Louder Than War uncovers never seen before or heard before Happy Mondays material from a dedicated fan
At the recent Factory Records exhibition, on the same weekend as the Manchester Happy Mondays gig I luckily bumped into Phil Grunshaw who was not only at the early Mondays gigs but befriended the band and ‘Horse’ aka Paul Ryder through taping the gigs and taking pictures.
Phil probably has one of the best early/rare Happy Mondays recordings of anyone, and the images and sounds he possess are pure gold; so LTW was real lucky when he talked about the old days and shared with LTW some rare photos as well as a treat of a recording of a really early version of ‘The Egg’, from a 3 track demo the band did back in the day(never heard), this is the story of a Mondays fan who was not only there but managed to get some of it down in photo and sound…
Hi Phil…it’s great to ask you about the early days of the band, you following them about, it was the old Happy Mondays photo’s that I first saw of yours? Great images…
Hi Carl, well the Mondays pics I have were taken at The Boardwalk, Manchester on the 31st January 1987, it was my first Mondays gig in Manchester and Inspiral Carpets were support that night, it was probably my first time at The Boardwalk too though I’m not 100% sure!.
I’d first seen the band in Blackburn the previous September, when it kicked off in the middle of the gig, I’d somehow sneaked backstage after that show and got talking to Horse (Paul Ryder), telling him how me and my mates had tickets to see them in Birmingham supporting New Order in 3 weeks time. Horse said “give us your names and I’ll put you on the guest list” – my very first guest list aged 17, I was well pleased. They played in Blackburn again supporting ACR at the end of October 86, so The Boardwalk gig was my 4th Mondays gig and the band knew who I was by then. I think it was a Sunday night, me and a friend had come over from Blackburn on the train and we had no idea how we were going to get home, but details like that didn’t bother us then, we ended up getting a lift home off a workmate after the gig, 7 of us squeezing into a Vauxhall Chevette!.
What point were the band up to around the time you got on to them?
This was a few months before their first album Squirrel And G Man was released, I’d bought Freaky Dancin in the summer of 86, I remember hearing it being played by the DJ at The Festival Of The 10th Summer at GMEX in July 86 and thinking to myself ” I’ve got that !”.
Tell me about you on that scene back then, taping the gigs and taking the photos?
To begin with I got into New Order at the end of 1983, aged 14, hearing them at the Youth Clubs we used to go to. That then led me to retrospectively discover Joy Division and Factory Records and other artists on the label such as ACR and the Stockholm Monsters.
I went to my first gig in January 1985, New Order at King Georges Hall in Blackburn, I’d already started going to record fairs and buying (or thieving) bootleg cassettes of New Order gigs, there were loads knocking about back then and record fairs were pretty regular events in town. I can’t really remember how I started recording my own gigs but the first one I remember myself or one of my mates recording was Section 25 and New Order at Preston Guildhall in October 85, so by my 3rd gig we were making our own recordings, most of them were pretty poor but we didn`t care, they were ours…. We weren`t the only ones doing it, in fact we were just kids playing at it really, I remember meeting a lad called Alex and his friend John at a gig in 86, I think Alex was doing the same as us and we soon became friends.. Taking photos was the next step I guess, I was brought up by my grandparents and my granddad always had a decent camera, a Canon SLR I recall, and he was quite keen on photography I guess, looking back, though all I could get my hands on was an aunt`s Kodak Pocket Instamatic, which meant you had to be right at the front to have any chance of getting a decent photo. I did manage to take the Canon SLR to a couple of Mondays gig in May (Wolverhampton) and August 87 (Platt Fields Free Festival, Manchester) but I had dropped the camera at some point and when I got the shots from both gigs developed (on the same roll of film) I was gutted to see they were all out of focus!
You actually have the first Spirit Studio recordings of the band, as well as some unreleased material don’t you?
I only got hold of this myself a couple of years ago, I lost touch with the Mondays in 1988 really, my lifestyle changed and gigs were replaced by clubs and parties and then warehouse parties as the numbers grew, though I still went to the odd gig between `88 and `91 (GMEX twice, Wembley, Whitley Bay Ice Arena, Heaton Park).
