Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Madchester was a music scene that developed in Manchester, England, towards the end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s. The music that emerged from the scene mixed alternative rock, psychedelic rock and dance music. Artists associated with the scene included New Order, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, 808 State, James, The Charlatans, A Guy Called Gerald and other notable bands. At that time, The Haçienda nightclub was a major catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city that was called the Second Summer of Love.
The music scene in Manchester immediately before the Madchester era had been dominated by bands such as The Smiths, New Order and The Fall and James. These bands were to become a significant influence on the Madchester scene.
The opening of the Haçienda nightclub, an initiative of Factory Records, in May 1982 was also influential in the development of popular culture in Manchester. For the first few years of its life, the club played predominantly club orientated pop music with an edge, Blancmange, Sade, Blue Rondo A La Turk, Clint Eastwood & General Saint, Gil Scott Heron, J Walter Negro & The Loose Jointz, New Order, Arthur Baker stuff like The Jonzun Crew, The Cure, Human League, Grace Jones and hosted gigs from artists including New Order, Culture Club, The Thompson Twins, and the Smiths. It had quite a radical dance orientated albeit trendy club stance music policy wise from the start with DJs such as Hewan Clarke and Greg Wilson (later to manage Ruthless Rap Assassins) playing big Funk tunes and early Electro Shannon's Let The Music Play, Keymatic Breaking In Space etc, switching focus from being a live venue to being a dance club by 1986. ( This is factually incorrect). In 1987 The Hacienda started catching on to the underground sounds of House music as it seeped out of the Jazz Funk All-dayer scene with DJs Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and "Little" Martin Prendergast hosting the Nude night on Fridays. Much of the dance influence in the Hacienda club came from the closure of such clubs in Manchester as 'The Gallery' and 'Rock Da House' at the Number One club in Manchester a regular night put on by young DJ and producer Johnny Jay which brought forth artists such as 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald, Chad Jackson, Ruthless Rap Assassins, MC Tunes, MC BuzzB, Chapter&The Verse, with a dance crowd looking for somewhere to go on a Friday and Saturday night, so the audience influenced the DJs at the Hacienda with their tastes for more and more dance music. The Festival of the Tenth Summer in July 1986, organised by Factory Records, helped to consolidate Manchester's standing as a centre for alternative pop-culture. The festival included film-screenings, a music seminar, art shows and gigs by the city's most prominent bands, including an all-day gig at Manchester G-Mex featuring A Certain Ratio, The Smiths, New Order and The Fall. According to Dave Haslam, the festival demonstrated that "the city had become synonymous with ... larger-than-life characters playing cutting edge music ... Individuals were inspired and the city was energised; of it's [sic] own accord, uncontrolled" although Manchester was already fully energised.
The Haçienda went from making a consistent loss to consistently packed out by early 1987. During 1987, it hosted performances by American house artists including Frankie Knuckles and Adonis., although most of these artists had already been played extensively and appeared at the country's Jazz - Funk all dayers , including Rock City in Nottingham, 20th Century Club Derby Manchester's International 2 ( Carousel Club as it was then called)and Birmingham Hummingbird. Other clubs in the Manchester area started to catch on to House music including Devilles, Isadora's, Konspiracy, House, Soundgardens and Man Alive in the city centre, Bugsy's in Ashton-under-Lyne and the Osbourne Club in Miles Platting.
Another key factor in the build-up to Madchester was the sudden availability of the drug ecstasy in the city, beginning in 1987 and growing exponentially the following year. According to Dave Haslam: "Ecstasy use changed clubs forever; a night at the Haçienda went from being a great night out, to an intense, life changing experience".
During 1988, Acid House and early Balearic House became popular in London and the South East , which for two years had ignored House music , which was already being played at mainstream disco type clubs all over the North and Midlands. In early 1989, New Order released the house-influenced Technique, which topped the UK album charts.
Artists' early careers
Although the Madchester scene cannot really be said to have started before the autumn of 1988 (the term "Madchester" was not coined until a year after that by Philip Shotton who directed many music videos for Factory Records), many of its most significant bands and artists were around on the local scene long before then.
