I Like That, Turn It Up

Yargo have appeared in my social media timelines a couple of times recently so it’s time to revisit them here. I’ve written about them before, a band barely known outside Manchester but who really should have been bigger. There’s a dearth of decent pictures on the internet too and while searching for an image for this post I found the one above, a ticket for a 1990 gig at Manchester International 1 where they were supported by Rig (who I wrote about at the start of this year here and who had my mate Darren on guitar).

Yargo were a four piece who defied pigeonholing mixing blues, soul, funk and reggae, and a singer (Basil Clarke) with the voice of an angel. Several of them had previously been in Biting Tongues, another unsung Manchester band. This song, from the album Bodybeat, has brushed drums and jazzy guitar licks before moving into a sort of dub/film soundtrack area.

Another Moss Side Night

In 1988 they put out a single with singer Zoe Griffin called The Love Revolution (Manchester, 1988- ‘ten thousand people committing no crime… we’re dancing away’). Basil’s voice floats over an ACR style house groove on this very nice Justin Robertson remix.

The Love Revolution (Justin Robertson’s Scream Team Remix)

They received their most widespread coverage in 1989 when their song The Other Side Of Midnight was used as the theme tune to Tony Wilson’s late night Granada music TV show of the same name. As well as some legendary appearances by some definitive Manchester guitar bands OSM enabled Tony to broadcast a party from Victoria Baths soundtracked by A Guy Called Gerald (starting at 6.15 with Voodoo Ray).

And from the end of the series in July 89 a stunning show from the old Granada Studios building, a live rave with Gerald again, T-Coy (Mike Pickering and ex-ACR man Simon Topping) and the Happy Mondays at their chaotic peak. But you know,  it’s 1989, the crowd are the real stars.

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Wilson

Tony Wilson died ten years ago today. His legacy is all over this city and (probably) in your record collections and on your hard drives. Manchester and pop culture is a poorer place without him. I’ve posted Mike Garry and Joe Duddell’s tribute to Tony before but Mike Garry’s words about him and the world he was part of are always worth hearing again.

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

Cities In The Park

Just over twenty five years ago Factory Records put on a two day festival in Heaton Park, Manchester, in memory of Martin Hannett who had died earlier that year. Day One, Saturday August 3rd, included Buzzcocks, Paris Angels, Ruthless Rap Assassins, The Railway Children, OMD and The Wonderstuff. Day Two, Sunday, was almost entirely Factory acts- Happy Mondays, Electronic, ACR, Revenge, Durutti Column, The Wendys and Cath Carroll plus De La Soul, 808 State and New fast Automatic Daffodils. There were two day camping tickets- but who would want to camp in Heaton Park?

We went on the Sunday. It was hot. I met my brother there, who came in when some of the crowd outside pushed the fence down. He had a ticket but just fancied coming in through the fence. From memory Durutti were good but a bit lost in a giant field, Revenge were a bit iffy (Hooky playing bass, singing and whacking the syndrums repeatedly, probably trying to overcompensate for the bad blood between him and Bernard Sumner, New Order’s split and their relative positions on the bill). ACR were good, 808 State really moved the crowd, De La Soul were shouty. Electronic were imperious, especially when the Pet Shop Boys turned up on stage and you scanned left to right and saw key members of New Order, The Smiths and PSBs all together for one song. It’s shame they played live so rarely.

The whole event was filmed and a video released which I bought but no longer have. Here’s a scene setter…

And here an enthusiastic Tony Wilson interviews Johnny Marr, Rowetta, Shaun Ryder and Bez…

This Youtube uploader has labelled this as Electronic live in London  but it’s definitely Heaton Park.

Happy Mondays were by 1991 a stunningly effective if very unlikely stadium band. Kinky Afro rocks. No, it doesn’t, it grooves.

You Used To Speak The Truth But Now You’re Clever

When I posted Boom, a Happy Mondays B-side from 1988, a couple of weeks ago I flipped the 12″ over to enjoy the A-side shortly afterwards. If I could only have one Happy Mondays song it would be Wrote For Luck, their essence distilled into a gloriously fucked up but funky racket. Shaun’s lyrics are his best, full of truths and wit, and Horse’s guitar part is from some other place entirely. Martin Hannett’s production makes perfect sense. Shaun said of working with Hannett it was the only time the producer was more out of it than the band. You could have the album version, the various mixes, the W.F.L. Oakenfold and Vince Clarke versions, any of them. In October 1988 The Bailey Brothers shot a video for the in Legends discoteque in town. It is also a work of genius- fill a city centre club with your mates, get them refreshed and roll cameras. Shaun’s facial expressions tell the story in themselves.

Midnight

I found this twenty four minute time capsule while looking for this morning’s Yargo clip- a special edition of Tony Wilson’s The Other Side Of Midnight TV show from the summer of 1989. Mike Pickering’s T-Coy, A Guy Called Gerald and Happy Mondays playing live down at Granada Studios. A party, as Wilson says, with the emphasis on part-E. As ever, the crowd (their clothes, hairstyles and dancing) are the real stars.

Boom

had other things planned for this week but the St Anthony single has sent me off in this direction so I’m following where it takes me. Happy Mondays second album Bummed is a unique record- it sounds like nothing else ever recorded. The follow up, their real breakthrough Pills ‘n’ Thrills has a more commercial sound and is more dancefloor oriented (and none the worse for it) but Bummed is something else entirely. The original Wrote For Luck single, long before the W.F.L. remixes, came out in October 1988 and had a couple of different versions of the song and also this B-side Boom, a short song that presumably just didn’t make the cut for Bummed. I’m assuming it was produced by Martin Hannett. It certainly sounds like it was done at the same time. It has that swirling mess of keyboards and guitars, the loping beat and some of Shaun’s stream of consciousness, straight out of Salford lyrics- ‘thanks to the cabby, we love the waccy baccy, but we couldn’t pay the fare, so we pinned him down, held his feet to the ground and dumped all over his hair’. Or something like that.

Boom

I’ve survived without a file hosting service for some time now- Mediafire has a copyright detecting thing that makes downloads almost impossible, Boxnet as we know are not playing ball. For the time being I’ve just signed up with Zippyshare although I don’t like the way it looks very much. We’ll see how we get on. To be honest, I’m not an mp3 piracy evangelist and using Soundcloud and/or Youtube hasn’t seemed to affect my ability to post what I want to or the numbers of people reading- but it is nice to have a download sometimes.