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Happy Mondays

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  • Pills Thrills And Bellyaches,
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    Happy Mondays

    bummed pills thrills and bellyaches yes please uncle dysfunktional

    Bummed ( 1988 )
    Country Song / Moving In With / Mad Cyril / Fat Lady Wrestlers / Performance / Brain Dead / Wrote For Luck / Bring A Friend / Do It Better / Lazy Itis

    Formed circa 1984 and quickly coming last in a battle of the bands competition in Manchester, The Happy Mondays would have gone ignored forever were it not for Factory Records boss, Tony Wilson. Yes, the same man who discovered Joy Division also signed The Happy Mondays. He never did sign other such Mancuian luminaries as The Smiths or The Stone Roses, but I suppose two out of four isn't too bad, all told. The sound of The Happy Mondays borrowed heavily from the rave and hip hop scenes, factoring in borrowed melodies and funk bass lines as well. In fact, were it not for the near stream of conciousness semi-sang, semi-spoken, semi scally vocal style of singer/lyricist Shaun Ryder, the group likely would never have attracted the level of attention they briefly did. Also factor in Bez, a man who became the 6th member of the group purely because he was tall, lanky and stupid looking when he danced, and there you have what became the 2nd biggest band in manchester circa 1990/1991. During the brief 'madchester' explosion, you fell one side of the fence or the other. You either adored Happy Mondays or Stone Roses. I must admit, personally, I always preferred The Stone Roses, but that's by the by. What about 'Bummed'? Well, almost every song features the same combination of scratchy guitar playing funk lines, bass filling in and tumbling drum patterns. The opening 'Country Song' is one exception to this rule, a mid-tempo measured and pondering musical track under which Shaun makes little actual sense with his scally poetry, but it's there. No, the sound of this album is typified by songs such as 'Bring A Friend'. Borrowed sixities and seventies melodies, echo on the drums which do their 'falling and tumbling' thing at the end of almost every vocal phrase. A funk bass filling in the spaces between the guitars and the drums without managing to do anything particularly interesting of its own.... volia!

    'Lazy Itis' and 'Wrote For Luck' were both singles and have both stood the test for time far better than the majority of album tracks have. 'Lazy Itis' actually manages to have a different melodic hook guitar wise than the usual funk scratches, the bass is heard and melodic, the drums just drum without sounding irritating and repetitive. Producer Martin Hannett ( also producer for Joy Division ) manages to create a clean sound here and uses echo in the right places to enhance certain phrases. The six minute long 'Wrote For Luck' has the typical Mondays sound i've described elsewhere, just that for these six minutes it suddenly sounds inspired rather than insipid. 'Bummed' is clearly the sound of a band still finding their feet, overall. By the time it came for their next album to be released, they were nudging the lower reaches of the UK top forty singles charts and on their way.

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    Readers Comments

    brad obolyeldarb@hotmail.com
    now heres me thinking a review is based on the merits of the musical content of the said album and not a comparison to other artists.hmmm.sounds like you're a bit of a roses fan boy.despire their greatness, they werent without flaws either.sure the first album was genius and probably better than any mondays albums.but then what?we wait 5 years and get the second coming(of led zeppelin, it would seem).yeh the roses were great, but for one record.they were always slightly work-shy whereas the mondays consistently brought out new material which never ceased to be catchy,hillarious,stupid and genius at the same time, but most of all....fascinating.the roses fascinated us but after 5 years, it kinda fades.and what the hell are you on about the roses paved the way for the mondays?the mondays started the "madchester" craze long before the roses came about.get your facts straight

    rob rob@mncar.com
    After reading your initial comments regarding the Happy Mondays and comparison to other Mancunian bands its apparent you haven't got a clue what your talking about when it comes to the Manchester Music scene. There are well documented reasons why Tony Wilson didn't sign The Smiths and The Roses (Gareth Evans being one - I apologise for swearing). Anyway back to this record - Bummed is one of the few albums produced within the Madchester era that can still hold its own. Maybe its due to Hanett's production or maybe just maybe the band had tapped into a vein of expression that all those that were there can close their eyes and go back any time they want to... No Comedians

    Matty The North
    With all due respect, I dont think you totally get where the mondays are coming from. This is a very original sound, still unlike anything today, you need to soak up the atmosphere and culture in 87/88. It took me a while before it clicked, I now think the first two albums are the best. It's a bit of a trout mask replica, needs 10 listens. I find the early live stuff, kuff dam etc incredible, some of which is on youtube. Paul Ryder is the major star in my book.

