THE MIGHTY 60 FOOT DOLLS
Posted yesterday on 'Punks on Postcards' site reference 'Talk to Me' by 60 Foot Dolls "I've been lucky enough (I think) to grow up around the best city on earth. Newport South Wales! Back when we were the 'New Seattle' in the mid 90's some fantastic bands were regularly playing. Novocaine, Rectify, Dub War, Cowboy Killers, Flyscreen, Doctor Bison, Terris. And this lot, 60 Foot Dolls. They released some brilliant records which make the current crop of Kaisers, Enemy etc. sound like a bunch of school girls. If you liked The Chords post I think you'll like this."
Described as follows in Wikipedia "They were formed in Newport in 1992 by Richard J. Parfitt and Michael Cole, who met through Donna Matthews (later of Elastica),who was at the time, dating Cole and working part-time in the same pizza restaurant as Parfitt. After problems finding the right drummer, they eventually took on pastor's son Carl Bevan (father pastor Ray Bevan). Initially influenced by touring American hardcore bands that played in Newport (and in particular, prominent local venue T. J.'s), the Dolls played noisy yet melodic rock, described by the NME as "grunge mod...proto-pub metal blues of the first order". In 1993, Huw Williams of the Pooh Sticks became their manager and released the debut single "Happy Shopper", named after a British convenience store chain, on his own Townhill label".
How they met (Parfitt and Cole) - Aside from a brief stint as guitarist and backup singer with indie pop outfit the Darling Buds, Mike Cole had had no experience playing in bands before hooking up with Richard. According to the Dolls' developing mythology, the two met at the dole office while wrangling over the last housing benefit form. In actuality, they'd become casually acquainted through the Newport music scene. "But we did bump into each other at the unemployment office," Mike insists. Richard tells it like this: "We weren't great friends, but we knew each other. Mike was always too pissed drunk to speak to, usually sort of leaning against the doorway. When my group split up, I immediately thought of him. I knew the Darling Buds; they lived opposite me. But I thought of him because of his haircut, really his haircut and his trousers."
According to welshbands 60 Ft Dolls' first gig was at T.J.'s. With a capacity of only 300, the club was nonetheless the hub of Newport's burgeoning music scene. The Dolls all lived a stone's throw from the place and had attended countless shows there. Hüsker Dü and the Butthole Surfers made their British debuts at T.J.'s. Numerous bands of their ilk have graced the venerable venue's stage and made a lasting impression on 60 Ft Dolls.
'Happy Shopper' is reviewed on the AV Club website "The 1995 debut single by these former next-big-things stacks martial drums and towering riffs like so many wrapped packages, while bandleader Richard Parfitt shouts in his thick Welsh accent about a transsexual prostitute trapped in a suburban nightmare. "The working class can kiss my ass / If the price is right," Parfitt bellows, just before repeating "come on down" over and over, as both a double-entendre and an anti-consumerist taunt."
Having built up a reputation for rowdy and energetic performances around Wales, they were signed to Indolent Records and followed up 'Happy Shopper' with 'Pig Valentine' and Stay' followed and in 1995 they joined the NME Brat Bus tour alongside Veruca Salt and Marion. The album 'The Big Three' was released in 1996 . 'The Big 3' contains the song 'Talk to Me' which is a catchy, riff driven rabble rousing tune. It was on Sky News as theme to a political segment with Adam Boulton!
'Big 3' hit the Top 40 with glowing reviews "This is an absolute blinder of an album from a truly magnificent band. It is such a damn shame that the Dolls never received the recognition that they deserved, I for one just cannot understand why they never won the hearts of more people with their passionate brand of soulful rock n roll." "Love this band. They have a raw, loud, primal sound. This album is a great debut and their live gigs are brilliant. They have an energy that is conveyed even through recorded material." "Throughout this debut album, guitarist Richard Parfitt delivers some storming riffs, aided and abetted by pounding beats from Carl Bevan, a man with quite literally the roundest face in pop, a face so round his chums are never wanting for a beach ball should they desire a little recreation during their seemingly never-ending tour of poor venues in the UK. AThe tunes? A few of the tracks on offer here are just not memorable enough. However, the good ones, often owing more than a debt to The Jam, far outweigh the bad ones, although there is a bit of a lingering feeling of familiarity in tempo and style throughout the album. This is a nice way of saying it all sounds a bit the same, but this is no bad thing when the tunes are as cool as 'Happy Shopper' and 'No 1 Pure Alcohol'. Overall, could do better, but a top album nonetheless. "
New York Times selection of top singles released in the US on 4th January 1996 - "Gangsta's Paradise," by Coolio featuring L.V., "Waterfalls," by TLC; "Wonderwall," by Oasis; "Pig Valentine," by 60 Foot Dolls, and "Brown Sugar" by D'Angelo.
On June 23 1996 the band increased their audience considerably when they opened for the reunited Sex Pistols at London's Finsbury Park in front of 36,000 people. Also on that bill were the Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers and Iggy Pop.
You can hear their John Peel sessions from 1996 and 1998 here.
The follow-up to Big 3 was 'Joya Magica' which appeared in 1998. NME was scathing labelling it as 'out of date' "So in every way possible, this record doesn't matter. It's a harmless enough blast from the past, with a brief reminder of arguably better times stirred up in typical rousing single 'Alison's Room'. But if you really want to listen to 60ft Dolls again, hunt down their first album, 'The Big 3'. This is sadly only a pointless and very definite end to an unspectacular but enjoyable career. Everyone -; including the band -; have already moved on."
The band split in 1999 after being dropped by Indolent.
Parfiitt produced a solo album in 2002 "Highlights in Slow Motion" described, sadly, as an acoustic rock album.
Parfitt is credited with a hand in the success of others - he saw young girl with a voice like a sixties starlet desperate to get out of her small town and be a famous singer . He introduced the remarkable Duffy to Rough Trade Records and Rockferry followed shortly afterwards.
He is noted also for the discovery of the brief lived self styled 'saviours of pop music', Terris, at Le Pub in Newport.