Strange as it may seem for ambassadors of a scene which thrived some fifteen years ago, the members of Happy Mondays are now more in the spotlight than ever. Whilst dancer Bez and regular backing vocalist Rowetta have enjoyed fame in reality TV circles, Shaun Ryder has enjoyed something of a renaissance as a guest on the ultra-fashionable Gorillaz project. Yet somehow these dysfunctional characters always seemed destined for headlines regardless of their musical talent. So whilst the band are set to reform once again for a comeback album, it seems prudent to assess the time when they were more famous for their music.
There can certainly be no qualms at starting this compilation with 'Step On'; not only the Mondays' most successful song but also one which defined a glorious summer and the Madchester scene in general. Sadly, the attendant album 'Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches' - a career highlight - is otherwise poorly represented with the attractively sleazy 'Bob's Yer Uncle' being the only other track taken from it. Even worse, no less than four songs come from 'Yes Please'; the drink and drugs-fuelled record which allegedly caused the demise of Factory Records. Needless to say, these uninspired selections only emphasis the feeling that the looser and lazier the band members sounded, the more Ryder Senior appeared to be the drunken baffoon much of the media portrayed him as. However disappointing it is to be denied ther chance of hearing anthems 'Kinky Afro' and 'Halleujah' again, though, at least the Beatles mash-up 'Lazyitis' and the Martin Hannett-produced brilliance of 'W.F.L.' redresses the good versus bad balance. Yet for those looking for an introduction to the group, there are previous best-ofs available which do their career a far greater service.