The Stone Roses were formed in 1984 by singer Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire, who had grown up on the same street in Timperley, a leafy suburban area of Altrincham, a town to the south of Manchester. They had been in bands together since 1979, when they were both 16, but the Stone Roses was the first to release a record, "So Young", in 1985. The line-up was completed by Alan "Reni" Wren on drums and, from 1987, Gary "Mani" Mounfield on bass.
Happy Mondays were formed in Salford in 1985. The members between then and the break-up of the band in 1992 were Shaun Ryder, his brother Paul, Mark "Bez" Berry, Paul Davis, Mark Day and Gary Whelan. They were signed to Factory Records, supposedly after Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering saw them at a Battle of the Bands contest in which they came last (the winners being Manchester band The Brigade). They released two singles - "45", produced by Pickering in 1985, and "Freaky Dancin'", produced by New Order's Bernard Sumner in 1986 - before putting out an album produced by John Cale and bearing the snappy title Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) in 1987.
Inspiral Carpets were formed in Oldham, Greater Manchester in 1986. The line-up was Clint Boon (organ), Stephen Holt (vocals - Tom Hingley would not join up until the beginning of 1989), Graham Lambert (guitar), Martyn Walsh (bass) and Craig Gill (drums). They released a flexi-disc a year later, and in 1988 the Planecrash EP (on their own Cow Records) brought them to the attention of John Peel.
James were formed in 1981 by Paul Gilbertson and Jim Glennie (after whom the band was named), recruiting Drama student Tim Booth on vocals and Gavan Whelan on drums (Gilbertson and Whelan were to leave the band before it attained commercial success). They released their first EP, Jimone on Factory Records in 1983, and attracted critical enthusiasm, as well as the patronage of Morrissey. However, sales of their two albums for Sire Records, Stutter in 1986 and Strip-mine in 1988, were disappointing and, at the time Madchester hit, the band was using t-shirt sales to fund its own releases through Rough Trade Records and a live album called 'One Man Clapping' on Rough Trade Records , who early in 1989 put out the original Version of Sit Down. Madchester helped bring them their belated commercial success and the single "Sit Down" became one of the most popular anthems of the era.
808 State were formed in 1988 by the owner of the Eastern Bloc Records shop on Oldham Street, Martin Price, together with Graham Massey and Gerald Simpson. The three put together an innovative live acid house set, performing at various venues around town, and releasing an acclaimed and influential album Newbuild on Price's own label. Simpson left soon after the release of Newbuild, but went on to record as A Guy Called Gerald.
In October 1988, the Stone Roses released "Elephant Stone" (produced by Peter Hook of New Order although its believed it was in fact produced by Barney Sumner) as a single. Around the same time, Happy Mondays released the single "Wrote for Luck" (followed by the Bummed album, produced by Martin Hannett, in November). In November, A Guy Called Gerald released his first solo single, "Voodoo Ray".
Only "Voodoo Ray" was a commercial success (although "Elephant Stone" later made the UK top 10), but by December, a sense had started to develop in the British music press that there was something going on in the city. According to Sean O'Hagan, writing in the NME: "There is a particularly credible music biz rumour-come theory that certain Northern towns—Manchester being the prime example—have had their water supply treated with small doses of mind-expanding chemicals ... Everyone from Happy Mondays to the severely disorientated Morrissey conform to the theory in some way. Enter A Guy Called Gerald, out of his box on the limitless possibilities of a bank of keyboards".
