Friday, 18 July 2014

43rd 7 @ 43

Today marks the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of my birth, or as I like to think of it, the 18th anniversary of my 25th birthday. While that's nothing remarkable, it does fall on a Friday and even during this fallow summer period that's a posting day. I could have ignored the occasion, but I decided instead to do a one-off post very loosely based on the '45 45s 'til I'm 45' things JC and Dirk did on their blogs. I'm only going to feature one 45 and the series begins and ends today. The record in question is the 43rd seven-inch in my collection (sorted alphabetically by artist and title, naturally).

I used to have heaps more vinyl than I do now, but I was forced to purge my collection quite considerably on a couple of occasions - once for financial reasons and once for grown-up, commonsense reasons. What I have left therefore is generally of a pretty high standard. Even so, when I looked through my singles, I was slightly concerned number 43 would be a little embarrassing. It wasn't, not quite...

While Lazyitis isn't the Happy Monday's finest moment, it's far from poor. It is, however, possibly one of their strangest. Here was a band on the verge of hugeness, highly fashionable and cool, making groundbreaking music to soundtrack a burgeoning scene that would define a period in British music history - here they were making a record with a Scottish country singer who sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Karl Denver had 11 UK top 40 hits between 1961 and 1964. The first four of these all made the top 10, the biggest of them being the aforementioned version of Wimoweh. The Mondays by contrast had not cracked the top 40 at all yet. Musically they were poles apart, and so the collaboration was something of a curio. It is bizarre, it can't be denied. Shaun Ryder's cocky Mancunian drawl weaves itself around Denver's fine crooning and fake American accent. How could such a concept work?

It's arguable as to whether it actually does, to be honest. Lazyitis first appeared the previous year sans Denver on the Monday's second album 'Bummed'. It wasn't the strongest track on the record if I'm being honest, but at least it sounded coherent. By contrast the single version released in 1989 sounded more like a couple of blokes trying to outdo each other on a pub's karaoke machine singing two completely different songs at the same time. It's a bit of fun, undoubtedly, but that's about it. It didn't come close to bothering the charts either.

Karl Denver and Shaun Ryder in the rain
(Lazyitis video shoot)
A few months after Lazyitis was released, Happy Mondays put out the 'Madchester (Rave On) EP and a new movement was born. They did Top of the Pops and became one of the biggest - and most notorious - bands in the country. Karl Denver contracted pneumonia following the shooting of the Lazyitis video. Hardly surprising really. He released his third album in 1993, nearly 30 years after his previous offering. While recording his fourth record in 1998, Denver died of a brain tumour aged 67.

Lazyitis remains something of a footnote in the Happy Mondays story, but it does show they weren't afraid to challenge their audience or themselves. Neither would they reject things out of hand for the sake of being 'cool'. It's not an embarrassing record to own but there are many better ones in my 7" boxes.


Lazyitis (One-Armed Boxer) – Happy Mondays & Karl Denver (single)

Mad Cyril (Hello Girls) – Happy Mondays (b-side of Lazyitis)

Lazyitis – Happy Mondays (from ‘Bummed’)


  1. Happy Birthday!
    I was never quite convinced by Happy the time they arrived on Factory, the whole mystique of the label had begun to wane. And while they were certainly an injecton (of drugs) into the veins of Tony Wilson's empire, they were a bit shambolic for me. Then I heard really kind of all made sense at that point. While I don't think Shaun Ryder was the writer William Blake was, as Wilson was to so famously state, he had his pulse on something of a beat generation pulse. That they would go on to steer the Madchester movement through thick and sometimes impenetrable waters in less than a year was at once awe inspiring and also frightening (for the band - especially Ryder). The fact that no one ever went after them for ripping off Ticket To Ride has always amazed and pleased me.

  2. Well, I always liked 'Lazyitis' in both its versions, so thanks for posting it, and, by the way: happy birthday!!!

  3. Happy 6.5574385243 (square root if 43)

  4. Buon diciottesimo anniversario del tuo venticinquesimo compleanno.

  5. Belated birthday greetings from someone 8 months (less one day) behind you.

    I don't think I've ever heard that version of Lazyitis before. Maybe I have. At our avanced age, the memory gets a little fuzzy.