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    Pills Thrills And Bellyaches 6 ( 1990 )
    Kinky Afro / Gods Cop / Donovan / Grandbags Funeral / Loose Fit / Dennis And Lois / Bobs Yer Uncle / Step On / Holiday / Harmony

    Fact, the Shaun Ryder 'Black Grape' musical vehicle he was a leading part of after the Happy Mondays dissolved were a) far more commercially sucessful than Happy Mondays and b) received better reviews. For a brief period during late 89 and through most of 1990, The Happy Mondays rode a wave that The Stone Roses had created, that the music press had hyped and involved The Fall, Joy Division, New Order in. God, they'd even involved A Certain Ratio in this scene and they were always bloody awful. True, there was suddenly a buzz surrounding Manchester. True, The Charlatens, Inspiral Carpets, The High, The Farm, etc, etc - also benefitted from the buzz that surrounded Manchester during this time. Yet, it was The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays that were set-up to be The Beatles ( Stone Roses ) and The Rolling Stones ( Happy Mondays ) of the scene. But, whilst The Stone Roses had a great guitar player, great bass player, stupendous drummer.... The Happy Mondays didn't have a single great instrumentalist, relied heavily on remixes and their producers for their musical arrangements and also had Bez and Shaun Ryder. Bez and Shaun made for a terrific double act, Shaun had geezer lyrical flights of fancy. He looked like he took drugs and drank lots of beer. Hey, geezer!! Also, whilst the biggest Stone Roses singles were all original compositions by themselves, in fact all The Stone Roses singles were original, The Happy Mondays had their biggest hit and real breakthrough courtesy of a cover, their version of an old obscure song admittedly, but a cover all the same. 'Step On' was said song, complete with period '1990' video which now looks as hideously dated as Bay City Rollers videos did during the 1980s. Yet, 'Step On' was decent, very well arranged and produced and still raises a smile. The other two real big hits from this set were 'Kinky Afro' and 'Loose Fit'. 'Kinky Afro' sports great catchy guitar and terrific Shaun lyrical and vocal performances. 'Loose Fit' sounds a little stoned, but its mellow atmosphere is deliriously stoned, it's a good stoned. And, there you are.

    Elsewhere, past the singles? This album just sounds so dated. Sure, if you enjoyed it at the time it was released, it's gonna bring back this nostalgic glow and remind you of all the happy times you had. Sure, 'Gods Cop' has a decent groove and sure, 'Bobs Your Uncle' is five minutes of utter filler and sure 'Holiday' sounds worst than most album tracks by The Farm. Yet, it was The Happy Mondays that caught the publics imagination during 1990. Why, god only knows. I can't imagine it was for musical reasons. It pains me to listen to this album, shauns lyrical flights now sound simplistic, the album sounds over-produced and it sounds so utterly locked into the time frame from which it came. It lacks good musical writing. The lyrics are mostly fine and sure, Shaun is/was a character. But, is that enough? The Stone Roses reached the top 50 of the American album charts with zero airplay, hype or promotion. Purely through word of mouth about their brilliance. The Happy Mondays hype in the US was soon laughed at and the album barely scraped the top 100 over there. I like to think that's some kind of poetic justice. Oh, and 'Grandbags Funeral'? Shall we dissect this? Ah, I can't be arsed. Listen to it and you'll see what I mean. The oh so simple guitar lines, poor vocals and lack of ideas just makes it all the more surprising that the NME and other UK music publications so lauded The Happy Mondays at the time.

