Kinky Afro

Album: Pills 'N Thrills And Bellyaches (1990)
Charted: 5

Songfacts®:

  • This song about a dysfunctional inner city family borrows the vocal melody from Labelle's 1974 hit song "Lady Marmalade," substituting "yippie yippie ya ya yeah yeah" for "voulez-vous coucher avec moi."
  • Vocalist Shaun Ryder told NME that the idea for this track came from the Hot Chocolate song "Brother Louie." Said Ryder: "We just wanted to do a groovy song like that. We were gonna call it 'Groovy Afro' but we changed it to 'Kinky' after The Farm came out with 'Groovy Train.'"
  • Bassist Paul Ryder told The Guardian he thinks the song's opening line - "Son, I'm 30, I only went with your mother cos she's dirty" - is about him, as he had a child young. He explained: "Because I'm Shaun's younger brother, he was always observing me up close. When he sings, 'I had to crucify some brother today,' he points right at me."

    "And the line 'Dad, you're a shabby, you run around and groove like a baggy' has got to be about our dad," Paul Ryder added. "He was on tour with us all the time, let loose from Manchester, and enjoying himself all over the world."

    "'I don't have a decent bone in me' could be Shaun singing about himself,'" he continued. "For a while, he was called Evil Uncle X. He was up to a lot of bad things at that point. 'I never help or give to the needy' is another line like that."
  • This was The Happy Mondays' only chart-topper in the United States hitting #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. Their most successful song was "Step On," which peaked at #57 on the Hot 100.
  • An afro is a hairstyle in which naturally short, curly black hair is allowed to grow out in a bush around the head. The style became popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s among the African American community. Jimi Hendrix, and members of The Jackson 5 and The Supremes all adorned large afros during that period.
  • Johnny Buckland of Coldplay says this was the first song he learned to play on guitar.

Comments: 4

  • Mad Chester from The MoonKinky Afro is pure blasphemy.
  • Harry Pitts from Golden ColoradoGreat band, they had something back then that was magic. Yes Cobain and Grohl probably liked this sound. Black Grape their best work by a different name, that is epic. Manchester probably the party capital of the western world in 1989-90, a certain cool.
  • Jon from Ripley Derbyshire Great band all very intelligent guys I love the kinky Afro video the blonde lady in blue was stunning I hope she is ok
  • Melinda from AustraliaCould you say its the best Happy Mondays song? No, cause they did so many brilliant songs. Too many to name.

    I just love Kinky Afro. But I just loved that whole musical movement. Known and named by the media as 'Madchester'.
    It may have only been passing thing. But it set a benchmark. And ive always believed Nirvana stole their sound from the Happy Mondays. Nirvana nuts will argue that one. But if you know both bands really well. You can hear it easily. Just sayin.
    And also, The Happy Mondays can easily claim to have created a musical style all of their own from 1988 onwards generally . Their take on electronica/dance music was all their own. And they were excellent.
    I tend to believe it was their distance from what was happening in London at the time, is what assured some thing musically unique. Reading any of Shaun Ryder's biographies. It Really demonstrates how determined bands in the North of England then were. To develop their own sound. And stick to it. They come across very uncompromising. Particularly the Stone Roses. But they had the general support of New Order in the background and everything that the Haciender Club could offer. To make a go of it. They seemed to have alot of self belief. And their backgrounds were harsh.
    Had Shaun Ryder, the lead singer, not succumbed to acute drug addiction. And been able to insist on total creative freedom. (The rest of the band argued to change the sound)

    And had New Order not had the most stupidest idea ...to insist on Talking Heads producing the final Happy Mondays album. Then the unique creativity of The Happy Mondays would have continued.
    And one thing i believe Shaun Ryder on.... the rest of the band was indulging in just as much drug addiction as he was in the end. And today he, Shaun Ryder lives with the totally inaccurate universially believed myth. That it was his drug addiction that put an end to the band. No! it was Talking Head's more old fashioned musical influence on the final album. Which die hard fans know, flopped.
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