2007 #14 (Happy Mondays)
Nononono, wait one second…
No, honestly, that isn’t a perverted fanart of Darth Vader after he loses his helmet and instead becomes a regular at your local shittiest bar who follows you into the bathrooms in order to try and sell you spice, that’s actually one of the UKs most notable rock stars, and he’s actually released one of the greatest albums of 2021.
Jesus, this is a losing battle, isn’t it? Either our aware of Shaun Ryder is, either through knowing that he was in a couple of influential bands at least 25 years ago, and is perhaps one of the most famous drug addicts and casualties in British rock music. Or you’re aware of him as that talking potato with gigantism that occasionally exhales noises that almost sound like speech while sitting next to Bez on Celebrity Gogglebox. Or maybe you know him from coming second in 2010’s I’m a Celebrity Gat Me Out of Here, where he showed that growing up in Salford in the 60s means that kangaroo testicles are still far more nutritious that what you’ve been brought up eating. However you know him, there’s no fucking way you’d believe that he was capable of making any sort of coherent artistic statement in 2021. To be honest, you wouldn’t trust him to make you a bacon sandwich without injecting it with lysergic acid diethylamide then keeling over through the effort.
If you don’t know who he is, you’re currently asking yourself why Mussolini looks so bad at the age of 138, and where I’m getting off by platforming him. #Cancelled.
Well firstly, I hope this positioning will finally put to bed that age old debate over who’s better, Olivia Rodrigo or Shaun Ryder. Sorry, Rodrigo, but this is one high profile celebrity beef that you lose! Yeah, got pretty nasty that one. Shaun, God bless him, got his Twitter app confused with his Just Eat one, sent an order to Olivia Rodrigo asking for chilli chicken fries, and soon became enraged when they hadn’t arrived twelve hours later. It’s possible that Mr Ryder got Ms. Rodrigo confused with Olive Garden, of which I’m not sure there are any restaurants in the UK, but he might have just heard about it on an old episode of Friends he was watching and got peckish. Olivia Rodrigo had no response, other than to block this hideous looking vagrant she must have assumed was Tweeting on a phone he’d found in the bins outside Costco while looking for his evening’s dinner. Which means, obviously, that Ryder won the debate.
Maybe I’m biased, I don’t know. Well, I do know, because I’m a human, and every human has biases. But I’m at least explicitly putting my biases on the table, whereas your implicit biases are actually ruining your life and all your relationships. So who wins? That’s right, Olivia Rodrigo. Don’t ask me how, it’s complicated, but she gets this round. When I did the ‘My Life in Albums’ miniseries last year, where I named the most important album to me for every year of my life, Prince was obviously the most featured artist, with three of his peerless 80s albums winning inclusion, not surprisingly at all. No other artist even had more than one album. Apart from Shaun Ryder, who was represented by his two bands being responsible for the timeless albums ‘Bummed’ (Happy Mondays) and ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight Yeah’ (Black Grape). The guy’s obviously a joke, he’s an easy meme if you want to wheel out a picture of his bloated corpse or invent a Twitter feud he had with Olivia Rodrigo, but the guy has a shamanic and utterly unique grasp of jusic and, yes, poetry. Yeah, his lyrics are fucking nonsense, but so are almost every song lyric. The difference is that lesser artists pretend their songs are meaningful while puking nonsense about drops of Mercury in people’s fucking hair or some shit, but Ryder knows it’s nonsense, and instead has a peerless ability to spout the nonsense that somehow sounds great. Oh, yeah, Ryder’s lyrics sound great, there’s another difference.
And ‘Visits from Future Technology’ contains not only some absolutely classic Ryderisms (I feel like listing them here would be a spoiler. Also, I can’t find them online to copy and paste), but is musically an outstandingly varied accomplishment as well, building on his (beyond weird) 2003 debut by including actual songs. Yeah, you already think I’m bullshitting, but I don’t care, I know you’re going to listen to it now out of morbid curiosity (and gathering ammo to mock me with) and you’re going to fucking love it! Eat my (kangaroo) balls!!!