The Stone Roses' following increased as they gigged around the country and released the "Made of Stone" single in February 1989. This did not chart, but enthusiasm for the band in the music press intensified when they released their debut album (produced by John Leckie) in March.Terry Christian , a double Sony Award winning radio presenter (best Specialist music show 1985 and 86) had returned to Manchester on Key 103 in October 1988 and was broadcasting a three hour show every week day night, 6pm-9pm and Sunday afternoon's 2pm-5pm with 100% free choice of what he played and immediately started playing the local Manchester bands on his show with abandon. The Stone Roses , Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets , A Guy Called Gerald , 808 State, James, Johnny Dangerously ( John Bramwell of I Am Kloot), MC Buzz B ( on Dave Haslam's Playhard record label), The Waltones ( including Mark Collins now Of The Charlatans)alongside big releases by De La Soul (3 Feet High And Rising) , The Pixies (Dolittle), Soul II Soul (Club Classics) and on Friday night would have Hacienda DJs Mike Pickering and Graeme Park on his show playing the records they would be giving first spins to that night at The Hacienda . There was also a long running Manchester Music show presented by Phil Korbel (of band Dubsex) called Meltdown on BBC Radio Manchester , and Tony Michaelides 'Last Radio Show' also on Key 103 and together with Sarah Champion's Word Page in the Manchester Evening News (taken over by Terry Christian in September 1989) and Anthony H Wilson's 'Other Side Of Midnight' show on Granada TV, it meant the media in Manchester was saturated by this new sound, so much so that the week the Stone Roses debut album was released it outsold copies of Disintegration by The Cure and Simple Minds new album collectively by a ratio of 3-1 in Manchester record shops.
Bob Stanley (later of Saint Etienne), reviewing the Stone Roses album in Melody Maker wrote: "this is simply the best debut LP I've heard in my record buying lifetime. Forget everybody else. Forget work tomorrow". The NME did not put it quite so strongly, but reported nonetheless that it was being talked of as "the greatest album ever made". John Robb in Sounds said "The Stone Roses have revolutionised British Pop".
The club scene in Manchester continued to grow during 1988 and 1989, with Haçienda launching Ibiza-themed nights in the summer of 1988 and the Hot acid house night (hosted by Mike Pickering and Jon DaSilva) in November of the same year.
In May, the Happy Mondays released the single "Lazyitis" and the Inspiral Carpets put out their first single with new singer Tom Hingley, "Joe". Like the Stone Roses, the Inspiral Carpets were producing sixties-inspired indie music and 808 State mini album including the A Guy Called Gerald collaboration , Pacific State was being played in clubs all over the country . All Four of the main players in the emerging scene took a dance influence, particularly from 1970s funk, with disco basslines and wah-wah guitar mixing with their indie jingle-jangle. The Inspiral Carpets added the sound of the Farfisa organ.
This sound, which was to become known as "baggy", generally includes a combination of funk, psychedelia, guitar rock and house music. In the Manchester context, the music can be seen as mainly influenced by the indie music that had dominated the city's music scene during the 1980s, but also absorbing the various influences coming through the Haçienda.
Alongside the music, a way of dressing emerged that gave baggy its name. Baggy jeans (often flared) alongside brightly coloured or tie-dye casual tops and general sixties style became fashionable first in Manchester and then across the country - frequently topped off with a fishing hat in the style sported by the Stone Roses drummer Reni. The over all look was part rave, part retro or part hippie, part football casual. Many madchester bands had football casual fans and a number of bands even wore football shirts. Shami Ahmed's Manchester-based Joe Bloggs fashion label specialised in catering for the scene, making him a multi-millionaire.
The baggy sound influenced numerous Greater Manchester bands including James, The Charlatans (Who formed in Birmingham) and The Mock Turtles. However, in the early 1990s the sound spread across the country, with bands such as The Farm, Flowered Up, Candy Flip and Blur treading where Mancunians had gone before.
Dave Haslam notes that the interest of the press in the baggy scene skewed impressions of the Madchester scene. In Manchester, electronic dance music was prevalent in the clubs, and the scene also gave a home to hip-hop artists Ruthless Rap Assassins, Hybrid and MC Tunes.
During mid-1989, media interest in the Manchester scene continued to grow. In September, the Happy Mondays released a Vince Clarke remix of "Wrote for Luck" as a single. In November, four important singles were released: "Move" by the Inspiral Carpets, "Pacific" by 808 State, The Madchester Rave On EP by the Happy Mondays and "Fools Gold"/"What the World is Waiting For" by the Stone Roses.
The Happy Mondays record, featuring the lead track "Hallelujah!", coined the term "Madchester" - it had originally been suggested by their video directors the Bailey Brothers as a potential t-shirt slogan.
