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From chemical companies to corner peddlers, drug dealers bust out big smiles each time Shaun Ryder’s Black Grape releases a record; the former Happy Mondays crooner injects enough chemicals into his body to single-handedly raise the stock of Glaxo Wellcome and boost the value of a nickel bag to at least a dime. But one thing all those drugs, prescription or otherwise, haven’t done is take away Ryder’s groove. Among the few Madchester culprits still making music, Ryder and his band combine dancey beats and rockish riffs to accompany hedonistic tales on Black Grape’s second CD, Stupid Stupid Stupid. “I wanna get cheeky with ya!/I wanna get squeaky inside ya!” Ryder belts in “Squeaky,” and you may shudder when you imagine the droopy-eyed, big-nosed, Vulcan-eared, and certainly puke-breathed Ryder getting freaky with anyone, but those involuntary shivers will soon turn to full-on dancing. “Marbles (Why You Say Yes…?)” has horn blasts that recall Primal Scream’s “Loaded,” while “Dadi Waz a Badi” and “Money Back Guaranteed” both recall the baggy days of the Mondays, Flowered Up, Northside, and even that new wave-mod-lo fi-dance-grunge band Blur. Considering where the Soup Dragons, Jesus Jones, and U2 ended up with their rock-dance hybrids, Ryder’s longevityboth musically and physically (his body has
a spongelike ability to absorb abuse)
is remarkable. Stupid Stupid Stupid is simply fun fun fun.