Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches

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Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches
Studio album by
Released5 November 1990
Recorded1989 - 1990
StudioEden Studios (London)
GenreMadchester, alternative dance, neo-psychedelia, alternative rock
LabelFactory - FACT 320
ProducerPaul Oakenfold, Steve Osborne
Happy Mondays chronology
Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches
Yes Please!
Singles from Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches
  1. "Step On"
    Released: 26 March 1990
  2. "Kinky Afro"
    Released: 8 October 1990
  3. "Loose Fit"
    Released: 25 February 1991

Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches is the third studio album by English alternative rock band Happy Mondays, released on November 5, 1990 by Factory Records. The band chose British DJ Paul Oakenfold and his frequent collaborator Steve Osbourne to produce the album based on their work on various remixes for the band's previous singles. It was recorded at Eden Studios in London throughout 1989 and early 1990.

Unlike the band's previous album Bummed, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches incorporates a larger influence from house music through Oakenfold's production.

The album was the band's commercial breakthrough in the band's country of origin, propelling the Happy Mondays to the top of their commercial success amidst the height of the Madchester and baggy cultural scenes. Along with the Stone Roses' self-titled debut album, it is considered to be the centerpiece of the Madchester movement.


The original album cover for Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, designed by Central Station Design, consisted of a montage of popular children's sweet wrappers.[1] The cover was changed for subsequent issues of the album following objections from the U.S. manufacturers, resulting in the new, somewhat plainer album cover.[1]

In November 2007, the album was re-released by Rhino Records with extra tracks and a DVD of music videos.[citation needed]

On 23 June 2012, daily newspaper The Guardian gave readers a free copy of the album in each newspaper.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[5]
Los Angeles Times3.5/5 stars[6]
Q5/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[9]
Sounds4/5 stars[11]
Uncut4/5 stars[12]

Stuart Maconie of NME hailed Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches as "a tremendous record, and a gauntlet chucked at the feet of all the other would-be legends in town."[7] In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau cited "Grandbag's Funeral" and "Kinky Afro" as highlights but stated that "their Voidoids is hotter than their 'dance music'".[13] In a less enthusiastic review, Bob Mack of Entertainment Weekly said that apart from "Step On" and "Donovan", the album shows that the band is less interesting than their Madchester contemporaries and do not warrant comparisons to The Rolling Stones.[5] Simon Reynolds, writing in The New York Times, called it a "perplexing mishmash" that can alienate listeners outside of Manchester's rave scene.[14]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine called Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches a hedonistic album that was the peak of Happy Mondays' "career (and quite arguably the whole baggy/Madchester movement) ... a celebratory collage of sex, drugs, and dead-end jobs where there's no despair because only a sucker could think that this party would ever come to an end."[3] Q magazine called it their "artistic peak" and a "top-hole album".[8] In 2000, the magazine placed Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches at number 31 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[15] In 2005, the album was voted the 51st greatest album of all time by Channel 4 viewers.[16] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Mark Day, Paul Davis and Gary Whelan except where noted.

1."Kinky Afro" 3:59
2."God's Cop" 4:58
3."Donovan" 4:04
4."Grandbag's Funeral" 3:20
5."Loose Fit" 5:07
6."Dennis and Lois" 4:24
7."Bob's Yer Uncle"Happy Mondays, Paul Oakenfold, Steve Osborne5:10
8."Step On"John Kongos, Christos Demetriou5:17
9."Holiday" 3:28
10."Harmony" 4:01
Total length:43:49


  • "Step On" reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart.[18]
  • "Kinky Afro" reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart.[18]
  • "Loose Fit" reached No. 17 in the UK Singles Chart.[18]

Cover versions[edit]

  • "Step On" was originally a single by John Kongos, also featured on his 1972 album Kongos; the full title of Kongos' version is "He's Gonna Step on You Again".
  • "Tokoloshie Man" was also originally a single by Kongos whose version is spelled "Tokoloshe Man". Happy Mondays' version was spelled correctly when originally released as a B-side in 1991.

Use in media[edit]

  • The song "God's Cop" was featured in the Masterpiece Theatre production of White Teeth.[19] It was also featured in the opening credits of the documentary film "One Night in Turin" [20]
  • The songs "Loose Fit" and "Kinky Afro" were featured in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, a dramatisation of the Manchester music scene during the time of the Happy Mondays, New Order & Joy Division.
  • The song "Loose Fit" was featured on Clarkson's Car Years in "The New Romantics" episode in 2000.



  1. ^ a b "Factory Records: FACT 320 HAPPY MONDAYS Pills 'N Thrills and Bellyaches". Factory Records. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches – Happy Mondays". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  5. ^ a b Mack, Bob (14 December 1990). "Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches". Entertainment Weekly. New York (44). Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  6. ^ Gold, Jonathan (6 January 1991). "Happy Mondays 'Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches' Elektra". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b Maconie, Stuart. "Happy Mondays – Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyache". NME. London. Archived from the original on 12 October 2000. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Happy Mondays: Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches". Q. London (118): 102. July 1996.
  9. ^ Pearlman, Nina (2004). "Happy Mondays". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 362–63. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Harrison, Andrew (December 1990). "Non-Stop Ecstatic Belly Dancing". Select. London (6): 92–93.
  11. ^ Gibson, Robin (1990). "Miraculous Conception". Sounds. London.
  12. ^ "Happy Mondays: Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches". Uncut. London: 81. [The album] provided funkier, more chart-friendly highs...
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (30 July 1991). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  14. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2 December 1990). "Home Entertainment/Recordings: Recent Releases". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  15. ^ "100 Greatest British Albums Ever". Q. London (165): 74. June 2000.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by Channel 4 (2005)". besteveralbums.com. 17 April 2005. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  17. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael, eds. (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  18. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 242–243. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  19. ^ "Masterpiece Theatre - White Teeth - Essays + Interviews - The Soundtrack".
  20. ^ Bobo, What Is. "One Night in Turin - Music".

External links[edit]