Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Mondays - Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches (1990)

Happy Mondays - Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches

A swirling, neo-psychedelic kaleidoscope of hallucinogenic drugs, trippy beats, borrowed hooks, and veiled threats, Pills 'n' Thrills & Bellyaches is Happy Mondays' masterpiece and the peak of the entire Madchester craze. Where the Stone Roses were pop classicists, Happy Mondays pushed pop into the ecstasy age. The Mondays' cut-and-paste rhythms and melodies are clearly influenced by hip-hop and electronic dance music, and their songs have the same sort of twisted internal logic, subverting conventional pop song structures while reinterpreting oldies, occasionally stealing entire songs and claiming them as their own (John Kongos' "He's Gonna Step On You Again" is transformed into "Step On," LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" provides the basis for "Kinky Afro"). Most of the musical collage is the creation of producers Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne, but the vision of Pills 'n' Thrills & Bellyaches belongs to Shaun Ryder, who reveals himself as a surreally gifted lyricist. Lifting melodies at will, Ryder paints a bizarre vision of modern urban life, fueled by sex, drugs, violence, and dead-end jobs -- and instead of lamenting the state of affairs, he celebrates them in his hoarse, arrhythmic, tuneless holler. His thuggishly surreal sense of humor and appropriation of hooks became enormously influential on British rock & roll in the '90s, particularly on Oasis' sense of style.
~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

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