Doves as a band rose literally from the ashes of Sub Sub, the more dance-orientated group that brothers Jez and Andy Williams, and Jimi Goodwin formed together in 1989. They had released some well received singles but their studio caught fire in 1996, destroying everything they owned. Their reconstruction turned into the Doves as we now know them, a band whose genes hold touches of Manchester’s -Madchester’ days but who always sounded much more than three boys with guitars – the early dance angle inherent in the beats and bass on all of their albums.
Doves are also loved. Their fans seem to be in it for the long haul as can be attested from the practical love-in that regular visits to places like the Olympia become and the warmth of the band, plus whatever magic ingredient is in the music, turn those gigs into something really special.
Now ten years is indeed a long time in politics, but is it such in music? Do four albums warrant a -best of’ in a day and age where we can all create our own best-of by picking and mixing mp3s on iTunes? In thinking about this, and this album, it’s worth noting that the ideal purpose of -best ofs’ is to allow a whole new audience to discover a band (just thinking personally here about, say, the superb Best of The House Of Love). What they give you is a broad overview and insights to a band you may be interested in, at one simple point of reference.
There’s no point it being critical of an album such as this in terms of it being an original, creative work as a whole. It’s a time capsule for people who will somehow stumble upon the band. A sampler of ten glorious years. And there’s no arguing with the selection. Every song on the album is a Doves classic; -Pounding’, -There Goes The Fear’, -Cedar Room’, Kingdom Of Rust’ plus the new -Andalucia’. A friend who had never heard the band also picked out -Black And White Town’ and -Catch The Sun’ but all of them are high points in their career. What is missing is the ebb and flow of a Doves album proper. These are gripes of a Doves fan, who a -best of’ is not truly aimed at, but it is only when you hear the bigger songs together like this you realise how well the original albums worked as a unit. The second disk in this album is a collection of some majestic b-sides (-Eleven Miles Out’ – a live favourite) and some patchy demo/alt versions but it certainly is a worthy addition to the first disk.
A pedant reviewer might say for a true -best of’ simply buy the debut Lost Souls and listen to nothing for a week, then buy The Last Broadcast and listen to nothing else for a month. This collection here, however, is 15 or more truly fantastic songs from a warm and wonderful band that deserve you ears. If you do not have a Doves album in your collection, remedy that immediately with one of the solutions proffered above.