It was blue bloodied, it had a pedigree, it was pure; it came from the same life-force that gave us Teddy Boys, Mods, Skinheads and Punks; it was perhaps the final huzzah of Rock ‘N Pop; it was of course Madchester, the musical explosions that grew into the Baggy Scene before dying, like all good things, a premature death.
If sixty seven was the summer of love then eighty seven was the second coming. It was different though for rather than being fuelled by LSD this generation’s drug of choice was the phenomenon known as E. Gone was the Hippie hugging tree nonsense replaced by an edge reminiscent of punk but without the aggression. The desire to have hedonistic fun was the same though even if the music was different. The jingly-jangly wah-wah guitar sound returned but this time backed by a funky disco driven beat.
It started out Madchester for that is where it originated: Manchester but it ended up being part of the Baggy Scene. Clothes were very much a part of that era. They were not created by some designer though for these clothes were selected and fashioned by the youth that wore them. The bands wore the same thing, there was no us and them it was one mind-set as had been with the Mods and Punks that came before. The 'stars' on stage looked just like the audience. T shirts were tie-dyed and bright, jeans were baggy and flared but at the end of the day the one thing that mattered was the music.
Core to the propulsive sounds that filled the radio airwaves were two bands: The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays. They were, effectively, The Beatles and Stones of their time and where they led so others followed. In their wake came James, The Charlatans, The Inspiral Carpets and The Mock Turtles who were soon joined by other acts who were not even from Manchester: The Farm being one such group.
It was a highly creative time especially as this was not just another guitar, hormone driven repeat of the sixties or even, like the early seventies, a continuation of the previous decades legacy, this was two or even three musical sub genres merging together to create something wonderfully original.
It lasted, much like punk and the Bowie/Roxy 72/73 Glam phase, for only two years. It started in late 87 and by 1990 it was gone. Blur of course used its sound on their first single. Even the media tried to regenerate that whole generational movement by inventing the bogus ‘Brit Pop’ scene, and as good as that was, it never quite achieved the same meteoric burn and die that Madchester/Baggy had but then again, as Neil Young once famously sung, “It’s better to burnout than to fade away.”
Something’s though last forever in the mind. That drug driven, Acid House meets Funky Disco meets Psychedelia framed the rest of the nineties with its Harrisonesque, McQuin sparkly guitar sound that was so beautifully typified on “Waterfall.” Yes, I liked the Baggy scene. It felt like the spirit of youth rather than that awful bedwetting, shoe gazing, pseudo intellectual claptrap that muffles so much modern music.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.