Caught by the River

Happy Mondays '88

20th February 2010

Our man in Manchester, Mr Dave Rofe, sent me this you tube link yesterday. The heading in the e mail read “Fox ‘ead”, a nickname given to me twenty odd years ago by Bez when, whilst sporting way too much hair, I was publicist for Happy Mondays.

I got around a bit back then and the downside of the digital boom is the amount of times the words ‘Fox ‘ead’ appear in my in-box. I’m not embarrassed but I do open the link with a little trepidation knowing that someone is gonna say, “Is that really you? fucking hell!”. Well, this is one of them.
It’s an educational TV programme that was made in 1988 to enlighten young people into the business workings of a record label as they make and release a record. So far, so what. The good bit is that the label they chose as the subject was Factory and the record they chose was ‘Bummed’ by Happy Mondays. Genius.

I’d not been in the job long, in fact ‘Bummed’ was the first record I worked (I was press guy for the whole Factory label) though I did have previous with the band as a fan (and London gig promoter) and I knew their manager, Nathan McGough, from when he managed The Bodines, a band that had been signed to Creation when I worked there in the mid eighties. A big thing to point out here is that what you are gonna watch is PRE ‘Madchester’. This is very important.

Those in the know were already aware that the the Mondays had ‘it’. Tony Wilson certainly knew that they were an important group and you can see it in the film as you follow him from recording studio to production meeting to launch party (the bit where he pretends to be interested in the production costs is funny). What struck me while watching it is how innocent things were at that time and it brought back to me just how fucking great a band the Mondays were. Look at the live footage – from Dingwalls, London – incredible. We were so lucky to have them.

A year later, as we now know, things went mental. The city was re-branded. A culture was sold and innocence got lost. It got dark and greedy and before long it got boring. The sad thing is that now the Mondays get seen as a joke turn on the revival circuit instead of a very important group. It’s probably their own fault and they probably don’t care but I do. It was a real honour to do that job and I’m proud to say I was there. Hey, I even got a nickname off of Bez! (JB)

Part One.

Part Two