Sketch For Summer

Sketch For Summer is the opening song on 1980’s The Return Of the Durutti Column album, a three minute introduction to the work of Vini Reilly, a song combining simplicity and beautiful, languid guitar playing.

Sketch For Summer

In 1980 Durutti Column suddenly became a solo project when the rest of the band dissolved overnight, about to record an album. They had appeared from the remnants of a local punk band called Fast Breeder and contributed two songs to Factory’s first release, A Factory Sample. When Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus arranged for their debut album to be produced by Martin Hannett, three members walked out leaving guitarist Vini on his own. Not believing that a one man group would be allowed to record nevermind  release an album Vini had to be coaxed by Hannett into getting out of bed but over a few days Vini played guitar and Hannett played echo unit, delay and drum machine. Vini told Hannett that he didn’t want the ‘distorted, horrible guitar sound’ and Martin went on to get sounds out of Vini that no one else was doing. Hannett then pulled three days worth of guitar playing into shape and a nine track lp was created that Vini didn’t beleive would appear even when Wilson gave him a white label copy of it.

This being Factory in 1980 and Wilson being Vini’s manager the entire early Durutti Column is covered in Situationist jokes and references. The group’s name was a reference to an anarchist unit that fought in the Spanish Civil War. The album’s title, The Return Of The Durutti Column, was taken from a 1967 Situationist poster. The initial run of the album came in a sleeve covered in sandpaper, another Situationist joke, borrowed from Guy Debord, an album that would over time destroy the rest of your record collection. All of this is very Factory, very knowing and part of the legend but listening to Sketch For Summer is the whole deal in itself, a song that fades in with Hannett’s birdsong, created on one of his delay boxes, and then a drum machine smothered in echo and tape hiss before Vini’s guitar playing arrives. Melodies played through some chorus and echo FX pedals, and little runs of notes, lyrical without words, the repeated refrain around two minutes thirty and then the run out with the drum machine and the birds is just perfect.

>Buenaventura Durruti


I’m half way through a book about the Spanish Civil War and have just read this description of the accidental death of Buenaventura Durruti, the great anarchist leader before and during the war-
‘A rumour started that Durruti had been shot by one of his own men who objected to his severe discipline. The anarchists, for reasons of morale and propaganda, claimed he had been shot by a sniper’s bullet when in fact his death had really been an accident. The cocking handle of a companion’s ‘naranjero’ machine pistol caught on a car door, firing a bullet into his chest. Durruti was without doubt the most popular anarchist leader. He had been an unrelenting rebel throughout his life and had earned the reputation of a revolutionary Robin Hood. His funeral in Barcelona was the greatest scene of mass mourning that Spain had witnessed, with half a million people in the procession. alone. His reputation was so great, not just among anarchists, that attempts were made after his death to claim his allegiance.’
During the war Durruti told his followers ‘We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin it’s own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts.’ Which is quite inspiring isn’t it. The anarchists refused to join the Republican government- they didn’t believe in government, a philosophy which contributed to divisions among the left and let the Stalin-directed communists take the reins, and Franco take power in 1939.
There’s a Spanish Civil War re-enactment society called La Columna I found while idling on the net. I’m just happy such a thing exists. You can find them here-

I’m not sure I’m going to spend my weekends dressed in 1930s clothing, digging trenches and pretending to shoot fascists. But maybe I’m just not ready yet.

On to the music. Vini Reilly’s band The Durruti Column have been releasing records since the late seventies, first on Factory, managed and named by Tony Wilson. Wilson took the name from a 60s Situationist poster. From their first album The Return Of The Durruti Column this is Sketch For Winter, produced by Martin Hannett. Wonder what Buenaventura Durruti would have made of the band named after him.

Sandpaper Blues

The Durutti Column’s Sketch For Summer (from the first Durutti Column album, titled Return of The Durutti Column) is as cool a piece of post-punk, instrumental, Factory music as you’re going to hear. The guitar’s all Vini Reilly, everything else is Martin Hannett. Not sure it’s too appropriate on a day we’ve had several inches of rain, but it makes the thought of Monday and work a little easier to deal with.

The Return Of The Durutti Column was issued first time round in a sandpaper sleeve, so that over time it would destroy the rest of your record collection. Factory legend has it a number of them were hand-glued by members of Joy Division for some extra cash, and that Ian Curtis did most of the glueing while the others watched a porn film. If it isn’t true, it should be.

01 Sketch for Summer.wma