The world of the Happy Mondays is different to the one you and I live in. They are a band who exist on another plane, one where sitcom folly rules the roost to such an extent that they seem primed for a rollicking miniseries.
Aside from blowing album budgets on binges in Caribbean retreats, even their live shows were blessed with the mayhem of the unexpected. This crazed show persona was on full display when they performed a hugely unlikely collaboration with Karl Denver.
For those who are perhaps unaware, Karl Denver was a Scottish singer who had a trio of hits in the early 1960s, with his unique falsetto yodelling style. By the time Happy Mondays came around, Denver was a novelty relic of the past, lingering in dusty jukebox’s and serving as a problematic pub quiz answer.
However, he had not escaped the twisted melon of Shaun Ryder, and far from it. Ryder recruited the yodelling geriatric to feature on their track ‘Lazyitis’ on their 1988 album Bummed. The track itself borrows elements of The Beatles’ ‘Ticket to Ride’, ‘Family Affair’ by Sly and the Family Stone and ‘Gonna Make You a Star’ by David Essex.
The Mondays fused these influences together into a Madchester jam of the swaggering sentiment. However, there was one thing missing – a completely disjointed vocal take from two vastly different singers seemingly performing without any knowledge of what the other was doing.
For this live performance, in particular, Denver sings along to the full song, whereas on the studio version, he just contributes sporadically. The result is a magnificent mishmash that makes it seem like you are straddling the boundary of an alternate universe where an ageing Scottish yodeler with a bent for Americanisms fronted the Happy Mondays.
The whole thing seems like some joyous competition winner is seizing his moment alongside a band that he has never actually heard of, and it is a force to behold. The song itself is a melodic sitar classic with lyrics about biting a man’s face off, which makes it even madder that an old fellow in a trucker cap is giving it his all alongside a grooving and moving eternally buzzed-up Bez.
Check out the live clip below. It has the sort of impressive mindbending impact of watching a horse try to make toast and actually succeeding.