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    andrew andrewmart303@hotmail.com
    nPills n Thrills is and was a massive record both in the UK and in the States. Who cares if it ever scraped the top 100? That was all Vanilla Ice and Whitney Houston garbage anyway. Anything less then a (9) rating for this record is insulting. Get real.

    moseley frencare.1@virgin.net
    adrian,go review my aunties bus pass! You might have found yourself a subject which you at least half know about.The beauty of the mondays is that if you ask the genius himself what the songs mean he probably wouldnt know! I am a true music lover with more bloody albums than I know what to do with from sinatra to charlotte church. Luckily I am one of those people who enjoys a cream cake for its taste. Im not interested in the fucking recipe! The mondays are genius and shaun is god. The end.

    escobar drummaboy069@hotmail.com
    well,for a start,happy mondays were the spearheaders of the madchester scene ,not teh stone roses,..i never liked stone roses ..brilliant or not,happy mondays had an appeal far deeper than stone roses ever had ...shaun ryders lyrics,the bass lines and guitar riffs and even the drums ...kinky afro is ok,so is ride on and denis and lois...i actually found these tracks to be ok, but a little weak ,only compared to the classics, "gods cop" (the greatest song ive ever heard) donovan,(a beautifully constructed melody of funk) and grandbags funeral.(that guitar riff hits the spot) plus bobs yer uncle,harmony ,holiday and loose fir ..all brilliant songs ,,you sound like a stone roses fan ,,leave the happy mondays reveiws to people who realy apreciate good music ...wanker

    David Owens davidowens78@yahoo.com
    I will back you up on this one, Adrian! This album is mostly a rotter! Read any retrospective review of it in any music magazine and it will invariably glow. But that seems to be on the strength of about 3 of its songs, namely Step On, Kinky Afro (which is divine) and, at a push, Loose Fit. The rest is nowhere near as good. I bought the compilation Loads as my first Mondays record back in 1996, having already been familiar with the aforementioned songs, plus Wrote For Luck and Stinkin' Thinkin'. I thought it was OK, no more. Some thrilling moments but a lot of filler. Which is precisely how this album struck me when I finally bought it earlier this year (the cheap price softened the blow). You'll hear a lot of its adherents mention the "time and place" and the "memories", and tell you that "you really had to be there". And that may very well be true. But taken as a consumer artefact in the cold light of the early 21st century, this is a turkey. I vow to take as m! uch criticism as others will give me for saying this.

    Graham grahamtwyman@gmail.com
    Your review of Pills and Thrills and Bellyaches is utter bollocks. This album is a classic. It may sound a little dated in parts but it is still a great record. Happy Mondays were a shit hot band in 89/90. I dont understand why you are knocking them....

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    Yes Please 3 ( 1992 )
    Stinkin Thinkin / Monkey In The Family / Sunshine And Love / Dustman / Angel / Cut Em Loose Bruce / Theme From Netto / Love Child / Total Ringo / Cowboy Dave

    Well, isn't this the ultimate proof that Happy Mondays were always hugely overrated? They always relied hugely on producers. That's fact, not fiction. For this album, they debunked to sunny climes, got a couple of members of talking heads to produce, immediately a bad decision bearing in mind the group dynamic and produced an instrumental album. They delivered this instrumental album to factory records shortly before they went out of business. Nobody laughed. Later, when London Records bought out Factory, Happy Mondays albums weren't reissued. They've released what, four including this one? A greatest hits came out and 'Pills Thrills And Bellyaches' was usually available. Compare this to New Order or Joy Division, from whom London Records have made a fortune. Nobody really gave a toss about The Happy Mondays. One listen to 'Stinkin Thinkin' and an audience whom had loved 'Step On', a cover version remember, immediately left The Happy Mondays fanclub. That's loyalty for you! Compare that to The Stone Roses. After their first album, people were prepared to forgive them for almost anything. Their first album gave birth to the british music revival. That's important, timeless. The Happy Mondays were only ever fashionable.

    This particular album is pretty much terrible. Well, it's not actually, nothing is evil or annoying, just that every single song sounds like Shaun didn't even sing on it, didn't write lyrics for it and contains utterly forgettable melodies. I can confirm that Shaun sings on 'Cut Em Loose Bruce', a song that sounds like The Mondays decamped to Africa and all died from some kind of disease, leaving a producer to piece together the fragments whilst the funeral of all the band members took place at the same time. This is really a desperate piece of work. Every single Ian Brown solo album, every single Inspiral Carpets or Charlatens, album is better than this. Fact.

