Friday, 2 May 2008

HAPPY MONDAYS: Twenty Four Hour Party People


In times of extreme desperation, and particularly at times when Tory Britain looms on the horizon like a half-expected iceberg, shouting nonsense very loudly at whatever deems itself to be authority is sometimes great defence and attack at the same time. Thus Ryder's anti-incantation, doing its best to avoid Thatcher's Britain, reigns as radiantly as it did 21 years ago, as well as being one of that rare-ish breed of album title tracks which do not actually appear on their parent albums.

Sounding like Peter Kay locked overnight in a Bolton basement with the Teardrop Explodes - all Lost In Space synths and boldly nervous, jittery quarter-funk guitars - and half a Sherbert Fountain for company, Ryder immediately drawls an accusatory mirror image at Middle England, a raygun from the North West: "How old are you? Are you old en-UFF? Should you beeeeeee-in-heeeeere watching THAT?!"

The song is also an early nod and welcome to Acieed culture, even if we were still some 18 months away from the final bonding (the Vince Clarke remix of "W.F.L.") - the Mondays bouncing on concrete trampolines but so far gone they believe themselves to be surfing rainbows: "You can't be beaten! So why don't you join in?," Shaun always there to welcome us. Demanding an end to forced abstinence, Ryder exclaims with some element of compassion "I can see you through the door - you've been chewing on bread and water/And there's a GRUDGE on you you know you not ought to have!" "Put that mother to bed," he commands as the party in their heads begins to dance of its own accord.

After one final bid for freedom - "Press the pause on the self-destruct!" - the music booms into a strange but logical Afrobeat section ("WHITE OUT!") before hurtling back to the descending echoes of increasing ecstasy. "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-365-all-the-time!" Ryder chants as the producer (one Dave Young) proceeds gradually to bury him in echo and reverb. Joyful, messy, ardent and stalwart, this should have been a number one but in a 1987 of Curiosity Hates Bruce Willis such an event was still some years forthcoming. It still sounds, especially today, like a garishly demonstrative dance of protest and pride at an encroaching nullity which can neither reach nor subdue them.

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