100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #45 Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro

Released : 1990

So, with the benefit of too much hindsight, what exactly was the Happy Mondays’ legacy? Well, unless you count a good day out at Leeds United’s Elland Road Stadium and bankrupting their label Factory, it’s pretty hard to make much out. But what even some of their harshest critics don’t get is that mostly, this is the point; Shaun Ryder and co. weren’t made for pop stardom and the fact that they briefly achieved it was just as much down to serendipity as it was Tony Wilson’s Machiavellian scheming.

Business was never serious but it became business. After the recording their second album Bummed in the East Yorkshire market town of Driffield they decamped to the Capitol studio in LA for their third, Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches; Ryder at one point used Frank Sinatra’s microphone, whilst the band used opium he’d brought they’d mistakenly assumed was weed.

Kinky Afro was an attempt at conquering Top of The Pops, but purely on their terms. After a misleadingly benign intro, Mark Day’s snake charming riff framed an urban bard at the apex of his powers. “Son, I’m thirty”, Ryder philosophised, before adding “I only went with your mother ‘cos she’s dirty” in the direction of the anonymous mite. Such is life on top. Leave nothing permanent. Accept no responsibility. Make sure there are no witnesses. And be here for a good time, not a long one.

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