Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 08:17 UK
Sounds of 1989

By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News


Clint Boon of the Inspiral Carpets takes us on a Madchester tour. Video by Sophie van Brugen

Twenty years ago, Europe was witnessing revolution with the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Meanwhile, the UK's music scene flourished, with the chart domination of pop producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, rise of dance music and the headline-grabbing rave culture.

Manchester's thriving scene was spreading its musical and sartorial influence, spearheaded by indie rock acts including the Stone Roses, whose self-titled album was hailed by critics.

The Inspiral Carpets were another key force in 1989, with their distinctive psychedelic organ sound, cow emblem and baggy style.

The band's Clint Boon, now 50, reminisces on home turf about being part of the Madchester scene 20 years ago and why it made such an impact.

I joined the band in 1985 and used to work in Ashton Mill where I became a company director and was able to set up a rehearsal space. It was a cornerstone for what came afterwards.

Then and now: The Inspiral Carpets' Clint Boon

We went from playing clubs in Oldham to cool little bars in Manchester. People picked up on us because we were so unique, a bunch of psychedelic lads from Oldham with our quirky, organ-led music.

The Manchester scene was so dour at the time - all long raincoats, fringes and very shoe-gazing.

Our first single came out in 1987. John Peel picked it as his favourite of the year. We signed with Mute Records rather than a major label.
We got national recognition was because we attracted the music press and John Peel. He was the barometer of what is a great band. If he played an unknown band's record on Tuesday night, the next day major labels would be calling them up.

He got behind us and suddenly we could do no wrong, which sped things up, and the Madchester package put together by the music press did too. We benefitted from good timing.

We'd arrived at that classic time in every decade where people say 'why all the sad faces?' A lot of bands then were painting a lot of grey pictures. Even though they made great records, they were downbeat.

Suddenly, bands like the Inspirals, Happy Mondays and Stone Roses, without any collaboration, were all celebrating colour and psychedelia with paisley patterns and funky shades. It came at a time when people needed something fresh.

It spread across the nation because what we were doing was so attractive. Even the tabloids wrote articles about Madchester or baggy and about how to walk and dress in the style.

One of the most exciting moments in my life was when I realised I was in the middle of this hurricane of colourful energy. It was an amazing music scene and I was one of the protagonists.

The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and 808 State
The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and 808 State all emerged from Madchester

The camaraderie between the bands was brilliant. I don't ever recall any backbiting or jealousy. We were all just in it together to celebrate one another's success.

The Happy Mondays used to blow us away live, we thought we could never be as good as them. Most people in our position would have said 'we're better'. And every time we released a single we'd get faxes from Shaun [Ryder, Happy Mondays frontman] saying 'that record is incredible'.

The bands used to see loads of each other when we were striving for success. We'd do a lot of gigs and played with the Mondays and The Boardwalk and The Stone Roses at The International. We'd see each other at The Hacienda.

Suddenly, the bands got separated by their success. But to this day my close circle of friends includes Mani [Stone Roses], Bez [Happy Mondays] and The Charlatans.
One of the most exciting moments in my life was when I realised I was in the middle of this hurricane of colourful energy
Clint Boon

We were a load of working class kids who grew up in the 60s and 70s who had the same dreams and achieved them. It's very much a brotherhood.

One specific incident I remember was when Noel Gallagher became our roadie, his brother Liam got his old job as a watchman at the gas works. We did a front cover shoot for the NME there in summer 1989.

Liam was sat in the little hut at the time, and we all threw stones at it to wind him up. He listened to The Stone Roses in there looking a bit glum. I wish I had a photo of that.


The Inspiral Carpets broke into the UK top 40 in 1990 with This Is How It Feels, and had a further string of hits including Saturn 5 and Dragging Me Down.

Inspiral Carpets' pavement plaque in Oldham Street
The Inspirals' logo is on Manchester's musical walk of fame

Their first Album, Life, reached number two. Three albums later, they parted company with record label Mute.

The band occasionally reform for gigs, and all its members are still based in Manchester and have interests in the music business.

Today, Clint Boon is a radio host at Xfm Manchester, has a band called The Clint Boon Experience, and play tunes at tea parties along with wife Charlie.

The Stone Roses' debut album, meanwhile, was recently re-released, 20 years after its first outing.

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