Double Double Good

2019 is going to be a year of 30th celebrations marking three decades since various albums and singles were released that shaped popular music and culture. By 1989 things were starting to happen for Happy Mondays. Bummed, their masterpiece, came out in November 1988 and sold slowly but steadily. From it’s Central Station Design cover to the nude on the inner sleeve, from Martin Hannett’s echo and delay drenched production to Shaun William Ryder’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics, Bummed looked and sounded like no other record (although plenty of other records would soon be released that were inspired by Bummed).

The penultimate song is Do It Better and at only two minutes twenty-nine seconds it’s the shortest song on the album. Musically it is miles from late 80s indie, Mark Day playing chords that other guitarists wouldn’t even consider and Paul Davis’ tinny keyboard swirling around over some drums that sound like they were recorded in a different room through an open door. Over this unholy stew Shaun chants ‘On one, in one, did one, do one, have one, in one, have one, come on’ before letting loose with…

‘Swapped the dog for a cold cold ride
It was deformed on the in but deformed on the outside
Stuck a piece of crack in a butcher’s hand
Demanded he give me my cat back
Don’t purchase me coz I won’t work
I gave away my oil and the seeds in my boots
There was a boom in the room as the papers marched in
He built himself together then sat down’

There’s a second equally surreal verse before he goes back to the ‘on one’ chant but this time extending it – ‘have one, have two, have three… good good good good, good good good good, good good good good, double double good, double double good’. Before being called Do It Better, the song’s working title was E.
Do It Better

Do It Better was a live favourite, a monstrous, circling stomp. Thirty years ago today the group went into Maida Vale studios to record a session for John Peel, putting down versions of Do It Better, Mad Cyril and Tart Tart (broadcast a week later, 28th February 1989). For some reason, despite buying every Mondays single during this period I never bought the Peel Session and don’t have an mp3 of it either. It’s thirty seconds longer with Shaun’s tambourine shaking away and the keyboards leading the groove. Double good.

Why Don’t You Play Us A Tune Pal?

Nicolas Roeg has died aged 90. The films he made in the 1970s and 80s were the type of films you read references to and in those days where things were scarcer you hoped they’d eventually be shown late at night on BBC2 (with a VHS cassette close by). Performance is a counter-cultrue classic, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg and James Fox all going slowly mad in a big house in Notting Hill Gate (and when it was being made Keith Richards waiting in his car outside the set, paranoid about what Jagger and Pallenberg might be up to). The soundtrack was legendary too and this (with my surname too, which added to it for me) is a genuinely great Jagger vocal with slide guitar from Ry Cooder…

Memo From Turner (Alternate Version)

Mick Jones paid tribute to Roeg, his films and especially Performance in Big Audio Dynamite’s 1985 single E=MC2, peppered with dialogue from the film and a verse about taking a trip in Powis Square with a pop star who dyed his hair, mobsters, gangland slayings and insanity Bohemian style. The opening verse is about Walkabout (1971) and the 3rd verse is about The Man Who Fell To Earth, another late night, video tape film that had the capacity to freak the viewer out.

E=MC2

The chorus took me years to fully work out and I’d sung all kinds of words along to it but I think it goes…

‘Ritual ideas, relativity
Holy buildings, no people prophesy
Time slide, place to hide, nudge reality
Foresight, minds wide, magic imagery oh ho’.

Happy Mondays 1988 masterpiece Bummed was also Roeg and Performance inspired with at least 3 songs referencing the film. Mad Cyril includes dialogue from it including the line that opens the song ‘We’ve been courteous’. The Mondays played it on Granada TV for Wilson’s The Other Side Of Midnight show, a band at their peak…