The term Madchester was coined for an alternative music scene that developed in Manchester, England, at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.
The scene mixed indie rock and dance music. Artists associated with the scene included The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, the Inspiral Carpets, 808 State, James, A Guy Called Gerald and more. At that time, The Haçienda nightclub was a major catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city.
The music scene in Manchester immediately before the Madchester era had been dominated by indie bands such as The Smiths, New Order and A Certain Ratio. These bands were to become a major influence on the Madchester scene, but just as important was the Haçienda nightclub.
Although the Madchester scene cannot really be said to have started before the autumn of 1988 (the term "Madchester" would not be coined until a year after that), many of its most significant bands and artists were around on the local scene before then :
The Stone Roses (formed in 1984)
Happy Mondays (formed in Salford in 1985)
The Inspiral Carpets (formed in Oldham in 1986)
James (formed in 1981)
808 State (formed in 1988)
In the autumn of 1988, a series of record releases came together as the first rumblings of a serious new music scene in Manchester. The Stone Roses released "Elephant Stone", Happy Mondays "Wrote for luck" and A guy called Gerald released "Voodoo Ray".
In May 1989, the Happy Mondays released the single "Lazyitis" and the Inspiral Carpets put out their first single with new singer Tom Hingley, "Joe". Like the Stone Roses, the Inspiral Carpets were producing sixties - inspired indie music. All three of the main players in the emerging scene took a dance influence, particularly from 70s funk, with disco basslines and wah-wah guitar being added to their indie jingle-jangle. The Inspiral Carpets added the distinctive sound of the Farfisa organ. (hyrka, what's that ???)
This sound, which was to become known as "baggy", generally includes a combination of funk, psychedelia, guitar rock and house music.
Alongside the music, a way of dressing emerged that gave baggy its name. Baggy jeans (often flared) alongside brightly coloured or tie-dye casual tops and general sixties style became the standard uniform of young people first in Manchester and then across the country - frequently topped off with a fishing hat in the style sported by the Stone Roses drummer Reni. The fashion, like the music, was somewhere between rave and retro.
The majority of bands on the Madchester scene would produce music that could be described as "baggy", including James, The Charlatans and The Mock Turtles. However, in the early 1990s the sound spread across the country, with bands such as The Farm, Flowered Up, Candy Flip and (early on) Blur treading where mancunians had gone before.
Madchester's role as an industry bandwagon from this time on is hard to deny. James were amongst the first beneficiaries of this. The local success of their self-financed singles "Come Home" and "Sit Down" (the latter becoming something of a Manchester anthem during 1989, with clubs full of people ritually sitting on the floor to it) led to a deal with Fontana (Major), and they were to score chart hits with "How Was it For You" and a re-recorded version of "Come Home" (sounding distinctly baggier) in the summer of 1990.
A number of other bands joined the fray during 1990, including World of Twist, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, The High, Northside, Paris Angels, and Intastella.
The peak of Madchester was in the summer of 1990. A rapid succession of chart hits followed during the summer, including "One Love" by the Stone Roses, "This Is How It Feels" by the Inspiral Carpets, "The Only One I Know" by The Charlatans and "Kinky Afro" by the Happy Mondays.
After this, however, Madchester's recorded output slowed. The end of the year saw triumphal concerts by James and a double-header with the Happy Mondays and 808 State, both at Manchester G-Mex, which seem, in retrospect, to mark the end of the era.
The Stone Roses cancelled their June 1990 tour of the US, issuing a press statement saying: "America doesn't deserve us yet". The real reasons are probably more complicated - the Roses also cancelled a gig in Spain and an appearance on the UK chat show Wogan. They would not face the public again until the end of 1994, spending the intervening time in and out of studios in Wales (where they recorded at leisure a second album, Second Coming) and fighting in court to release themselves from their contract with Silvertone Records.
The making of the next Happy Mondays album, "Yes Please!" was also problematic, and it would not be released until October 1992. The band flew to Barbados to record it, making repeated requests of Factory Records for extra time and additional funds (almost certainly in part to fuel growing drug habits). This is reputed to have been the major factor in the bankruptcy of the label in November 1992.
With the two bands seen as the most central to the scene out of action, media fascination with Madchester dwindled. James, Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans and 808 State continued to record, with varying degrees of success, during the 1990s, but ceased to be seen as part of a localised scene.
Local bands catching the tail-end of Madchester, such as The Mock Turtles, became part of a wider baggy scene. The music press in the UK began to place more focus on shoegazing bands from the south of England and bands emerging through US grunge.
The immediate influence of Madchester was in inspiring the wider baggy movement in the UK, with bands from various parts of the country producing music in the early 1990s heavily influenced by the main Madchester players. These bands included Flowered Up (from London), The Farm (from Liverpool), the Soup Dragons (from Glasgow) and Ocean Colour Scene (from Birmingham). Blur, from Colchester, certainly adopted a baggy style in their early career, although in an interview with Select Magazine in 1991 they claimed, rather implausibly, to have "killed" the genre.
Subsequently, the influence of Madchester on Britpop in the mid-1990s was fairly clear, depending on which bands are discussed. Oasis are a clear example, and their guitarist Noel Gallagher worked as a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets during the Madchester era and vocalist Liam Gallagher had been a long time fan of Ian Brown. Both Gallagher brothers are self-professed fans of The Stone Roses.
The "big beat" dance music movement of the late 1990s also owed much to Madchester's eclectic approach to clubbing, with the Manchester DJ-ing duos the Chemical Brothers and Mint Royale being heavily inspired by their experiences in the Manchester clubland of the early 1990s.
Since a few years, such bands as Kasabian, The Rapture and The Music jumped on the bandwagon, in order to revive Madchester's flame...
There's also the film "24 Hour Party People" by Michael Winterbottom (and to an extent the documentary "Shadow Players") accurately and amusingly semi-fictionalises both the Madchester period (second half of the film focussing on Happy Mondays) as well as giving an overview of the Manchester scene through a depiction of the rise and fall of Factory Records (especially Joy Division) and the Hacienda. With an appealing and amazing soundtrack !!
The following videos are part of a non-exhaustive list of all the hits Madchester's era counts... Listen up !
The Stone Roses, Waterfall
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James, Sit Down
The Farm, All together now
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Happy Mondays, Step On
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The Charlatans, The only one I know
The Inspiral Carpets, Saturn 5
Northside, Take 5
World of twist, The storm
Que celui qui a tout lu se dénonce ! :p
Et contrairement à d'autres, moi je ne donne pas mes sources...