Greatest Hits

Of course, it's shoddy....

Of course, it’s shoddy. Expecting the Mondays‘ comeback to be anything other than an ethically vacuous cash-in is a bit like asking crocodiles to go vegetarian. For the self-righteous, there’s plenty to moan about here. There are no new songs, two lamentable cover versions and the art work is the ‘Wrote For Luck’ sleeve with ‘Greatest Hits’ embossed on it. A classy labour of love, this isn’t.

Almost identical to their last greatest hits package (1995’s ‘Loads’, sunk without trace at Number 41), it gives you the singles, a few B-sides and half the story. For a group of this importance, one up there with The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, the Pistols, the [I]greats[/I], you might reasonably have expected an anthology, certainly something broader than this.

While The Stone Roses were cross-pollinating The Byrds with Ecstasy, the Mondays were creating nu psychedelia a decade before anyone at [I]NME [/I]had even noticed. Their sound, a chemically warped asylum of Ibizan club culture, Joy Division records, gospel, Funkadelic riffs and Old Trafford euphoria, should never have fitted together – but it did. Maybe it was because they always had the courage of their convictions. They’d try anything once.

Lest we forget, in seven chaotic years they were remixed by Erasure, employed Kirsty MacColl as a backing singer, turned ‘Ticket To Ride’ into ‘Lazyitis’, released an album called ‘Squirrel And G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)’, worked with John Cale, producer Martin Hannett and members of Talking Heads, hung out with Donovan and made three albums of inspired, lunatic genius. Without them, there would have been no ‘Screamadelica’, no Beta Band and certainly no chart success for The Soup Dragons. Like we said, this compilation only tells half the story.

Half, though, is better than none. The 15 tracks featured here show you how these gonzo drug gibbons stumbled from the scratchy death disco of ’24 Hour Party People’ to the Detroit electro of ‘Wrote For Luck’, and from the dense, echoing psychedelia of ‘Mad Cyril’ to the joyous house inspiration of ‘Step On’ and ‘Kinky Afro’. It also makes you realise that even by the time of their ill-fated finale, ‘…Yes Please!’ and its singles – ‘Judge Fudge’ and ‘Stinkin’ Thinkin” – they were still capable of a chaotic inspiration above and beyond anything their peers had to offer. Less palatable are the inclusion of the abysmal ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and their freeform reconstruction of The Bee Gees‘ ‘Stayin’ Alive’. It wasn’t always genius. Just mostly.

So yes, this album stinks. Thing is, though, it stinks good.