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The Bloody Classics - Happy Mondays

Happy Mondays, Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches 1990, Factory Records Track List 1. Kinky Afro 2. God’s Cop 3. Donovan 4. Grandbag’s Funeral 5. Loose Fit 6. Dennis and Lois 7. Bob’s Yer Uncle 8. Step On 9. Holiday 10. Harmony “Madchester” contemporaries of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays formed in 1980. They fused funk and house music along with the rock and psychedelia elements of the Madchester movement, they also fully embraced the drug culture of the 1980 and 90s rave scene. This is their third album and their most commercially successful, produced by Paul Oakenfold who would become famous as a house music mega-DJ and recorded in Los Angeles where the band had access to a wider variety of drugs than they did in Manchester. Single Kinky Afro, a song about a dysfunctional family opens the album with lovely sounding synth strings and acoustic guitar. God’s Cop has some nice slide guitar, which is something you don’t hear too often and the rhythm section is strong. The song is a swipe at the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police at the time who was strongly against the drug and rave culture that the Happy Mondays epitomised. Donovan has an interesting, languid, Joy Division vibe before the guitars kick in and more than a few stolen lyrics (a feature of this album as a whole). Grandbag’s Funeral is the most psychedelic but it’s forgettable and lead singer Shaun Ryder’s voice sounds strained and it’s pretty messy overall, it’s also the most like a standard rock song. Loose Fit is a Madchester classic with its iconic intro. It’s a chilled out tune for the end of the night in a club. Rowetta’s backing vocals are particularly nice and it’s the most lyrically interesting song, speaking not just about the loose fitting clothes ravers liked to wear (they were also known as “Baggys”) but also a general liberal attitude to life. Dennis and Lois is another upbeat one with some cool synth stuff. Bob’s Yer Uncle is a joke sex song, but I found it cringy and gross. Step On is the most Happy Mondays song that’s ever happened which is why its mind blowing that it’s actually a cover. Holiday has more fun synth and cool use of wave sounds. I like this one, the synth piano is nice. It’s another late in the night in a club kind of song. Harmony is a bizarre way to end, again Ryder’s voice sounds strained and it could easily have been left out. While it’s probably not fair to say that you need to have taken a cocktail of pills to truly enjoy this album, I do think at the very least you need to have had a few drinks. I think I’d have enjoyed a lot of it much more in a club than I did sitting on my sofa. Most of the lyrics are pretty forgettable but the beats are the kind of good that becomes great with the right level of intoxication. It’s definitely a product of its environment and a great halfway house between more traditional rock and house music, it epitomises the short lived scene of which it’s considered to be such an iconic part. Really though it’s just supposed to be music that’s fun to dance to and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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