Songs I Wish Everyone Knew: “Stayin’ Alive” by Happy Mondays

When it comes to the brief, but amazing Madchester scene of the late 80s/early 90s, the Happy Mondays may not be as big as some of their peers, but they’re easily one of the most important of the lot. Alongside other bands like New Order, The Stone Roses, and James, they helped create a sound that revolutionized alternative rock of the time, and made Manchester the epicenter of it all. The sound, in general, was a carefree blend of psychedelic rock and dance music, and the Happy Mondays had their “trippy meter” cranked all the way up to 10; it’s probably why they were the least successful of all the major groups. Between lead vocalist Shaun Ryder’s (you may know him from the Gorillaz’ “DARE”) blasé and tuneless delivery and percussionist-but-mostly-dancer Mark Berry’s (better known as “Bez”) strange, but important role in the group, these guys dared to be just a little more different than anyone else. Outside of classic hits like “Step On,” “Kinky Afro,” and “Hallelujah,” the group has some killer hidden gems. One such gem is their cover of the Bee Gee’s seminal hit “Stayin’ Alive.” Originally released on the single for “Judge Fudge,” the track ended up on their Greatest Hits album, and not just because it’s a cover of a well known song; their version is surprisingly awesome. It’s almost as though they took “Stayin’ Alive,” gave it little acid, and let it go. They’ve stripped it of the original structure altogether, and it feels as though Shaun Ryder didn’t really bother to memorize the original lyrics, but it ends up not even mattering. To take an amazing, iconic song that literally everybody knows and actually find ways to improve upon it is no easy task, but the Happy Mondays absolutely pulled it off.




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