Dodgy - Ace As and Killer Bs

THERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE for the music of Dodgy. And that time and place is lounging around a sun-dappled meadow in 1968 whilst wearing paisley Y-fronts.

Fair play, then, to the three Dodgsters for actually making a viable career out of such a potentially calamitous underwear situation. For if this 'Ace A's + Killer B's' collection proves anything it is that Nigel Clark, Andy Miller and Mathew Priest have spent the '90s mastering the hippy-dippy shake with a zealousness that could easily shame the average Keith Moonie.

Essentially the lively sound of jolly red Routemaster buses and stadium buskers and smokin' nights in stokin' Stoke Newington, 'Ace A's...' draws together no fewer than 17 of Dodgy's organically-spun tunes, all seemingly borne of good times and hazy narcotics and communal campfire viberamas. Never as po-faced as Ocean Colour Scene or as droopy-jowled as Oasis, Dodgy virtually redefine the word 'perky' by virtue of their slaphappy grooves, their sugar-sweet harmonies and their spirit-raising psychedelic folk beatpop Hair Bear Monster Munch of a noise.

Sounds shite, doesn't it? Of course it does. The plonking, cheery fervour of 'Good Enough' on its own would be sufficient to send Mansun fans squealing for their Marillion-style artwork, but when it comes complete with 'Staying Out For The Summer', 'In A Room', 'Lovebirds', 'So Let Me Go Far', 'Found You' and the completely insanely choooon-mungous 'Making The Most Of' you realise that this situation is critical. Eating three Shredded Wheat is one thing; toe-tapping nonstop through an hour and 15 minutes of hugs and blisses is quite another. "Melodies haunt you!" they beam, dazzlingly, in the deftly-titled 'Melodies Haunt You'. This, one surmises, is hardly surprising when the refrain of "Melodies haunt you!" is repeated 30million times in the same bastard song.

Obviously, some of this album really is quite good. Strangely bereft of the political edge that has always shadowed the trio's rise from VW Beetlemania to commercial acceptance, and knocked curiously askew by the news that singer Clark has flown the rocky roost, 'Ace A's...' can do little more than be a bit punchy, a tad brassy, extremely enthusiastic and slightly like The Beatles while providing the missing link between blatant classicism and cute-but-crass middle-eights. So it does.

With crazy pants, obviously. 6/10

Simon Williams