We all know how this is supposed to work. A band comes together and make an album that is so good that people buy it in droves, we talk about it in hushed tones for years to come and the band go on to create an enviable canon of records and gigs.
Except it doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes incredible records fail to gain traction with the zeitgeist in the way that they should. The result of this is that record and band stay under the radar, get pressured or dropped by a record company looking for a return on its investment and they break up, ignored and disillusioned.
There seems to be no readily discernible reason for this, other than success in the music business is more a matter of luck than of talent. In other words, bad luck and a lack of lucky breaks can doom bands and records to undeserved obscurity.
But this does not mean that these records are any less wonderful. They still excite and amaze, they still float the listener away on clouds of musical perfection. Their worth is measured not in terms of units shifted, but in souls moved.
Such a fate befell One Dove and their Morning Dove White album.
It is, without questions, a towering thing of beauty, but it was beset with difficulties from its inception.
One Dove came from the 90’s dance music boom, combining chilled electronica, dub and dance floor appeal. Their first single Fallen was a hit in clubs at the time, which led to them signing to the influential Junior Boy’s Own label, changing their name from Dove, due to a band of that name already doing the rounds.
JBO released a superb Andrew Weatherall remix of Fallen, but already One Dove’s run of bad luck had started. Fallen was withdrawn after just one week, following complaints about an unlicensed harmonica sample from a Supertramp song.
A second single, Transient Truth followed and gathered further acclaim for One Dove.
Junior Boy’s Own was taken over by London Records and the new masters wanted a more commercial sound for One Dove. To this end, they brought in Stephen Hague to remix next single White Love. Hague was a big name producer who worked with the likes of New Order, Pet Shop Boys and Erasure, so his pedigree was good.
His work with the band earned them favourable comparisons to Saint Etienne and brought them wider attention.
However, the stage was set for tension.
One Dove resented Hague’s commercialising of their sound and resisted attempts to sugar coat their songs. The release of Morning Dove White was delayed by a full year as the band fought with their record company about how they should sound.
The impasse was only broken when it was agreed that Hague coulis only remix their singles if they were in the studio with him at the time.
On its release, Morning Dove White only managed to make number 30 in the album charts. Listening back to it now, this is a shame of near criminal proportions.
Morning Dove White is a sublime record. As much as Stephen Hague may figure in One Dove’s story, this album has Andrew Weatherall running through its veins.
In many ways, Morning Dove White is Screamadelica’s little sister, younger and more effortlessly cool than its more grown up sibling.
Both albums carry the same sense of clubbing euphoria and both perfectly capture the spirit of the times in their grooves, but perhaps Morning Dove White is less likely to finish its bag of pills in one go and then fall asleep on your sofa for the rest of the weekend.
Morning Dove White starts with off with Weatherall’s remix of Fallen, minus the Supertramp sample. Singer Dot Allison introduces the album by seductively whispering ‘I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this. One thing is, don’t ever tell anyone I told you this. Don’t save me, just forgive me. Forgive me, because I was only thinking of you.’
Straight away, Allison has drawn us in, made us her confidants. We are friends and we want to know more. The music is rich with Weatherall’s Screamadelica-esque swoops, beats and whooshes. One Dove have created a sound that would be perfectly at home on the dance floor and for a post clubbing chill out session.
There is an unhurried fell to the songs, with the first two tracks clocking in at just under 18 minutes, a link to the fact that their roots lay in long nights on club dancefloors.
Second track White Love exceeds ten minutes on its own. Here in its Guitar Paradise Mix, it builds slowly, with guitar chords feeding back before the beats kick in.
The drug references of the 90s are present and correct, with Allison singing ‘this powerful, this pure, behind our eyes. And when I trip, when I fall, it’s just like velvet’.
Despite being only the second track, White Love is the album’s centrepiece, an epic, sprawling trip of a song that, despite it’s length, never outstays its welcome.
Breakdown carries the vibe forward with dub basslines and a Higher Than The Sun beat and Dot Allison lamenting ‘I remember the night you left me, the moon was full, I felt empty.’ It isn’t all euphoria for One Dove, as heartbreak and melancholy seep into their songs like cold night air.
There Goes The Cure and Sirens are blissful and almost beat free excursions, drifting along on a haunting piano or organ refrains, moments of calm and reflection.
The version of Transient Truth here is a dubbed out nine minute epic, with a Jah Wobble-esque bassline and runs of eastern melodies. It is stunningly beautiful and the album’s least commercial sounding song. So far on Morning Dove White, every track could be a single, but Transient Truth is out there.
Morning Dove White finishes with the yearning Why Don’t You Take Me, a straight forward pop song buried under layers of dub and a yearning not to sound too commercial.
Reissues of the album have extra tracks in the shape of various remixes, but the original Morning Dove White is more than enough. It takes you out, shows you a good time, tells you how it has had it heart broken and walks home with you. At the end you are best friends, you know each other and you will always be there for each other.
Despite these creative peaks and some extraordinary music, One Dove’s experience had been a frustrating one. Part way through recording their second album One Dove split up, with the business side of the music industry proving too much for them and their creative vision.
Dot Allison went on to have an acclaimed career as a solo artist, releasing further beautiful music and collaborating with the likes of Massive Attack, Death in Vegas and Slam.
But, for a beautiful fleeting moment, One Dove existed and our lives were the better for it.
There is probably an alternative universe where One Dove’s path through the world was smoother and their artistic vision was encouraged rather than whitewashed and where they are revered as gods, but for us here in this universe, we have Morning Dove White to love and to cherish.
And that is enough.