Electronic Factory

When Electronic released their first two masterful singles (1989’s Getting Away With It and 1991’s Get The Message) they seemed to have the future in their palms. They talked of collaborating with a variety of people all based around the core of the pair. Bernard wanted a break from New Order. Johnny had left The Smiths. Both wanted to do new things and break new ground. I always imagined this would lead to something a little different than just the song-based tracks that made up the first album (which I love by the way and many of the songs on it are first rate). The other stuff ended up on B-sides but I always thought they should have pursued this and made an instrumental, dance music album as well as the dance influenced pop. Lucky Bag was on the flipside of Get The Message, Hacienda house with Italo piano. Lean To The Inside was a classy, more chilled piece which came out on the Feel Every Beat 12″. A whole album of this kind of thing could have worked really well.

Lucky Bag (Miami Edit)

Lean To the Inside

Disorder

New Order split up, sort of, for the first time in the late 80s, splintering into several bands who all sounded a bit like New Order. After ten years together they needed some space from each other. Depending on who you believe a) Bernard had had enough of Hooky’s habits and wanted to make music without having to have his bass on everything b) Hooky thought Bernard was a big-headed, lead singer who was trying to take over the band to make dance records. And so began the intermittent sniping at each other which, despite a massively successful reformation in the mid-90s and again in the early 2000s, has led to New Order touring and making records without Peter Hook. And whatever he’s done and however he behaves, it doesn’t really seem like New Order without Hooky on bass.

Bernard and Johnny Marr recorded a handful of great singles- Getting Away With It and Get The Message- and their first album was a good ‘un from start to finish. Having abandoned The Smiths Bernard had to coax the best guitarist of his generation into playing the guitar at all on the debut. The rough and funky guitar break on Feel Every Beat, last song on the album, make ’em wait, is signature Marr. The song also has Barney rapping and getting away it. Just about.

Feel Every Beat (12″ mix)

Hooky formed Revenge/took Revenge. He claimed Johnny Marr had promised to work with him first and then left him in the lurch. Now, now children, play nicely. Revenge’s debut single was also good, full of sparkling guitars and NO-esque keys and singing. I don’t have it on the hard drive at the moment and can’t be arsed ripping it so it’s video only. The album had a few moments too but nothing as fresh as 7 Reasons. 7 Reasons had an opening line as arch as anything Barney could come up with… ‘It’s good to be young and gifted again, to see if it all happens twice’.

He went on to find more chart success with Monaco (with David Potts). I was less fussed about Monaco and don’t own anything by them- they sounded like a photocopy of New Order. A photocopy of a photocopy of New Order. But I don’t begrudge Hooky that. I saw Revenge playing at Cities In The Park, in Heaton Park, in 1991. They played in the middle of the afternoon and sounded like a dance Sisters Of Mercy. Electronic played later, with both Pet Shop Boys turning up. They were much, much better.

Stephen and Gillian shrugged, tutted and then got on with making music as The Other Two. Their debut was also a little slice of joy. Sounds a little dated now I think. Kylie should have covered this. It is in lots of ways a long way from Transmission.

Factory lost New Order and gained three sub-bands, none of whom (Electronic excepted occasionally) could match New Order’s record sales. Then Factory went bust, waiting and hoping for the band to put an lp out in time to save the label but ti didn’t happen. Electronic, Revenge and the Other Two had all put out their records on Factory. By the time they kissed and made up, Factory was gone.