One of the many highlights lined up for the weekender in November will be a rare outing by Manchester funk legends, A Certain Ratio. We asked fellow Shiiine performer and Happy Mondays drummer Gary Whelan to unpick the back catalogue and give us his top ten tracks.
10 – Do The Du
Still one of my favourite Ratio tunes. When I first heard this I instantly fell in love with them. Joy Division with FUNK…
9 – The Big E (I Won’t Stop Loving You)
Takes me back to ’89, my first car (an old Alfa Romeo) smoking Camel cigs and taking too many other substances. One of the greatest love songs. The line ‘A lost cause is the only cause worth fighting for’ is genius…
8 – Wild party
Mutant electro funk. It sounds like Thomas Dolby on keyboards. I remember them doing it on The Tube, I just thought “these are going to be huge”. It’s an amazing tune, but I still prefer the B-side (more on that later!)
7 – Good Together
Perfectly captured the time. Acid house meets haunting soul Backing Vocals, tripping drum machine and Vince Clarke style piano on chorus. Euphoric & thought provoking in one song.
I think this is the closet we (the Mondays) ever came to having any kind of influence on ACR. Not musically, but a quick diversion into our world at the time.
6 – Knife Slits Water
I had just left school and we had recently formed the Mondays. After a night out with my fellow band mates and my first taste of ‘Herb’ I heard this on John Peel (I think in Paul Ryder’s car). It was first song I heard under the influence of the Jamaican export.
Most people first get stoned to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ which to this day I have still never heard. Probably because I heard ‘ Knife Slits Water’ first.
5 – Mickey Way
That drum fill still gets me and that ‘sour’ sax intro.
We rehearsed across the hall at Boardwalk everyday with them. We became huge friends and myself and Mark Day would spend hours in their room, learning. They had a huge influence on us both. Dojo is my greatest drum influence along with the Bunnymens’ Pete De Freitas. I could never pay like Dojo but I have my own dirty sloppy style I developed which he always encouraged.
We would spend all day rehearsing but their room would penetrate my mind and I would go home singing their songs and playing their beats on my teeth.
4 – Bootsy
I think this was recorded around ’86 but only released recently. It’s a nod to Bootsy Collins, of course.
The Stax brass, Martin’s clever understated funk punk disco guitar and that female vocal. I’ve still no clue who it is singing though? And Tony Quiggs sax. We would call him ‘Que Quiggs’ coz you knew an amazing Tony sax part was gonna emerge in the song somewhere.
3 – Shack Up
I know I know, but what a version. I prefer it to the original. Dojo laughed when he heard the Mondays ‘Gods Cop’ as he thought I had taken the drum fill from ‘Shack Up’ and reversed it a little. Yeah, like I’m that fucking good or clever enough!
The intro sounds like a ghost of every dead funkster coming to haunt anyone who doesn’t have the funk….
2 – Your Blue Eyes
This was a song I would fall asleep to after a long long night out back in ‘89. I have stolen that drum fill that introduces the sing so many times. Shhhhhsh!
ACR have always had a perennial reluctance to go with what’s expected, that’s what makes them so special.
1 – Sounds Like Something Dirty
I first heard this when we played with them at the Belle Vue Factory gig. It was the first time I saw them live. I watched them sound check and they did this – I was in complete awe. I never liked ‘Jazz’ but the little bits they secretly slip in to songs is enough for the jazz haters to actually enjoy. They are so fucking clever. I would always end my DJ sets with this tune and every time I would have people asking what it is. The drum fills are out of the stratosphere and the noise at the end… DJ’s following me would be going insane trying to get their first record started.
In amongst all that funk the punk heart is ever present. They are the perfect band for me, punk/funk & soul with a Berlin undercurrent. It’s more Manchester representative than ANY other Manchester band.
We once posted this picture on their rehearsal room door of the English folk band the Spinners and we wrote across it ACR. We were not sure how they would react. They just replied by sticking a picture of the Pogues on our door. Dear friends, ACR
A Certain Ratio play the Saturday night at Shiiine whilst Gaz and the Happy Mondays headline the main stage on the Sunday evening. Remaining packages are on sale HERE