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Flowered Up

The perfect representation of the baggy movement's pills 'n' thrills hedonism, within a few years Flowered Up went from working-class kids to one of Britain's most hyped groups to drug-induced flameout. Seen as London's answer to Madchester groups like the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, Flowered Up formed in 1989 in a Camden housing estate and featured vocalist Liam Maher, keyboardist Tim Dorney, guitarist Joe Maher, bassist Andy Jackson, drummer John Tovey, and Barry Mooncult, who wasn't officially a member of the band but danced on-stage with a giant flower around his neck. From their first gig at the end of 1989, the group's unpredictable but enthusiastic live shows -- as well as their enthusiastic embrace of baggy's Ecstasy-fueled culture -- earned Flowered Up an equal amount of fans, detractors, and hype. Indeed, the band appeared on the covers of both NME and Melody Maker before they released any music. After signing to Heavenly, they released the club anthem It's On in the summer of 1990 and followed up with Phobia that autumn; both singles reached the Top 40 on the U.K. charts. Riding this momentum, Flowered Up switched to London for their full-length debut -- when they signed the contract, their manager cut open a bag of cocaine and wrote "F U" with it on the tabletop of the label's office. The group's 1991 album, A Life With Brian, was a commercial and critical disappointment: not only did the record's over-produced sound fail to capture the manic charisma of Flowered Up's live shows, much of the hype around the band had fizzled out by the album's release. London dropped Flowered Up a few months later when they delivered an uneditable 13-minute single; the band returned to Heavenly and released the single, "Weekender," to critical acclaim in 1992. "Weekender" denounced weekend club-goers, advocating a party-all-the-time philosophy that distilled Flowered Up's appeal and ultimate downfall. The group's week-long "Debauchery" party, which featured guests as diverse as Kylie Minogue and novelist Hanif Kureshi and took place in a mansion that Barry Mooncult was supposed to be renovating, ended up being Flowered Up's last hurrah. A few shows and recording sessions later, the group finally imploded. Tim Dorney became the band's most successful member, forming Republica a few years later; after disappearing for much of the '90s, in 2000 Liam Maher re-emerged with a new project, Greedy Soul, and signed to the Poptones label. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi
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