60ft Dolls: The Big 3

Long-lost debut from the black sheep of Britpop.

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Distant civilisations, untroubled by sales figures and reputations, will wonder how on earth the 60ft Dolls managed to slip through the cracks while the Britpop party raged.

Formed in a dole queue in South Wales in 1992 by guitarist Richard Parfitt and bassist Mike Cole, their debut – originally released in 1996 – remains a masterclass in muscular pub punk. While their contemporaries plundered the Beatles songbook, The Dolls hot-wired the zeitgeist to their own engine, combining the nihilistic rage of grunge with tripwire-taut arrangements ingrained as teenage Jam fans (Parfitt had already served time in mod revivalists The Truth).

Talk To Me is the Oasis single that never was, all sledgehammer riffing and shredded-larynx vocals, while Good Times is even more unhinged, the sound of Buffalo Tom wrecked on White Lightning.

If their, erm, lifestyle choices are reflected by the gut-churning riffage of No. 1 Pure Alcohol, their songs also came with wry social observations – notably debut single Happy Shopper, about a transvestite Parfitt encountered in his local supermarket.

While a second CD of B-sides will appease completists, it’s the five tracks from a long-lost Peel session that serve as a reminder of the Dolls’ visceral power as a live act, not least paint-stripping instrumental Piss Funk. A timely reminder that 90s rock wasn’t all about chart squabbles and Adidas./o:p

Paul Moody is a writer whose work has appeared in the Classic Rock, NME, Time Out, Uncut, Arena and the Guardian. He is the co-author of The Search for the Perfect Pub and The Rough Pub Guide.