by Patrick Stephens (PGS Parent)
Like so many boys I had an inherent fear of looking like a fish out of water on a disco dance floor. Whilst the girls would comfortably congregate around handbags, we were left like decorations around the walls chatting with friends. Our reprieve came with the last few songs in the 'slow dance' section, when we could waddle around in a circle, without fear as we embraced one of the girls as a partner. Overnight, this all changed for me as University took me to Manchester and the discovery of one of music's best kept secrets for many years. A club called the Hacienda, home to Factory Records and the Silvertone record label, was the spawning ground for a new brand of music that was to be instilled into this southerner forever.
Often described as 'music that taught boys to dance', 'Madchester' or 'the second summer of love', a brand of music emerged that was a mix of funk and psychedelic rock with a dance undertone. It remained very localised in the early years, yet dominated the city. Influenced by the attitude of bands like New Order, The Smiths, James and The Fall, a host of bands established themselves with a huge following in the city before 'baggy' music finally broke nationwide and, to a degree, worldwide in early 1990. It can be argued that this genre developed into Acid House and led to so much of today's music, particularly that of a dance nature. The sudden explosion out of Manchester even led to the city briefly being the most sought-after destination for university applications in the early 90s, replacing the usual bastions of Oxford and Cambridge.
The band most commonly associated with 'Madchester" were the Stone Roses, a combination of talented musicians and a singer, in Ian Brown, who was often described as the weak link. Whatever he lacked in traditional ability, he more than recouped in stage presence and sheer attitude. The distinctive bass lines of Mani, the inventive guitar genius of John Squire, and the funky rhythms of Reni, commonly regarded as one of the best technical drummers ever, led to a sound which, at times, did not even need a singer. It is therefore slightly ironic that, since the band split, Ian Brown has had the most successful musical career, whilst Mani moved on to create several iconic anthems with Primal Scream.
The Roses only made two albums before splitting, but, since that time, several people have sampled and remixed their tracks. Many have been used on television trailers and adverts. Bands can rarely make more than three good albums before appearing to go stale. There are some exceptions to the rule, but very few.
Legal wrangling with record companies and within the band denied us that final album. Other bands spawned from this period of time included Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald and, arguably the most controversial, The Happy Mondays. This music has crossed generations even to the extent that both Shaun Ryder and Bez from The Mondays have won 'I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here', a programme which does not identify with their traditional following. The recent announcement of the reforming of the Stone Roses led to a mad scramble for tickets for three festival-style gigs at Heaton Park in the summer of 2012. Such is the appeal of the return of a band whom many felt never achieved their full potential, that tickets sold out instantly and at a faster rate than those for the recent Take That tour. It has the potential to be a complete disaster, but somehow I don't think so. The promise of that "third' album will have many like me digging out those baggy jeans, hats and tie-dyed t-shirts once more. Regrettably, nature prevents me from sporting the shaggy 'bowl' haircut. Once again I will be able to rediscover that Manchester swagger, head dance and shuffle from side to side in complete confidence with 210,000 others. I am not a fish out of water, I am part of a colony of Emperor Penguins crossed with a nodding dog in the back of a car. I don't need to impress, it is for my pleasure, it is only me and the music in my tiny world.
I CAN ACTUALLY DANCE