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    jeff jse@pd4webduval.coj.net
    i prematurely sent the last e-mail, but seriously, as AN ALBUM, this is the best happy mondays release, drugs, producers, and muck and all. sure, bummed and pills and thrills have some great songs but as a whole, kind of fall flat. at least this album has varied instrumentation and a certain flow to it. i dont care if the band members were smoking crack, they had something UNIFIED and i still enjoy this album immensely. reviewers are too caught up in the past to honestly review an album without selfish bias getting in the way. be realistic and see that you are on the happy mondays bashing bandwagon. bandwagons are usually lame. thank you.

    matchester ramble
    Love your website Adrian but you've lost it here. You can't like everything, of course, but its clear you don't even get the Mondays. So you get a lot very wrong: 'Madchester' didn't involve choosing between the Mondays and Roses - not in Manchester anyway. Most people loved both bands and were agreed on their very different qualities: the Roses obviously superior in traditional virtues of melody and musicianship but limited by that tradition, making by far the best album of the 1960s. The Mondays, on the other hand, absolutely owned what the Roses captured briefly with 'Fools Gold'. They threw it all in the mixer and out came magic that could only have come from them, in that place, at that time. Were they artfully placing inversions of suspended 7ths? No, they were simply eating lots of drugs, but the effect was no less artful, and the chords no less complex, and arguably less cliched. And Happy Mondays live were something else. I've only been been to better gi! gs by The Smiths.

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    Uncle Dyskfunktional 7 ( 2007 )
    Jellybean / Angels & Whores / Deviants / Rats With Wings / Cuntry Disco / In The Blood / Anti Warhole On The Dancefloor / Rush Rush / Uncle Dysfunktional / Dr Dick / Weather

    The producers here are Howie B and Sunny Levine who help this current lineup of Happy Mondays record their first material in fifteen years. What does it sound like? Well, it sounds happy, it sounds danceable, surprisingly modern and also containing a fair dose of randomness courtesy of Shaun. Some of the most random things the man has ever said has been set to music and credit to him, he was always able to create his own language. His voice has weathered particularly well, you can hear the beer on his voice, so to speak. Indeed, he seems to be moving towards another fellow Salford bard, Mark E Smith in terms of being able to / having to growl his vocals rather than sing them. That's ok, it adds something. No, none of the guys have grown up as a quick glance at the tracklisting will confirm. Then again, what fun would a grown up Happy Mondays be anyway? I shall say something at this juncture. It's difficult for me to even sit through a lot of modern indie music releases from beginning to end without getting bored. You'll notice a distinct lack of indie reviews lately, something i'm going to address beginning now. I've sat through 'Uncle Dysfunktional' several times in a row already, clearly a good thing. Oh, it's no masterpiece but it's probably the most listenable, cohesive and smart album the Happy Mondays have ever made. The lyrics can seem lazy at times, but as I said, I like the randomness it brings to proceedings. Lead track and single 'Jellybean' is as good an example as any of this. Now that i'm naked and a lady, it's good to feel my ass against the grass, it's good to press my tits to the floor. Um, indeed! Married to one of the best grooves the band has come up with since 'Pills Thrills and Bellyaches', 'Jellybean' certainly does it for me.

    'Deviants' is actually brilliant, something that's shocked me, but it's true. Shaun and unnamed guest vocalist sound seedy in the best way possible, it doesn't sound like a copy of other Happy Mondays songs whilst remaining clearly them. 'Rats With Wings' opens up with She's eating concrete man, she's eating concrete. The title track sounds like a potential single to me, great word-play. 'Cuntry Disco' harks back to Black Grape, although matches the better Black Grape material. All in all, a welcome return from Happy Mondays. It might not sell, but it's good they can play new material live to mix in with the old stuff now.

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    Danny Wildish Preston
    massive mondays fan, shaun is a genious can not believe this album has done a lot better. everyone round my age which is 35 bye the way loved pills and thrills, this album for me is not a million miles away i thought they would get at least three singles off it. not hundred percent sure what all the words are about,but when ever are you sure what shaun is singing about,everybody got on to twisting my mellon man so why cant all the old school cats like me get into his new stuff.its a brilliant first listen and it just grows on you go and bye it. day and nights a joke a joke am gonna build a fucking house next door to you.

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    this page last updated 10/04/11

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