Right Said Fred were a rum proposition – solid light entertainment values in leather pants, with the mildest dash of sauce added. Jobbing musicians, no great shakes as singers but likeable chaps, so people gave them the benefit of the doubt and let them sweat a novelty hit into two or three years of genuine fame. The Fairbrass brothers were everywhere for a while – the NME embraced them, Smash Hits lapped them up, the red-tops loved the silliness, the public seemed to enjoy the tunes, they bagged an Ivor Novello or two. Right Said Fred enjoyed a remarkable level of goodwill, which didn’t really fade until their second album came out and people realised there actually wasn’t room in their life for Black Lace with an extra member and half the hair.
But that was winter ’93, a world away from summer ’91 – particularly if you peddled the kind of family-fun pop “the Freds” did. Their comeback coincided with Matthew Banister’s arrival at Radio 1 – the moment the station stopped chasing reach and started pursuing influence – and Right Said Fred feel like the end of something: a band built for Radio 1 Roadshows in seaside towns, the kind of group Smashie and Nicey would love.
Does that make them awful? Not inevitably – though the line between dreadfully British and Britishly dreadful is a thin one. “Deeply Dippy”‘s problem isn’t being a silly, happy pop song. It’s never hitting the kind of swing its structure needs it to – that big brassy climax ought to be a joyful communal lift-off but even the group don’t sound like they’re having much fun as they try to gee the rest of us up. Fairbrass’ “See those legs, man.” is perhaps the least excited ad lib ever recorded. Like Shakespears Sister, there’s a feeling of a band playing with dynamics, trying to do something a bit different with their three minutes – and that’s admirable, but Right Said Fred can’t pull it off. “Deeply Dippy” ends up sounding more like forced jollity than good clean fun.