Album #227: Happy Mondays – Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)

  • Released: 1987
  • Origin: Salford, England
  • Label: Factory
  • Best Track: Russell

I always think of Happy Mondays as a ’90s band, but they were in fact formed as early as 1980, and by 1990 were on their third album.

Their mission statement came in 1987 with this ridiculously titled album (I’m not typing the name out again!), which sees the boys cut their teeth with their idiosyncratic indie/funk riffs, narcotic and yobbish vocals, and often surreal lyrics (this album starts with “If you’ve got to be told by someone then it’s got to be me/
And that’s not made from cheese and it doesn’t get you free.”)

Aside from Hacienda anthem ’24 Hour Party People’, what it perhaps lacks in comparison with its follow-ups Bummed (1988) and Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches (1990) is memorable tunes. Still, it has its moments and is worth persevering with.

I find ‘Russell’ really infectious, carried throughout by a spiky guitar strike and spidery bass line. I’d say there’s more actual singing from Shaun Ryder than I’ve heard on other Mondays records, as opposed to his trademark boozy spewing. It’s most notable on ‘Olive Oil’, and we even get a spot of falsetto on ‘Little Matchstick Owen’.

It’s a textbook three-out-of-five album for me, but you can see that there was something special there and can understand how they built on it.

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