It’s pretty hard to believe it’s been 21 years since Black Grape released their debut album It’s Great When You’re Straight….Yeah! Formed by Shaun Ryder and Bez on the back of their success in the late 80s/early 90s with Madchester band Happy Mondays they brought in former Rap Assassin Paul “Kermit” Leveridge, Carl “Psycho” McCarthy, drummer Ged Lynch and guitarist Wags (formerly of Paris Angels). In 1994 they recruited record producer and remix wizard Danny Saber who produced said debut album. It was released in 1995 and spawned a series of Top 20 hits with irresistibly catchy songs and hooks including Kelly’s Heroes, In the Name of the Father and The Reverend Black Grape. The album went to number 1 and eventually went platinum becoming one of the greatest albums of the 90s.
Who could resist the incredibly infectious harmonica introduction of The Reverend…? The original was played on a Casio but the band pulled a Welsh guy from a pub who was playing harmonica and the rest is history. It became NME’s Single of the Year. The album is the ultimate party record and so catchy containing cheeky lyrics and great funky dance beats (Shake Well Before Opening and Shake Your Money) to name two. In the Mondays Ryder and Bez were always successful but working with rapper Kermit on here they sound revitalised, pooling together their writing skills to sing about religion, drugs and an assortment of miscellaneous subjects. It’s quirky and happy and pulls no punches jumping straight at the proverbial jugular with its mix of funky grooves and hip hop hooks.
To celebrate, this month Radioactive/UMC have released a Three Disc Deluxe Edition including the original album’s rare B-sides (including the band unofficial Euro 96 football song England’s Irie where vocals came from Clash front man Joe Strummer) and remixes from artists including Goldie. It also contains live tracks from 1996 where the band played Brixton Academy as well as a DVD with official music videos, TOTP performances and Later With Jools Holland. The album will also be available as a one disc standard CD and on 180g heavyweight vinyl.
To further celebrate the band are now currently on a 13 day tour UK tour including Glasgow, Newcastle, London and Nottingham. As we speak they are also working on new album with produce Youth (a founding member of Killing Joke). Mad for it!