Friday, 10 October 2014

50 songs to take to my grave #17: Weekender


For a while I thought Flowered Up were little more than a bunch of Cockneys pretending to be the Happy Mondays. With hindsight, I think I wrote them off a little too quickly. While I couldn’t give them the credence and respect I had for the Mondays, I didn’t actively dislike Flowered Up. I even bought a couple of their singles. There was a feeling I had that they were overhyped by the London-centric music press who seemed desperate to align their beloved capital with the massive buzz happening in the rebellious north. To me, Flowered Up were standing at the side of the road with their thumbs out and the NME and Melody Maker were all too happy to stop and let them jump onto their bandwagon and give them a lift all the way to the front pages.

When Flowered Up released Weekender, my viewpoint shifted dramatically. Initially, it was the novelty that made me buy it – a limited edition one-sided 12” containing a 13-minute song. Hearing it, I finally became aware of what the fuss was about. If there had always been a glimmer of something special in the Flowered Up armoury, then here it was fully realised in the form of one of the best tracks of the 90s.

Weekender tackles the subject of those who live a boring, mundane existence in uninspiring day jobs from Monday to Friday only to finally get their release at weekends. Liam Maher’s damning endictment of such lifestyles is delivered with an explosive ferocity that sets the song apart from others in its peer group. Anger was normally the preserve of the grungers; the ‘baggies’ were all about partying and having a good time with chemically-enhanced grins plastered across our faces!

It raises questions though. Is Maher damning the day-to-day drudgery of the lives of most people, merely earning a living doing jobs they hate in order to enjoy a couple days freedom at the end of it? Is he condemning the actual people themselves for allowing themselves to be caught in the mire? Or is it a wider social comment on the fact that we are all ultimately at the mercy of ‘The Man’ who allows us to have a blow out on a Friday and Saturday night as long as we’re back at work on Monday morning to make him lots more money? I’ll let you mull that one over amongst yourselves, though it’s worth mentioning Weekender samples dialogue from Quadrophenia, a movie the song is clearly influenced by. That possibly provides a number of clues.


The other thing I like about it is the band’s and record company’s apparent refusal to bow to commercial pressures from the likes of radio. While there were two radio edits made available, one was simply the full-length version with the swear words blanked out, while the other merely shortened the intro by about 40 seconds or so; it still weighed in at 12+ mins and the f-bombs were intact. There was no snappy 4-minute edit for Simon Mayo to play on the Breakfast Show, which resulted in practically no radio airplay at all. In spite of this it still became Flowered Up’s biggest hit, making number 20 in the UK charts the week after its release. I suspect this was mainly because of the limited quantities available, and that it did not feature on the album. The fans rushed out to buy it in the first week, and by week two it had all but disappeared from the listings.

Although very much a band of their time – Flowered Up only released one album and broke up shortly after Weekender was released – I can still listen to this extraordinary song now and enjoy it without feeling it has dated badly, unlike some of their other material. Things didn’t work out for Flowered Up; drugs inevitably played their sorry part in the group’s demise. Following the break-up, the keyboard player formed Republica to huge commercial, if not critical, acclaim, while in subsequent years, both Maher brothers have passed away. Flowered Up have been consigned to history, symbolising a heady era of hedonism and counter-culture rebellion. Most of the 90s ravers and baggies have long since succumbed to the daily grind as depicted in the song, yearning for Friday afternoon to end so they can “go out, have a good time.”

Weekender is undoubtedly a fitting soundtrack.


Soundtrack:

3 comments:

  1. Hello Robster,

    if you have a minute, could you please cancel Sexyloser from your "Seek Inspiration From" - roll and then re-add it again? The reason I'm asking is that it doesn't update on your list, some forums say that the above might help to improve on the situation.

    Thanks very much for your help,

    Dirk

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of my favourite records from this period. Stunning

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  3. classic. even the sainted weatherall couldn't improve it

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