MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2015
WEEK 40: MADCHESTER & BAGGY
In the winter of 1987, a few months after The Smiths broke up, an unexpected development began to take root within guitar dominated British indie culture. As acid house seeped into Britain via Ibiza, it brought with it an important chemical partner. Ecstasy was not entirely unknown in London, but when it hit the country en masse, the loved up communal E high represented as clean a break as possible with the me, me, me mantra of the Tory Reich. There was no longer a hankering for a present, shaped and molded by the past. Instead there was a sense of inclusion.
As rave swept the north-west, it found a permanent home in Manchester’s cavernous Hacienda, Factory Records and New Orders cash eating nemesis. Acid and rave culture was so different, so all-encompassing that it was always going to impact on indie rock and the Hacienda unwittingly acted as a cipher for that process. With its direct connection to one of the most renowned independent labels of all time, the club bridged the gap between indie rock and the new universe of ecstasy fuelled delirium. In the past indie rockers had sought a home excluded from the mainstream, but the Mancunian musicians busily chomping E’s in The Hacienda were the complete opposite. They embraced and were embraced by everyone.
Foremost amongst them were the brilliant Happy Mondays, best known for their prodigious drug intake and poet laureate Shaun Ryder’s skanky testimonies of junkie psycho-babble. In 1989, they were already champions of the indie dance crossover but after two unsuccessful albums of surreal magic they decided to go for broke on ‘W.F.L.’, rave DJ Paul Oakenfold’s remake of their flop single ‘Wrote For Luck’. The Stones Roses were equally enamored with The Hacienda scene but the effect on them was far more subtle, a very faint trace of E euphoria mixing with their Zeppelin, Byrds, Hendrix and growing funk influences. Both vintage and modern, The Roses self-titled debut album was praised to the heavens but it was the acid rock funk of ‘Fools Gold’ that encapsulated the true spirit of the times.
Released within months of each other, ‘W.F.L.’, ‘Fools Gold’ and ‘Loaded’, Andrew Weatherall’s dramatic deconstruction of Primal Scream’s ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’, irrevocably altered the destiny of guitar based, British indie by instilling a dance sensibility in previously rockist minds while offering the perfect lifeline to the earnest, indie kids fed up with sitting in their bedrooms listening to miserabalist rock while everyone else was getting out of it. Suddenly they had their own reason to fly!
But if those three records were the blueprint for all things Madchester and baggy, they were followed by a bunch of bandwagon jumpers and one hit wonders who managed to adopt the right rhythms but then opted for a clumsy retro populism similar to one time indie poppers the Soup Dragons and the fledgling Blur. The routing of what had once been such a massive game changer into such crassly populist cash-ins spoke volumes about baggy’s rapid decline. By the spring of 1991, less than 18 months after the Mondays and The Roses had become figureheads for the indie E generation, it had tumbled into oblivion, another disregarded footnote in the annals of modern music culture.
01 HAPPY MONDAYS ‘W.F.L.’ [Think About The Future Mix] (B Side September 1989)
02 THE STONE ROSES ‘Fools Gold’ (A Side November 1989)
03 PRIMAL SCREAM ‘Loaded’ (A Side February 1990)
04 THE CHARLATANS ‘The Only One I Know’ (A Side May 1990)
05 NORTHSIDE ‘Shall We Take A Trip’ (A Side May 1990)
06 JAMES ‘Come Home’ [Flood Mix] (A Side June 1990)
07 SHACK ‘I Know You Well’ (A Side July 1990)
08 THE SOUP DRAGONS ‘I’m Free’ (A Side July 1990)
09 THE REAL PEOPLE ‘Window Pane’ (A Side August 1990)
10 THE FARM ‘Groovy Train’ [3.30am Mix] (B Side September 1990)
11 NEW FAST AUTOMATIC DAFFODILS ‘Fishes Eyes’ (A Side September 1990)
12 WORLD OF TWIST ‘The Storm’ (A Side November 1990)
13 INSPIRAL CARPETS ‘Caravan’ (A Side March 1991)
14 THE MOCK TURTLES ‘Can You Dig It?’ (A Side March 1991)
15 BLUR ‘There’s No Other Way’ (A Side April 1991)
16 FLOWERED UP ‘Weekender’ (A Side April 1992)