In November, the Stone Roses performed a gig at London's Alexandra Palace which was a nightmare , with 8000 fans and only 2 bar staff, and were invited onto BBC2's high-brow Late Show (remembered by many because the electricity cut out during their performance and they stormed off). On 23 November 1989, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays appeared on the same edition of Top of the Pops. The "Fools Gold" single made number 8 in the UK singles chart, becoming the biggest-selling indie single of the year.
Madchester became something of an industry bandwagon from this time. According to NME journalist Stuart Maconie, the British press had "gone bonkers over Manchester bands". James were amongst the first beneficiaries of this. The local success of their self-financed singles "Come Home" and "Sit Down" led to a deal with Fontana, and they were to score chart hits with "How Was it For You" and a re-recorded version of "Come Home" in the summer of 1990.Having said that , it was James and the atomosphere at their gigs throughout the 1980s in Manchester who first created the idea of 'The Gig' as an event.
The Charlatans were originally from the West Midlands and known then as 'Making Time', but their singer, Tim Burgess, was from Northwich in Cheshire although born and raised in Salford. They came to prominence through appearances in Manchester, particularly as a support act to the Stone Roses and became strongly associated with the scene. They released a debut single "Indian Rope" in October 1989 and their second "The Only One I Know" made the UK top ten.
In August 1990 , Channel 4's Youth/light Entertainment department launched a new Friday night Show called ' The Word', and due to the furore over Madchester appointed specialist music radio presenter Terry Christian as its Host and even had 808 State compose and play the shows Theme Tune. The Show which was a huge success gave live TV appearances to a host of Manchester bands including ' World Of Twist performing The Storm , The Happy Mondays , The Charlatans, Loveland, Family Foundation, The Inspiral Carpets, Eskimos & Egypt, MC Tunes, Marion, Intastella (who appeared on the same show as Nirvana's European TV debut with "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), The Kaleefs, MC Buzz, Sub Sub (later Doves), and also the TV debut of a little known Manchester band called 'Oasis'. Never before had Manchester artists had such a direct line onto National Television.
A number of other Manchester bands gained the attention of the music press during 1990, including World of Twist, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, The High, Northside, Paris Angels, and Intastella. These "second wave" bands, according to John Robb, "copped the critical backlash, but were making great music". and they also received a great deal of local support with TV appearances on various Granada shows and local radio play on Key 103, KFM in Stockport and BBC Radio Manchester's Meltdown show.
Bands associated with the Madchester scene released material almost exclusively on indie records labels, with the significant exception of James, who signed to Fontana Records in 1989.
The main Madchester bands dominated the UK Indie Charts during late 1989 and much of 1990.
The success in the UK Singles and Albums charts of a number of indie acts associated with a "scene" was unprecedented at the time. "Step On" and "Kinky Afro" by the Happy Mondays both made number 5 in the singles charts, whilst James scored the biggest Madchester hit, making number 2 in 1991 with a re-recording of "Sit Down". In the album charts, the Happy Mondays made number 4 with Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, and the Inspiral Carpets got to number 2 with Life. The Charlatans were the only Madchester band to take the number 1 spot, with the album Some Friendly in the autumn of 1990.
Outside the UK, the success of Madchester was limited, although some releases gained recognition in specialist charts around the world. In the U.S., the albums The Stone Roses, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches and Some Friendly reached the lower echelons of the U.S. album chart. Several singles by The Stone Roses, The Inspiral Carpets, The Happy Mondays and The Charlatans were successful on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The Happy Mondays toured the US in 1990 and were the only Madchester band to have a single enter the Billboard Hot 100 when "Step On" reached #57 in 1990. They also reached #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, with "Kinky Afro" in 1990. The only other Madchester artist to reach #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart was The Charlatans, whose single "Weirdo" was #1 for the week of 23 May 1992.
On 27 May 1990, the Stone Roses performed at Spike Island in Widnes, Cheshire, supported by DJs Frankie Knuckles, Phonso Buller, Dave Haslam, and Dave Booth. This concert has been described as a "Woodstock for the E generation.
A rapid succession of chart hits followed during the summer, including "One Love" by the Stone Roses, "This Is How It Feels" by the Inspiral Carpets, "The Only One I Know" by The Charlatans and "Kinky Afro" by the Happy Mondays.
