86 Palatine Road

A flat in this house on Palatine Road was once the home of one Alan Erasmus. In 1978 he co-founded Factory records along with Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton. Martin Hannett and Peter Saville soon joined. The label operated out of this flat throughout the 1980s, a short distance from where I grew up. The tales of Factory Records and its bands are the stuff of legend- no contracts, fifty-fifty split between label and bands, the artists own the music, the Hacienda must be built, Ian Curtis, So It Goes, Granada TV, Joy Division, New Order, the numbering system, A Certain Ratio, Durutti Column, Section 25, Stockholm Monsters, The Distractions, Crispy Ambulance, 52nd Street, Quando Quango, The Wake, James, The Railway Children, The Royal Family And The Poor, Miaow, Happy Mondays, the Factory egg timer, die-cut sleeves, tracing paper sleeves, no band photos on the sleeves,… In 1990 Factory moved out of 86 Palatine Road and into Factory 251 in town.
Yesterday a blue plaque was awarded to 86 Palatine Road in recognition of Factory’s cultural, civic and artistic importance. Shaun Ryder unveiled the plaque. Of course given that he demanded the destruction of the Hacienda to ¬†prevent it becoming a museum piece Tony Wilson may not have approved of this recognition of a piece of Manchester’s musical history. But if buildings are going to be awarded blue plaques for the part they played, then this is as deserving as any.
There are so many songs that illustrate Factory’s brilliance in the 80s. On this song Otis, from Durutti Column’s 1989 album (named after its creator Vini Reilly), Otis Redding’s voice is sampled along with vocals credited to Vini’s friend Pol. Reilly’s guitar playing is fluid and lighter than air, echo on the arpeggios underpinning and enveloping the spectral Otis vocal- ‘another sleepless night for me’. And then ‘come back, come back’.

47

I’m bookending this working week with The Replacements. After posting the outtakes on Monday I was listening to a couple of their albums and I Will Dare came on with that little guitar riff at the start and then Paul Westerberg sings…

‘How young are you?
How old am I?’

And today, as it happens, I turn 47.

The number 47 doesn’t seem to have very much going for it. As Wiki points out it is the fifteenth prime number, the thirteenth supersingular prime and the sixth Lucas prime (nope, me either). It is strictly non-palindromic and in binary is represented as 00101111. A U.S. Maths professor used it to prove something funny to his students about numbers and this led to a long running visual gag in Star Trek. It is the atomic number of silver (my hair may be going that way). Mars has a forty seven year cycle around the sun. The Brooklyn hip hop collective Pro Era used 47 repeatedly because they felt that it represented perfect balance in the world and tension between the heart and brain. They also had a 47 logo that looked a tad swastika-like. It is the international dialling code for Norway. The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are forty seven degrees apart. There are forty seven Ronin in the Japanese story of the same name. More up this blog’s alley, FAC 47 was the Factory anvil badge.

Frankly, there are more interesting numbers than 47. I’m spending the evening of my 47th birthday watching Jane Weaver play her psychedelic/electropop/folk music at Band On The Wall. I’ll let you know how it was.

I Will Dare is a cracking little song off 1984’s Let It Be album. The guitar solo was played by R.E.M.’s Peter Buck who was astonished by the amount of alcohol The Replacements could put away. And as he pointed out, R.E.M. were hardly the soberest band in the mid 80s.

I Will Dare

Making Sense

Jonathan Demme died a couple of days ago. When I was seventeen I watched Stop Making Sense for the first time, the Talking Heads concert film he made. It is fair to say that it made quite an impression on me. I wore my VHS copy out. This performance of Life During Wartime is something else with so many memorable moments- the keyboards are out there, David Byrne is full on and the bit where the front line all jog on the spot at the front of the stage is visually stunning.

Not only that, but this as well. New Order’s best video for one of their many 80s peaks.

