Having watched with eagle eyes the activities of The Happy Mondays in the late 80’s – early 90’s with their seminal releases including Wrote For Luck, Madchester EP and Step On the hunt was on for other treats from the Manchester monkeys. Little did I know being an eager 15 year old at that time that the band had been going for a good few years before their explosion on the music scene in 1989.
When I eventually tracked down some of the bands earlier material expecting more of the baggy sounds I was becoming accustomed to, I was surprised to hear a looser sounding band taking their first primitive steps in the studio. With tracks like Freaky Dancin’ and The Egg listening back to the tracks on this new Box Set EP release via London Records the tracks have been lovingly remastered with a bigger bounce the Paul Ryders bass making the innocent appeal of the band even more lovable.
The band at this time had the classic line up of Shaun Ryder on vocals, Mark (moose) Day on guitar, Paul (horse) Ryder on bass, Gary Whelan on Drums and Paul Davis on keys. With the loose limbed dancing of Mark (Bez) Berry on dancing duties in the studio and on the live stage the band resembled a 5-a-side football team, but wearing all the right labels, Adidas trainers plus cool looking jackets.
The stand out tracks on this set include the live version of Freaky Dancin’. Ryder counts in the band as they all stand to attention before falling into a groove not to dissimilar to Gods Cops. Infact the band were taught to count into their songs (1,2,3,4) by their producer at the time John Cale. 24 Hour Party People is a classic of the time. Quick fire drums open proceedings before the now recognisable beat falls in the place, developing the sort of pace Bez would become renowned for keeping the beat to.
The rest of the EP shows off the band in a likeable state which depicts the progression they were making as they made their way to the lofty heights at the summit of the Madchester craze. The box set comes with new artwork with the box containing the zombie like Bez on the front making this an absolute must for any fan of the band or anyone looking to explore first steps of this legendary band.
The Early EPs box set can be purchased from the Forced Exposure website.