As it offen happens when chemicals are involved, at some point the drugs stopped working. In a few years, Madchester had become a mockery of itself. The Hacienda was plagued by drug-related violence and criminality, the bands were repeatedly pointed at for their excessive laddishness and their follow up albums were often very disappointing. To finish it all off, a new phenomenon from America was quickly becoming the new love of the British music press: Grunge.
Still, Madchester had planted seeds that would flourish a few years later with Britpop.
In part 3, Stuart Maconie recalls the swift rise of the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses from the dormant indie scene of the late 80s.
The Happy Mondays had their club mixes and extreme lifestyle, the Stone Roses had their Smiths-influenced dreamy pop and their best-band-in-the-world attitude. Both brought the Madchester sound to the mainstream, taking pop back from corporate America to return it to the british youth, inspiring many bands to come.
This is the second part of Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, a BBC documentary about the Madchester era. Listen to the previous part here: Part 1: From Punk to Dance Music.
Madchester wasn’t only about music: loose trousers, bowl haircuts, anoraks… relaxed and deliberately uncool, the “baggy” style was a fashion statement that was quickly adopted by the music obsessed youth.
But music and clothes weren’t enough to bring together a city notorious for its fights and rough laddish culture. Indeed, summer-of-love type nights at the Hacienda had a magical ingredient that made it all work: ecstasy.
In the late 80s and early 90s Manchester was the most fashionable place of earth. It was the era of the Haçienda, a music venue/club set up by Factory Records in a former warehouse that played the most eclectic music. And with its no door policy, it attracted the widest variety of people. The Haçienda saw the explosion of cult bands like The Happy Mondays and The Stones Roses, brought the Chicago and Detroit electronic music scene to Europe and played a huge part in defining the acid house and rave movement. Whether its success relied on great records, cheap lager or cheap drugs is, however, open for debate.