The Worm Has Definitely Turned For You

The Madchester Rave On e.p. is best known for the musical dance riot that is Hallelujah but there were three other songs on the disc- Holy Ghost, Clap Your Hands and the one here which gave the record its name. Rave On is a swirl of keyboards and guitars mashed together by Martin Hannett, some funk slap bass, massively echo laden drums and Shaun Ryder giving it the full on stream-of-consciousness through his centre parting vibe. Various phrases bubble up- we know how to do it, you’re a walking miracle, well the worm has definitely turned for you. I can’t decipher it all, I may have misheard some of these (for the last twenty seven and a half years) and the usual lyric websites aren’t much help and maybe that’s for the best because the not knowing and the guessing is all part of the fun. I suspect they’re mainly about taking drugs. No one else sounded like this then and hasn’t since really.

Rave On

Blue Monday

I know a lot of you went back to work last week but my blue Monday is today. It’s not the job- it’s everything that goes with it that makes this morning a shock to the system. Early, dark mornings, traffic, late nights…

This is the 1988 version of New Order’s best known and most mythologised song. It was re-released to celebrate five years since the original but in a remixed form with Quincy Jones (and John Potoker) at the controls. ¬†It’s not as good as the 1983 version but it’s good enough in its own right and did the business in chart terms (number 3 in the UK) and I like it well enough. The Peter Saville sleeve, not as costly to produce as the 83 diecut version, is a favourite of mine too.

Blue Monday 88 (7″)

New Year’s Eve

Right then, New Year’s Eve, an over-rated excuse for an enforced piss up if ever there was one. But staying in watching Jools, waiting for the clock to run down, is no good either.

Like many of you (us, the whinging, metropolitan, liberal elite out to deny the democratic voice of the British people) I won’t be too unhappy to see the back of 2016, a downer of a year in many ways. 2017 promises more of the same (in the shape of Trump if nothing else). All we can do is continue to rage against the dying of the light with good music, people we like and trust and a hope that things may get better. To celebrate seeing the back of the year here’s some tunes….

Durutti Column first, the combined talents of Vini Reilly and Martin Hannett, and a song to see the winter out- it’s getting a bit brighter every day and has been since December 21st. That’s something to cheer about.

Sketch For Winter

Some more guitars, this time the squealing, distorted and overloaded kind courtesy of James Williamson and Mr James Osterberg’s Stooges. The start of this song is phenomenal, like the engineer pressed the record button a fraction too late but the band went for it anyway.

Search and Destroy (Mono)

Now some proper four-on-the-floor house music from Chicago in 1987. It contains a spoken word section that has some of the best kiss off threats to the other girl ever recorded (see below)

You Used To Hold Me

It’s all about midnight, count it down. There, done.

Peaking Lights with some chilled out midnight dub sounds to ease 2017 in.

Midnight Dub

And to finish, because all nights should finish with this…

Come Together (Weatherall Mix)

Spoken word section from You Used To Hold Me…

Now honey let me tell you something about my man.
You know he’s a good looking sweet lil’ thing.
That man knows how to satisfy a woman
You know what I’m talking about?
Girlfriend let me tell you,
He bought me this fur coat
A brand new car and this 24 carat gold diamond ring
Ain’t it pretty?
Girfriend you know how it is,
When you got a good man,
You start doin’ things like wearing those high heel shoes
And the lace pocket with the garter belt,
And putting on that sweet smellin’ seductive perfume.
Hm hmm
But you know what?
I’m gonna have to put some lame brain in check honey
Cause she got her locks on my man.
But baby I ain’t givin up on this here good thing not for nobody.
Cause what that dorky chick got wouldn’t satisfy a cheese stick let alone my baby
She better take her big long haired butt and move on ’cause he’s mine all mine

I Just Want To See Your Face

In the early 80s Factory signed lots of bands who sounded very Factory. Many of them struggled to escape from the long shadow cast by Joy Division and New Order. Occasionally someone would produce something that stepped forward from those shadows. Section 25’s Looking From A Hilltop, from 1984, is one of those records. The single release had this version on the B-side, produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson from ACR, it is years ahead of itself. A pulsing bassline, percussion and drum machine way up front, with layers of synths, guitars and noises and hard to hear vocals. It is one of Factory’s most startling moments and despite being eight minutes long it never feels like it. Various underground djs and left of the dial radio stations in the States picked up on it pushing it further onwards. From Blackpool too. Kiss me quick.

Looking From A Hilltop (Megamix)