Having released around 16 official albums, Dropkick, the premier sunshine power pop band from Scotland’s east coast were somewhat spoiled for choice when it came to compiling a best of album. So spoiled for choice in fact that they’ve only gone and spoiled their fans with a 27 song set (30 on a limited double disc vinyl edition) which, given that no one is going on holiday this year, will be a perfect substitute for those desiring some sunshine in their lives.
Over the years there have been several line ups of the band (although it’s intriguing to note that essentially there have only been eight members including some who left and then rejoined) and it’s tribute to Andrew Taylor, the primary songwriter, that there’s a signature Dropkick sound portrayed throughout. Sure, enough, their roots are in bands such as The Byrds and Big Star, but Taylor et al can stand on their own two feet and this dig through their past more than proves that point. How they cherry picked the selection is not known to us but their first three albums are conspicuous in their absence, the earliest selection here being Dog And Cat from 2006’s album, Obvious. To be honest, we haven’t heard those first three albums, but Dog And Cat portrays the band setting out their stall, firmly in thrall to jangled pop with a mandolin providing much of the jangle. There’s a refreshing sense of innocents setting out into the fray here but, one year later, on Give It Back, the band have fleshed out and flex their muscles somewhat, the song a harbinger of much to come especially with its sinewy guitar solo.
This writer’s first exposure to Dropkick was the 2008 album, Dot The I and by then they were just about fully formed. Good Vibes remains quite spectacular especially when it channels The Beach Boys towards the end, while Figure It Out reminds one that the band can turn their hand to melodic pop in the vein of McCartney and Gerry Rafferty. They can also pack some heft which was more to the fore on Abelay Hotel which had a much more chunkier element to the songs. Have a listen to Choose and admire the chiming guitar riff which grounds the excellent harmonies and imagine this was actually Graham Nash and The Hollies with George Harrison on guitar, it’s not too far fetched actually.
With such an abundance of songs included it would be somewhat tiresome and tiring to go through all of them. Rest assured that the eight albums which followed on from Abelay Hotel are all represented, each one’s individuality able to stamp its presence. Whether it’s the appearance of a mighty organ groove amidst the clangourous guitars of Hold On, the pedal steel inflected Come Home or the Beatles’ like guitar harmonics and swelling organ notes of I Wish I Knew, with a fine McGuinn type guitar solo at its centre, Dropkick maintain a kite mark of quality throughout. I’m Over You, Goodbye brings us bang up to date, plucked as it is from the 2020 album, The Scenic Route, and it finds Dropkick in rude health.
As mentioned earlier, The Best Of Dropkick is available in several versions, all available here. No matter which format you may go for, the songs are not presented in chronological order allowing for a fine sense of variety throughout. It’s a cracking collection and quite impressive given that Dropkick are not exactly what you would call a “stadium” band (they’ve really pulled all the stops out for the vinyl edition). If you are new to the band then prepare to be impressed, for those in the know, this is a handy pocket book edition of some of the best songs to have come out of Scotland.
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Author: Paul Kerr