I went on Myspace about 5 years back and got back in touch with Horse, wondering if he remembered me from 86/87 (I saw them 15 times in 87 and tagged along for a week when they were touring the 24 Hour Party People 12″ release in October 87), “of course I remember you” came the reply.
Horse`s new band Big Arm were coming to Blackburn shortly after I made contact and we met up before and after the gig and I was surprised at how much Paul remembers of those early gigs. I mentioned one particular gig to him (The Princess Charlotte in Leicester), probably less than 50 people there and Horse was like “that`s the one were the roof was leaking and the stage was wet”. Anyway, I told him of the early recordings I had of the band and further down the line I finally converted them from cassette to digital format and sent them over to Horse in L.A. Soon after this he put me in touch with a serious collector of all things Happy Mondays, called T, he had loads of rare stuff and live bootlegs but none of the early gigs myself or my friends had recorded, I’d not really shared them much, they`d been quietly collecting dust with my New Order bootleg tapes, or more specifically, the NO bootlegs that had survived, cos I’d recorded over many of the inferior ones, making house mix tapes in 88/89/90.
T was helping Horse out with his Green card Application, cos he had extensive press clippings charting the bands career, so he put me and T in touch and we started swapping Mondays stuff including the Spirit Studio Sessions from the 17th and 24th March 1985, which had 3 tracks I’d never heard before. The full recording consists of; 1 Comfort & Joy, 2 The Weekend Starts Here, 3 Oasis, 4 You And I Differ, 5 This Feeling, 6 Anyone With A Battle, 7 Delightful.
3 track demo?
Again, this is off T and I believe this was being given in to radio stations by Horse in the early days of the band (84/85). It consists of The Weekend Starts Here, The Egg and Delightful.
That man T again, providing some more rare demos;…1. Do It Better 2. Fat Lady Wrestlers 3. Bring A Friend 4. Wrote For Luck 5. Braindead 6. Performance 7. Country Song 8. Lazyitis 9. Moving In With
And that final ever recording session…un-finished tracks
This was a real surprise when I got this off T, I think Horse had only just got a copy of it himself! 6 demos with no vocals from after Yes Please, with names too;….1. Did You Ever 2. Opportunity Knows 3. Dirty Bitch 4. Bass & Drum Idea #1 5. Bass & Drum Idea #2 6. Walking The Dog
I bet the technology was a bit different then wasn’t it?
Just a bit, yes, the analogue years, I couldn’t afford a Sony Professional Recording Walkman, they were over ÃÂ£200 even back then I think, when gigs were as little as ÃÂ£2 for the Mondays so I made do with what I had, and I stopped doing it pretty quickly when I realised you had to stand still, be quiet etc, i.e. not much fun!
Did you think at the time they’d really blow up like they did, was there already a following behind the band?
I don`t know whether I thought they would be as big as they were but I always remember thinking I missed Joy Division and New Order early on, this is my time and I’m not gonna miss these, they were my band, they looked like a gang of lads on stage, it could have been my gang or any number of gangs of casuals in the mid to late 80`s.
They had a healthy following in Blackburn, Leeds and obviously Manchester, particularly Gibbo and Fitzy and the M9 Blackley lads, who I’ve become friends with due to my posting of the Mondays photos on Facebook a few years ago, it`s a small world really, we were at a lot of the same early gigs when the audiences were small, so it`s great to have met after all these years and compare stories.
As well you DJ’d the Fac exhibition today didn’t you and went to the MCR Mondays gig after, a bit like the old days hey!
I’m not really a DJ, I like my music and I make mixes with my PC/laptop and have done a few Factory Nights in Blackburn, but when I got asked to do it I was honoured. It was great to see the proper lineup Because I’ve seen probably every reincarnation since the 1999 MEN show, though most of my memories are of the pre-Rowetta Mondays and the first 2 albums, but I had a top night, I like a dance, so I had one!