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In the very early 80s in Britain, the then Conservative government* was keen to promote small business and did so by providing grants to start-ups all over the country. The motives were plain, to encourage entrepreneurship and kick start the economy after the depression of the previous decade.

So a multitude of wannabe businessmen took advantage, some going on to prosper in the long term, others making ends meet running small operations with lower budgets, yet making a living.

Others, had their funding withdrawn, and in the case of this irreverent punk band from Macclesfield in Cheshire, the reversal of the decision to pay them what was a mere 40 a week, could not come quickly enough for not only the authorities, but for the many who considered themselves 'decent' people.

Put simply, the Macc Lads upset a great many people with their explicit and at times revolting lyrics and music videos. Not only did they lose their funding, but councils around the UK banned them from playing live and one time, they were denied entry to the USA when immigration officials just scanned through the words to some of the songs.

So the musical PR machine that made the likes of Nik Kershaw famous was never going to be on their side, and airtime on the radio was obviously not to be counted on, perhaps understandably, but in truth, with the exception of the odd few songs (which I decline to listen to), what they did was not nearly so bad, and more than 35 years later, perhaps it is time to give them a bit more credit.
The Guardian wrote in 2015 that they were simply ahead of their time, and were in fact really clever satirists, although the lead singer Muttley McLad (now retired and in his 70s) denied this shortly after the article was published. 'The Guardian are reading too much into this,' he said. 'We were as bad as we seemed, and there was no ulterior motive.'

Almost certainly so, this was a group of lads who turned the British lad and drinking culture into songs, (albeit sometimes pretty lousy ones) and created a very apt tribute to what people do on a Friday night. They did overstep the mark at times, as I have said, but these days, their tribute band the Manc Lads performs in decent venues, selling out gigs and not causing nearly the same kind of shocked offence the original line up did from 1981. Times have changed.

Sweaty Betty


Do Ya Love Me?

The songs are hardly the work of musical geniuses, and you might expect the band to be the first to admit this, but they were fun. These lads were just holding a mirror up, they never invented the F word, nor did they invent heavy drinking and the English pub culture. They weren't the first to use the expression sheep shagger, nor did they create the machismo that leads lads to seek multiple partners, etc. They just set it to music.
As I added a disclaimer on the website ahead of this page, you are here of your own volition and have been warned, so permit me to tell you about some of what they sang about. Supping 20 pints of Boddingtons, shagging, chips n gravy... The song Sweaty Betty was one of their most popular, a compelling love story about the unlikely attraction of a man to a woman who was generally considered unattractive (albeit with the assistance of a considerable amount of alcohol). Then there was the classic No Sheep til Buxton which paints a poetic picture of the lives of the village communities in the rural area between Macclesfield and Buxton. Magic stuff!

Fat Bastard

Then (or was it before?) they penned a song called Do Ya Love Me? which tells of the challenges of a modern relationship and the demands of one or both partners, to be followed by the song Fat Bastard which deals sensitively with the issue of obesity in society, with the song Ben Nevis exploring the consequences of this matter even more deeply. I had tears in my eyes too.
Beer & Sex & Chips n Gravy is arguably the definitive Macc Lads song, and is about, er, wanting beer, sex, chips n gravy. It was always just a joke. Based on the truth perhaps, but this band, as I said, were just about having a laugh.


Beer & Sex & Chips n Gravy

Some members of the group went on to live 'respectable' lives, in one case joining the police, then leaving the police (allegedly unhappy with aspects of alleged corruption on the force - don't quote me on that one) and moving on to teach English in Rome. I guess this proves not a damn thing about how intelligent and decent as people the Macc Lads really were, but for a decade or so when Britain was still searching for an identity, the trio of pseudo musicians from northern England entertained thousands of people with their lack of respect for convention and their desire just to have fun. That's what this band was, just fun. Nothing more, and they never wanted to be.
It was said that they gave Macclesfield a bad name. Perhaps the primmer among those living in Prestbury and Bramhall might have wanted them to go away, but in truth they did more for Macclesfield than pretty much anybody. And still today, when local people travel, people remind them of the lads from Macc. And in any case, what bad name could they give the place simply singing about Boddingtons and chips? Don't people sup ale all over the country? 'Ooh, we mustn't go to Macclesfield. They drink bitter! They have sex! Let's stay well away!'
In any case, as Muttley himself said, these days hardly anybody would take offence, given the nature of lyrics in other musical genres. Maybe you do, and like I said, please don't blame me, I just think the Macc Lads are a good laugh, for the most part, and if you don't want to listen, then you don't have to.
Although you did read this far, you will probably give them a try ;)

No Sheep til Buxton

* About the only thing they did right was kick start the Macc Lads' career :)