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Happy Mondays Uncle Dysfunktional Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Manchester's most lived-in band return for another album of melon-twisting.

Chris Long 2007

You can’t blame Shaun Ryder and Bez for reforming the Happy Mondays. After all, Ryder’s spent the best part of a decade fighting to keep his head above water, while his monkey dancing sidekick has a Big Brother win and the awful Domino Bones to show for the same time.

But getting back together for more than just a nostalgia trip? It’s enough to give you the kind of cold sweats that Ryder’s passed through himself on his way back from bankruptcy.

Of course, this isn’t the Happy Mondays of old. Mark Day and Paul Davis are still not present, Rowetta’s still trying to grasp her X Factor dream and Paul Ryder’s sticking firmly to his vow never to set foot on stage with his brother again, so only drummer Gaz Whelan has been persuaded to return to the fold.

Yet, against the fears and the odds, Uncle Dysfunktional manages to stand proud next to the rest of the Mondays’ albums and even, on a couple of very unexpected occasions, produce the kind of tunes that made them the anti-legends they are.

While the opening ''Jellybean'' plays it safe with their beloved lolloping beats, elsewhere there are new directions; ''Rush Rush'' takes up a stuttering dancefloor shuffle, the anti-balladry of ''Dr Dick'' offers an unexpectedly subtle side and stand-out minimalist mash-up, ''Anti Warhole On The Dancefloor'', shows Shaun was paying attention the day he turned into a massive head for Gorillaz.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems, particularly in the lyrics, but when weren’t there? Think about it; Shaun’s words may range from the stupidly nonsensical to the frankly pornographic and there’s several lazy retro moments, but have you listened to the whole of Bummed recently?

Uncle Dysfunktional is not a tour de force or a golden great. Neither is it a waste of time or a pitiful mess. It is a perfectly decent, high-head-holdingly respectable return from one of the most unique bands this country has produced, and taking into account everything they’ve been through to get here, that’s impressive enough in itself.

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