After Happy Mondays disbanded in 1992, most observers would have guessed that the group's leader, vocalist Shaun Ryder, would succumb to the myriad of drug addictions that hastened the breakup of the group. Instead of dying, Ryder recouped his strengths and came back with a new band, Black Grape, in the summer of 1995.
Black Grape’s debut album, ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight’ is a surreal, funky, profane, and perversely joyous album, overflowing with casual eclecticism and giddy humour. The new band was looser and grittier than the Mondays. Ryder’s sound was reinvigorated, creating bizarre rhymes that tie together junk culture, drug lingo, literary references, and utter nonsense.
One of Britain’s best wordsmiths Shaun Ryder’s lyrics have always been delightfully freewheeling, and full of multi-coloured imagery. Teaming up with Kermit ( ex Ruthless Rap Assassins) he now had a rapper on board with equal skills to bounce off. Even better, the music has deep grooves and catchy pop hooks that come straight out of left field. From the blaring harmonica of the triumphant "Reverend Black Grape" and the trippy sitars of "In the Name of the Father" to the seedy, rolling "Shake Your Money" and the stinging guitars of "Tramazi Parti.”
Whilst the memory of the Happy Mondays, has been kept alive by its various members extra musical curricular activities, Black Grape has always been the simmering stalking horse, waiting in the wings, for a time to come back to life, and remind people of the huge commercial and musical celebration that it was.
So we’re delighted to report that Black Grape are back on the road, and with new album Pop Voodoo that really does rock the fuck out of the discotheque. It’s a rewind to over twenty years ago and the glory days.
“The world is in a bit of a state right now, and bullshit reigns more than ever, and perversely disguised as candour,” Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh wrote in a new statement praising the band. “We need Manc street sass, intelligence and wit more than ever right now. This album has that in spades.”