Its no secret, that Doves first incarnation was the dance/electronic act Sub Sub. Jimi first met Andy & Jez at Wilmslow Comprehensive in 1986.
As a young guitarist, Jimi’s first band were called The Risk.
In 1985 whilst the rest of the world had its eyes fixed on Live Aid, The Risk played the Wilmslow Methodist Church, to raise money for starving African kids.
Andy & Jez were in the band called Static Mist (originally called Open View) who made an appearance on the Kids TV show Saturday Superstore. Later on, Jez was in the band Metro Trinity with Johnny Male, of Republica fame. They recorded the EP Die Young.
The three met again, a couple years later in 1988, this time at the Hacienda in Manchester. By this time, The Williams brothers had put together Spaceface which was to be their first single. At this time, Jimi was playing in the Joe Roberts band. It was through the Joe Roberts band, that they met Dave Rofe, who would later become their manager.
Early 1991, saw the independent release of Spaceface, backed up with the b-side EktoJam-Sub, the first track to be co-written with Jimi. The intial press of 500 sold quickly, leading to more pressings which the band sold wherever they could, including from the back of there cars! 2000 copies were sold this way. With the record being played in the nightclubs drumming up attention, they were soon signed up by Virgin’s Ten Records, who released Spaceface in January 1992, to moderate success.
Virgin did not sign up Sub Sub for any further releases upon hearing the next single, leaving the band to look elsewhere for a record deal. The band were introduced to Rob Gretton through Dave Rofe at the Dry Bar on Oldham Street, Manchester. Rob agreed to release Sub Sub records if he liked them with a 50/50 financial split. It was at this time, Dave Rofe became Sub Sub’s manager, using free office space given to him by Rob Gretton.
The Coast EP would be the debut release on Rob’s records. Released in June 1992.
This would be followed by Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) featuring Temper Temper vocalist Melanie Williams in April 1993 See the video for the single here. The single was a surprise smash hit, selling over 750,000 copies, spending 11 weeks in the charts. Earning the band a spot on Top of the Pops, after reaching number three in the singles charts.
Ain’t No Love uses a sample lifted from a track called Good morning Starshine by Revelation which appeared on the Disco Spectacular (Inspired By The Film “Hair”) record released in 1979.
Watch Sub Sub perform Ain’t No Love live at an awards ceremony in Paris here.
With the money from the sales of Ain’t No Love, the band set up their own studio in the Ancoats area of Manchester.
Ain’t No Love was followed up with the single, Respect. Not surprising, the single didn’t trouble the charts, reaching number 49. The band later saying, they panicked with Respect, it wasn’t the record they wanted to put out, more in the hope of pleasing the record buying public. The third single on Rob’s Records Angel soon followed, released August 15th 1994.
The first album Full Fathom Five was released September 5th 1994. The album did not trouble the charts at all. The band later admitting it was a patchy album. The album’s fourth single Southern Trees featuring Gill Jackson on vocals was released January 23rd 1995 which went largely unnoticed, as with everything released since Ain’t No Love.
On February 18th 1996, the band’s Ancoats studio burnt down. A story which is now rather infamous with Doves past. Pretty much everything was lost except for some dat tapes, thankfully the band did have insurance which, the band have said, without it, they probably would not have been able to carry on.
As you would expect, it was a while before we would hear from Sub Sub again. They released a further two more singles:
Smoking Beagles Released December 16th 1996, co-written and featured Tricky.
This Time I’m Not Wrong which was released as a single on August 25th 1997. See the video for this release here. This would be Sub Sub’s last record release on Rob’s Records. B-sides included an early version of Firesuite.
Jimi played bass with Electronic, an alt dance group formed by New Order’s Bernard Sumner and ex Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr. Watch Jimi playing live with Electronic here, aired November 30th 1996.
The band got offers to release the material that they had backed up on dat tapes, which were kept at their homes. The Delta Tapes was released Febuary 23rd 1998, in Portugal on the unknown Megamusica label and also in Australia on the equally unknown Cortex Records. The Delta Tapes signaled the end of Sub Sub.
Perhaps a deliberate move or just pure coincidence. On the same day as the Delta Tapes were released, the trio previously known as Sub Sub, would play their first ever live show as doves, at the Stoke Wheatsheaf supporting Weave.
Seven months later, November 9th 1998, Doves would release their debut record, the Cedar EP.
All photos are from the Manchester District Music Archive.
Updated June 2019.