Various Artists : Shaun Ryder’s Planet Groove

Voted the most fucked-up interviewee in NME history, Ryder now releases the soundtrack to his life...

The fantasy Shaun Ryder compilation album would be a blazing, profane, madcap orgy of skunk, funk, disco-punk, hardcore rap, booty-shaking reggae, mutant mooch-pop and stupid-fresh attitood that should make you want to smoke your stereo and snort your sofa. Dude.

Alas, your furniture should survive this oddly muted double bill intact. Although some tracks were still being cleared as [I]NME [/I]went to press, it is clear that mellow moods prevail and the ex-Monday’s rollercoaster past has left the building. Indeed, echoes of Madchester are thin on the ground, but significant – A Guy Called Gerald’s proto-acid samba ‘Voodoo Ray’ and a nine-minute demolition mix of New Order’s ‘Confusion’. More recent dance developments get a token nod via Artful Dodger. Ho hum.

Elsewhere, Shaun’s lost career as a mobile disco DJ comes to the fore. Because heart-warming golden oldies rule, from Sly Stone’s treacle-drenched ‘It’s A Family Affair’ to Sister Sledge’s lush all-time classic ‘We Are Family’, from Funkadelic’s singalong anthem ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ to The SOS Band’s stately and much-sampled ‘Just Be Good To Me’.

Easy listening standards are another recurring motif – Bobby Darin and Dean Martin croon, Dionne Warwick trills ‘Do You Know The Way To San Jose?’ and Tom Jones bellows ‘It’s Not Unusual’ one more time. Even the once infamous but now deeply quaint Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin duet ‘Je

T’Aime (Moi Non Plus)’ is here, providing one of the few indirect reference points for Ryder’s own

music – check out the heavy breathing shag-pile funk of ‘Dennis And Lois’ on the Mondays’ album ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches’.

What this says about Ryder is that either his tastes are surprisingly predictable and conformist, or commendably unpretentious and populist, depending on your own snob quota. Either way, you could quite happily spin this collection at mum and dad’s silver wedding anniversary – although you may want to skip the propulsive ‘Mind Of A Lunatic’ by the Geto Boys, with its graphic descriptions of mass murder and necrophiliac rape.

Mostly, though, the drivetime radio ethos prevails. With Santana’s noodling ‘Black Magic Woman’, Womack And Womack’s soothing ‘Teardrops’ and Rod Stewart’s feelgood stomp ‘Maggie May’, the mix is conservative enough to please Kelly Jones. Even the rap tunes are mostly sweet standards – Ice Cube’s exquisite ‘Today Was A Good Day’, Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s soporific ‘Summertime’, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s seminal ‘It Takes Two’.

Ryder remains one of British pop’s last untamed, unpredictable mavericks but little of his crazed spirit seems to inform this pleasant but largely safe collection. You can’t really knock the evergreen content, just the overpowering sense of ‘Now That’s What I Call Fortysomething Dad Party Music Volume 74’.

Stephen Dalton