This blog is dedicated in the main to 12” singles that feature extended or remixed versions of the original tracks.
And for this single release, Happy Mondays did record a new version of this track, which had originally appeared on their 1988 Bummed album.
But the new “One Armed Boxer” mix appeared on both the 7” and 12” versions of the track, so the benefit of the 12” became the better sound quality resulting from the thicker vinyl and wider grooves, rather than a longer mix.
But the true pleasure in this track is in trying to unravel how it might have come about – and the more you listen, the less clear it becomes.
Most obviously, it lifts vocal melodies from the Beatles’ Ticket To Ride.
But listen more closely and you’ll notice that some of the lyrics in the opening verse are inspired by Sly & The Family Stone’s Family Affair.
Then you have lyrics drawn from the children’s nursery rhyme This Little Piggy Went To Market, and finally, more borrowed lyrics, this time from David Essex’s Gonna Make You A Star.
As if that weren’t enough, for this new version, the band drafted in Scottish singer Karl Denver to duet with the Mondays’ own frontman Shaun Ryder.
But rather than take alternate lines or verses, they sing the track simultaneously, in entirely different styles and with different lyrics.
The resulting mix has no right to be anything other than a total shambles, but instead feels effortlessly beautiful, and has its own unique character.
It’s a piece of music that surely came about by accident rather than design, and you have to feel that producer Martin Hannett’s experience played a huge part in pulling the whole thing together.
Happy Mondays put out some fantastic 12″ singles – it’s likely others will feature in this series as it unfolds – but do any sum up the band’s chaotic charm better than this one?
I’m not sure they do – and what’s more, this feels like one of the tracks that just sounds better on a big thick slab of heavy black vinyl than anywhere else.
Cat No: FAC222