The end of the year saw triumphal concerts by James and a double-header with the Happy Mondays and 808 State, both at Manchester G-Mex.
The Stone Roses cancelled their June 1990 tour of the US, issuing a press statement saying: "America doesn't deserve us yet".; however, their debut album sold more than 350,000 copies in the U.S. that year. The band also cancelled a gig in Spain and an appearance on the U.K. chat show Wogan. They did not face the public again until the end of 1994, spending the intervening time in and out of studios in Wales—where they recorded a second album, Second Coming -- and fighting in court to release themselves from their contract with Silvertone Records.
The making of the next Happy Mondays album, Yes Please! was also problematic, and it would not be released until October 1992. The band flew to Barbados to record it, where they went "crack crazy", according to Paul Ryder, making repeated requests of Factory Records for extra time and additional funds. This is reputed to have been the major factor in the bankruptcy of the label in November 1992.
With the two bands seen as the most central to the scene out of action, media fascination with Madchester dwindled. James, Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans and 808 State continued to record, with varying degrees of success, during the 1990s, but ceased to be seen as part of a localised scene.
Local bands catching the tail-end of Madchester, such as The Mock Turtles, became part of a wider baggy scene. The music press in the U.K. began to place more focus on shoegazing bands from the south of England and bands emerging through the U.S. grunge.
The immediate influence of Madchester was in inspiring the wider baggy movement in the UK, with bands from various parts of the country producing music in the early 1990s heavily influenced by the main Madchester players. These bands included Flowered Up (from London), The Farm and The Real People (from Liverpool), The Bridewell Taxis (from Leeds), the Soup Dragons (from Glasgow) and Ocean Colour Scene (from Birmingham). Blur, from Colchester, adopted a baggy style in their early career, although in an interview with Select Magazine in 1991 they claimed to have "killed" the genre.
Bands formed in Manchester during the Madchester era included the Chemical Brothers, Verve, Sub Sub (who would later become Doves) and Oasis (Noel Gallagher had been a roadie for Inspiral Carpets).
More generally, the Madchester scene brought together dance music and alternative rock, in particular the combination of the types of drumming found in funk and disco music (and sampled in 80s hip-hop music) with jingle-jangle guitar. In the 1990s, this became a commonplace formula, found frequently in even the most commercial music.
From a marketing point of view, it has been suggested that Madchester taught the music industry a number of lessons in the selling of alternative music, serving as a model for the more commercially-driven Britpop and grunge scenes in the UK and US respectively.
Impact on Manchester
The mushrooming of Manchester's nightlife during the Madchester period has had a long-term impact, particularly with the subsequent development of the Gay Village and Northern Quarter. City centre living is also something that began to catch on in Manchester in the wake of Madchester, and which continues to this day.
The attraction of the city was such that, at the height of Madchester in 1990, the University of Manchester was the most sought-after destination for university applicants in the UK, a position shared year-on-year by Oxford and Cambridge in the normal course of things.
The scene also gave a boost to the city's media and creative industries. Channel 4 already had great success with 'The Word' and in its wake The BBC launched The 8:15 From Manchester, a Saturday morning kids' TV show (with a themetune by the Inspiral Carpets, a re-write of "Find out Why")and Granada Television also jumped on the bandwagon with a cheaper version of The Word , called 'Juice' presented by John Bramwell and Joan Collins' daughter Tara Newley.
Organised crime became an unfortunate side-story to Madchester, with the vibrancy of the clubbing scene in the city (and the popularity of illegal drugs, particularly ecstasy) producing a fertile environment for gangsterism. During the 1990s, shootings becoming regular in areas such as Moss Side, Cheetham Hill, Salford and Longsight, and occurring from time to time in the city centre. Violent incidents at the Haçienda led to a campaign against it by Greater Manchester Police, and contributed to its closure in 1997.
The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, 808 State and James are amongst the bands commemorated on a Manchester "walk of fame" commissioned for Oldham Street in the city's Northern Quarter at the end of the 1990s.
Depiction in film
Michael Winterbottom's 2002 film 24 Hour Party People follows the story of Tony Wilson and Factory Records, including the Madchester period and the Happy Mondays' success.