Happy Mondays

Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches (Elektra ’90) Rating: B+
Along with the far superior Stone Roses the leaders of the ecstasy fueled “Madchester” scene that also spawned other worthy bands such as Primal Scream, The Charlatans, and Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays were a short-lived band that never lived up to their lofty U.K. press clippings. What they had in their favor was good taste (the best song here, "Step On," is a reinterpretation of an old '70s song) and seductive dance melodies (the merging of psychedelic rock and danceable pop being the calling card of the main "Madchester" bands from the early '90s). In general, when they tried to loudly rock out they were much less successful; part of them obviously wanted to be The Rolling Stones, but unfortunately the only thing the two band’s really had in common was a thuggish mentality and shallow lyrics (less so in the Stones’ case). Their mellower, more melodic songs such as “Kinky Afro” (whose chorus is obviously inspired by Labelle's "Lady Marmalade"), “God’s Cop,” “Bob’s Yer Uncle,” and "Harmony," though repetitive, are hook-filled and easily enjoyable, while "Step On" is an occasionally annoying but largely inspired dance/gospel rock hybrid. However, the album as a whole has more valleys and quite frankly less memorable songs than I expected given its #1 placing in Melody Maker’s “Album Of The Year” critic poll. I suppose that the album is significant in that it defined a particular time and place that's fondly remembered by many, but there’s little importance to the album’s actual content, though if you can overlook the album's overblown reputation it does feature a handful of fine songs.

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