Organization in early 1986, and their first EP The Sun in the Sky was Buzzcocks-inspired pop punk. The band's breakthrough came with their second single for Subway, "Whole Wide World",[2] which reached No. 2 on the UK Independent Chart in 1986.[3] Dickson and McCulloch also played in BMX Bandits at this time.[1] The band were signed by former Wham! co-manager Jazz Summers' label Raw TV with further indie hits (and minor UK Singles Chart hits) following during 1987 and 1988.[3][4] Over the course of six singles (the first three collected in 1986 on a US-only compilation, Hang Ten), they gradually developed a complex rock guitar sound, which culminated in their first album This Is Our Art, now signed to major label Sire Records.[5] After one single from the album - "Kingdom Chairs" - was released, they then returned to original label Raw TV and Big Life Records.

In the year after This Is Our Art, The Soup Dragons' sound underwent a change from an indie rock sound, to the rock-dance crossover sound; this was mainly due to being without a drummer and buying a sampler and drum machine and experimenting with sound with the release of the album Lovegod. This change can be attributed to the rise of the ecstasy-fueled acid house rave scene in the UK. In 1990, they released "I'm Free", their most successful hit single in the UK and an up-tempo cover of a Rolling Stones song with an added toasting overdub by reggae star Junior Reid, which reached No. 5.[4] The single later appeared on the soundtrack for the movie The World's End (2013).

Subsequent albums continued in the band's own style and in 1992, they enjoyed their biggest US hit with "Divine Thing", which reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] It also hit No. 3 on the Modern Rock chart and its video was nominated by MTV as one of the year's best,[6] though beaten by Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit".[7]

The Soup Dragons disbanded in 1995.[8] Paul Quinn joined Teenage Fanclub. Sushil K. Dade formed the experimental post rock group Future Pilot A.K.A. and is now a producer for BBC Radio 3.[9] Sean Dickson formed The High Fidelity and has released many records and albums with other artists like Bootsy Collins, Yoko Ono, Crystal Waters and David McAlmont.[10] Jim McCulloch joined Superstar, wrote and recorded music with Isobel Campbell, and formed the folk group Snowgoose. Ross A. Sinclair had a successful career in art, winning a number of international awards and becoming a Research Fellow at Glasgow School of Art,[11] and still makes music to this day.[12]

The story of The Soup Dragons is traced as part of the 2017 documentary Teenage Superstars.[13]

The group announced on 27 March 2023 that the original line-up will play six reunion shows in the UK in October and November 2023. Support acts will be The Vaselines, BMX Bandits and a DJ set from The Pastels.[14][15]



List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart
This Is Our Art
  • Released: 1988
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette
  • Label: Sire
  • Released: 1990
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette
  • Label: Big Life
7 54 27 88
  • Released: 1992
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette
  • Label: Sire
74 97
  • Released: 1994
  • Format: 2×LP, CD, cassette
  • Label: Sire


  • Hang Ten! (1987), Sire – compiles the tracks from the singles "Hang-Ten!", "Whole Wide World" and "Head Gone Astray"
  • 20 Golden Greats (compilation, 2012)

Extended plays[edit]

  • Hang Ten! (1986)


Year Title Chart positions Album
UK Indie AUS

1986 The Sun Is in the Sky EP EP only
"Whole Wide World" 2 Hang-Ten!
"Hang-Ten" 2
1987 "Head Gone Astray" 82 3
"Can't Take No More"[24] 65 1 This Is Our Art
"Soft as Your Face" 66 2
1988 "The Majestic Head" 77 4
"Kingdom Chairs" 82
1989 "Backwards Dog"[25] 5 Lovegod
"Crotch Deep Trash" 6
1990 "Mother Universe" 94 4
"I'm Free" 5 2 9 26 38 33 15 52 6 79
"Mother Universe" (remixed version) 26 45
1991 "Electric Blues"[26] single only
1992 "Divine Thing" 53 35 Hotwired
"Pleasure"[27] 69
1994 "One Way Street" Hydrophonic
2022 "Janice Long Session 01.09.86" Non album release
2022 "John Peel Session 06.02.87" Non album release
2023 "Janice Long Session 30.08.87" Non album release
2023 "John Peel Session 24.02.86" Non album release
2023 "Love Is Love" Non album release
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  1. ^ a b c Thompson, Dave (2000) Alternative Rock, Miller Freeman, San Francisco, ISBN 0879306076, p.646-647
  2. ^ hifisean (9 December 2007). "The Soup Dragons - Whole Wide World". YouTube.
  3. ^ a b Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980 - 1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p.213
  4. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p.515-6
  5. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 0-85112-579-4.
  6. ^ "The Soup Dragons - Divine Thing". YouTube. 8 December 2007.
  7. ^ "The Soup Dragons - MTV Awards". YouTube. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  8. ^ "I'm Free by The Soup Dragons". Retrieved 21 June 2020. The band split in 1995.
  9. ^ "BBC Blogs - BBC Radio 3 - Sushil K Dade". 30 May 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Hifi Sean: 'I was consumed with guilt because I'd hurt people'". The Guardian. 16 April 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Ross Sinclair - Contemporary Art Society". Contemporary Art Society. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Patricia Fleming Projects - A contemporary art gallery and studio based in Glasgow". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  13. ^ "British Council Film: Teenage Superstars". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  14. ^ "The Soup Dragons".
  15. ^ "The Soup Dragons return for Live Tour". 27 March 2023.
  16. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 516. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  17. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 261.
  18. ^ "Soup Dragons Lovegod New Zealand Charting". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  19. ^ "The Soup Dragons Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  20. ^ a b c d e "The Soup Dragons – I'm Free". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  21. ^ "Search for Soup Dragons in Artist". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  22. ^ "Discography The Soup Dragons". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  23. ^ "The Soup Dragons Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  24. ^ Lilian De Munno (22 February 2006). "32 - Soup Dragons - Can't Take No More". YouTube.
  25. ^ "The Soup Dragons - Backwards Dog". Retrieved 21 June 2021 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ "The Soup Dragons - Electric Blues". 9 December 2007 – via YouTube.
  27. ^ sjteich (22 August 2006). "Soup Dragons - Pleasure" – via YouTube.

External links[edit]