This review is from: It's Great When You're Straight ... Yeah! (Audio CD)
It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah is the first and definitely the better of the two albums that this short-lived rock group - featuring former Happy Mondays' singer Shaun Ryder and assorted rapscallions - made in the mid- to late 1990s.
This ironically-titled party record - that boasts striking technicolour artwork by Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches designers Grand Central Station - provided a refreshing contrast to the then popular Britpop movement's obsessions with The Jam, The Kinks and The Small Faces. That was shown in the fact that it was a commercial success: it entered the U.K. charts at number one when it was released in 1995; and it hosts 3 Top 20 singles ('Reverend Black Grape', 'In the Name of the Father', and 'Kelly's Heroes'). And it was critically acclaimed as well: it got nominated for the bizarrely significant Mercury Prize.
Why was it so popular? It was because their brightly-produced music - which placed loose funk grooves, light house rhythms and gentle hip-hop beats atop rock-y guitars - worked so well, as the profanity-laden 'Shake Your Money' and the Serge Gainsbourg-sampling 'A Big Day in the North' proved. That, and their casually-delivered, seemingly free-form lyrics, that refer to benzos, blasphemy and The Beatles in gently amusing non-sequiturs. Lines like some of those that feature on 'In The Name Of The Father' ("Neil Armstrong, astronaut/He had balls bigger than King Kong/First big suit on the moon/And he's off to play golf/Hole in one"), don't look good written down, or carry any profound meaning, but they do happen to scan well.
That said, it isn't the unqualified success that some have suggested. There are couple of occasions on this largely enjoyable 10-track album when the group appear to be repeating themselves, like the lacklustre, Happy Mondays' referencing 'Yeah Yeah Brother'.