Submitted by Robin Blackburn
Along with the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays were the best known of the ‘Madchester’ bands. And, like the Roses, they had been playing in the Greater Manchester area since the mid-80s with little success, before suddenly grabbing the public’s attention in 1988/89. The initial line-up of Shaun Ryder (vocals), his brother Paul (bass), Mark Day (guitar), Paul Davis (keyboards) and Gary Whelan (drums), was augmented by Bez (real name Mark Berry) who joined the band on stage as a dancer/percussionist. Indeed, it was the dance element that made the band stand out, their mix of dance and funk rhythms with indie guitars appealing to a variety of fans from ravers to the NME-reading indie kids.
The band’s first single was released in 1985, but it was another couple of years before their John Cale-produced debut album - with its ridiculously long title of ‘Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)’ - introduced them to the general public. Next year’s ‘Bummed’ was another step forward, as was a re-mix of that album’s ‘Wrote for Luck’: the mix, by Erasure’s Vince Clarke, emphasised the band’s connection to acid house and dance music in general.
By now, ‘Madchester’ was in full swing, with the Mondays’ next single ‘The Madchester Rave On’ EP reaching number 19. This resulted in a memorable ‘Top of the Pops’ episode on 23rd of November 1989 with the Stone Roses and the Mondays appearing on the same programme. The Mondays’ next album, ‘Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches’ (1990), saw the band reaching the peak of their popularity. It wasn’t to last, however, and by the end of 1991, the whole ‘Madchester’ scene was running out of steam. The Monday’s last album, 1992’s ‘Yes Please!’ - recorded at great expense in the Bahamas while record label Factory were in financial straits, amid rumours of in-fighting and excessive drug use - proved to be a disappointing finale.
After the band split, Shaun Ryder and Bez made two albums with Black Grape, before reforming the Mondays - without Paul Davis and Mark Day - in 1999. They played live but only recorded one single before splitting again the following year. The band reformed again in 2004 - this time without Paul Ryder too - and have been toured and recorded a new album, ‘Unkle Dysfunktional’ (2007).