line up: Shaun Ryder (vocals), Paul "Kermit" Leveridge (vocals),
Paul "Wags" Wagstaff (guitar), Ged Lynch (drums), Bez (vibes),
Martin Slattery (keyboards/sax on live performances)
disbanded in 1993, Salford scally Shaun Ryder seemed to disappear
from the limelight amid rumours that his decadent rock'n'roll
lifestyle had finally caught up with him, killing off his creative
mind. In reality the visionary pioneer of Madchester had in fact
been putting a new band together.
1995, the superb "It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah!"
debuted Black Grape straight into the top spot in the album charts
selling over half a million copies in the UK alone. The perfect
mix of Shaun's clever sound-bite rhyme and the straight-up rapping
provided by Kermit (ex-Ruthless
with the funky jazz sound supplied by drummer Ged and ex-Paris
guitarist, Wags could only ever be complimented by Bez doing his
stuff (whatever that is!?!). The
Gary Gannon also helped out on a few tracks.
three single releases from the album, "Reverend Black Grape",
"In The Name Of The Father" and "Kellys Heroes"
all reached the UK Top 10 and demonstrated that Shaun had not
lost any of his Manc humour. Surely the lyrics, "Neil Armstrong,
astronaught, he had balls bigger than King Kong" are the best
on any song ever! (then again, you could not imagine Queen including
them in Bohemian Rhapsody!)
Grape were awarded the NME Brats 'Best Single' award - for "Reverend
Black Grape" and the following morning a still hungover Shaun
informed the nation on Chris Evans Radio 1 Breakfast Show about
how he had got so drunk at the bash he lost the award on the way
home. Typical Shaun!
1996 singles "Fat Neck" (featuring The
Johnny Marr on guitar) and the Euro'96 football theme "England's
Irie", (as used by Sky Sports) scored further chart success.
and Kermit also wrote and sang on The Heads [previously Talking
Heads] "Don't Take My Kindness For Weakness".
Whilst performing "Reverend Black Grape" on a TV programme,
the producers requested that the lyrics, "Talking
bullsh*t, bullsh*t, bullsh*t",
be replaced. Kermit came up with the relatively weak alternative,
stupid, stupid, stupid."
This in typical Black Grape fashion though gave the band the idea
for the name of their second album.
"Stupid, Stupid, Stupid" continued Black Grape's unique
funky soul party sound whilst it also incorporated elements of
techno, hip hop and drum'n'bass (without Bez), highlighted by
their first single, "Get Higher", which sampled Ronald
and Nancy Reagan impersonators announcing a shortage in World
album included a drunken sing-a-long version of Frederick Knight's
classic, "Lonely", and also spawned the hit single,
during the making of the album, Shaun also appeared alongside
Sean Connery in the movie version of The Avengers. "It's
been really good, but I don't fancy myself as an actor. I've got
no big ambitions to be De Niro,"
future of Black Grape is unclear as Shaun, Bez and the lads decided
to reform the Happy Mondays in 1999. Whatever name they decide
to go under though, we hope that the rock'n'roll drug-induced
lifestyle they lead fails to catch them up, even if they are "Stupid,