Monday, June 02, 2008

'Madchester': anything to glorify?

Drugs, gangs, bland tunes and what goes wrong when you hear about "musical revolutions" from the press

Anniversaries are a godsend when it comes to filling editorial gaps. Shock/horror, some magazines have remembered that it's now two decades since the days of "Madchester".

The headlines call it a 'musical revolution', but forgive us for saying the expression is used somewhat liberally.

If that's the yardstick, I suspect, soon they'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of Baddiel and Skinner doing Three Lions by branding it a true rock'n'roll watershed. Or they'll run a feature about the merits of Sabrina's Boys Boys Boys and the way she defined a "subculture".

Because, aside from the Stone Roses' overrated album and a couple of hummable Happy Mondays' tunes, all "Madchester" consisted of was gangsters taking over Manchester nightclubs, drug barons bogged down in territorial disputes, stabbings aplenty, drive-by shootings and people getting fucked out of their heads on E.

Cool, man. Oh yes. You read all those inside accounts that "the lads were all loved up", yawn, from lived-in, "street", "hip" people ("man"), giving away astounding anecdotes of foil wrappers, Shaun Ryder letting off a round of bullets, millions of pounds going down the drain in Barbados and "ecstasy casualties". And they talk about it as if they were all part of something messianic, a "collective revolution" in fact.

But if there was one, it meant absolutely nothing. Nothing that wasn’t swallowing chemicals and deforming your mouth for the remainder of the night.

As drug dealers proceeded to rake up millions on the back of armies of people sweating like paedophiles in a playground and gurning like hordes of zombies from Shaun of the Dead, Madchester's music remained a tiny dot in the background.

Were I a member of the Happy Mondays I'd find it extremely frustrating that my band is going to be remembered for geezers scoring heroin at 3am or getting shitfaced backstage while dealers are kneecapping each other. But I suppose some people are easily satisfied.

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