The band released their debut album in May 1987. The album, Squirrel & G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), was produced by John Cale and proved very popular with rock journalists who were paid by the word. Otherwise it was widely ignored.
In 1988, their second album of drug-fuelled dance music Bummed was released – once again to rave reviews.
Between the shambling Country Song (once titled Some Cunt From Preston) and the Ticket To Ride-infringing Lazyitis are eight cuts of pyschofunkedelia.
By 1989, Manchester (or ‘Madchester‘ as it was dubbed) had declared itself the independent Republic of Rave. The city was aswarm with kids in 24-inch flares and lilac garb, while record shops pumped out low-slung, baggy dance crossover grooves.
The Stone Roses released She Bangs The Drum and Shaun Ryder and Happy Mondays had become the talisman of a ‘movement’.
Recorded in Los Angeles, Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches (1990) entered the UK album charts at #1. Housed in a psychedelic collage of candy wrappers it contained the tracks Step On (the Mondays’ re-working of John Kongos’ He’s Gonna Step On You Again) and Kinky Afro (with a hook whipped wholesale from La Belle’s Lady Marmalade).
Of course, it all went horribly wrong. The band disappeared to the Bahamas where their producers Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth (from Talking Heads) tried their best to get Shaun to be more interested in recording than in smoking large amounts of crack.
The lacklustre album Yes Please! (1992) was the disappointing result. Factory Records went bankrupt – due, in part, to the spiralling costs of the album – and the Mondays split up shortly afterwards.
Shaun formed Black Grape and Bez wrote his autobiography.
Ryder, drummer Gaz Whelan, and the apparently indestructible Bez performed a comeback in 2007 with a new and surprisingly listenable album called Uncle Dysfunktional.
Bez’s father was a Detective Inspector. Ryder once described him as “a nasty fuckin’ high-ranking CID officer. A real nasty bastard”. After being thrown out of the house by his Dad, Bez spent two years living in a shed.
Paul ‘Horse’ Ryder
Mark ‘Cowhead’ Day
Paul ‘Knobhead’ Davis
Gary ‘No Arse’ Whelan
Mark ‘Bez’ Berry