Review: Twisting My Melon by Shaun Ryder
‘People still come up to me and say, “Do you feel lucky that you’re still alive?”’ And so starts Twisting My Melon, the autobiography from original Manchester party-starter Shaun Ryder.
Having spent most of the late 80s and 90s stumbling around in a drunken haze as worldwide fame and hard drugs took their toll, his band Happy Mondays became one of the most iconic acts of the Madchester movement.
They merged pounding electronic beats with the more traditional indie their town was most famous for, and captured the zeitgeist alongside like-minded bands The Stone Roses and New Order. The latter ran the famous nightclub The Haçienda, creating a perfect environment for the local scene to incubate and hatch a worldwide movement.
This autobiography charts the incredible highs and lows of Ryder’s life. Born into a working class Salford family of Irish origin, he left school at 15 without even learning his alphabet, and three years later was addicted to heroin.
The turning point came when he formed Happy Mondays in 1980 with his brother Paul and a group of mates. The band signed to the late Tony Wilson’s Factory Records, joining a roster that included New Order, James, The Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio. They released their first EP in 1985.
The Happy Mondays went on to pen critically-acclaimed singles Step On and Kinky Afro, which helped take their debut album Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches straight into number one on the album chart.
Huge success followed; a headline slot at Glastonbury, a gig at Rock in Rio and worldwide fame. Ryder recounts these years with humour and realism in equal measure, philosophically balancing the ups and downs to create an honest and compelling narrative.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Twisting My Melon documents Ryder’s lesser known period after the Happy Mondays, with the formation of his second band Black Grape, and beyond.
Ryder has been a cultural icon and 24-hour party person for more than quarter of a century, and in the words of the late Tony Wilson ‘the greatest poet since Yeats.’
Twisting My Melon provides wonderful insight into both Ryder’s personal life, and the making of one of Manchester’s most legendary bands. It’s published by Transworld Books.
Meanwhile, James will be honoured by a PRS for Music Heritage Award on Tuesday 1 November in their home city. A special black plaque will be erected in Manchester where the original group played their first official gig as James at The Haçienda on 17 November 1982. Read more here.