There Is No End To This

Before my holiday I promised/threatened some New Order posts, so that’s what’s happening for the next few days I think- nuclear war and a Nazi takeover of the US notwithstanding. It is utterly appalling that the President cannot condemn actual Nazis on the streets of the a US city, murdering people. It is utterly appalling that Nazis still exist to demonstrate openly. This is the swill that comes to the fore following Trump’s election, Farage’s games, Brexit, ‘populism’ and austerity. Racists emboldened to show their faces in daylight.

Back to the music. Procession is an overlooked New Order single being neither the defiant ‘we’re alive’ rallying cry of Ceremony nor the ‘we’ve just invented dance-rock’ blast of futurism that is Everything’s Gone Green. In his book Substance- Inside New Order Hooky names Procession as one of four key songs that led the group out of Joy Division’s rock and into New Order’s electronics. During the 80s most New Order songs were written by the group jamming and then identifying the best bits and working them into a song. Procession was different, largely written by Stephen Morris (the lyrics and vocal lines plus a lot of the keyboard parts apparently). No sequencers at this point but the road to Blue Monday (and beyond) is clearly present. The 7″ single was released in September 1981, a few months before Movement. The other side is Everything’s Gone Green, a much more significant song, a huge, throbbing piece of dance-rock and a massive step forward. Procession gets overlooked. Which it shouldn’t.

Peter Saville’s sleeve came in nine different colours (for the record I own two, a blue and a green) and is based on Italian futurist designer Fortunato Depero’s work. Everything’s Gone Green would be released later in 1981 as a full length 12″ version. These songs were the last New Order songs produced by Martin Hannett. According to  Hooky, Hannett made Barney do the vocals forty three times. Hannett was bereft without Ian Curtis and had little time for the three that were left behind. In return Hook, Sumner and Morris had had enough of Hannett and his methods and habits and felt they’d learned enough to produced themselves. Procession is light and poppy, with synths to the fore, but also dense and uptight. The vocals are muffled and indistinct in places. Hooky’s bass is still very much a Joy Division bassline and Stephen Morris’s drums are as urgent and precise as ever. There are backing vocals from Gillian, a bit of light in the shade, and it all comes together with the ‘your heart beats you late at night’ vocal followed by some spindly guitar from Barney and then a sudden end before the synth outro. Compared to the largely dour Movement from later that year things are moving forward though, clearly.

Procession

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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

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

Winter Hill

Winter Hill sits north of Manchester on Rivington Moor, near Chorley and Bolton with Blackburn and Darwen further north. On top of it is an enormousTV mast which can be seen for miles around. I pass it on the way to work. Next Saturday a few of us are going to Blackburn to see A Certain Ratio play at St George’s Hall. Given its part in the story of the north west’s musical history- Blackburn’s warehouse parties in the late 80s, the Sett End in Shadsworth etc- you’d imagine that ACR might pull a decent sized crowd. When we got our tickets a few days ago they came in the post number 47, 48. 49 and 50. At least we should be able to get a good view and place down at the front.

In 1981 ACR released Winter Hill on their To Each… album. Produced by Martin Hannett, Winter Hill is a twelve minute long journey in sound, with some urgent drumming and whistles and an alternating two note drone. Stick with it as the tension builds and then fades away.

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.

Last White Christmas

Last White Christmas by Basement 5 doesn’t really sound like anyone’s version of festive fun but it’s a dubwise, post-punk classic regardless. The names who passed through the band’s ranks is like a late 70s roll call- Don Letts (B.A.D.), Dennis Morris (photographed the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley amongst others), Richard Dudanski (The 101ers, The Raincoats, PiL), Leo ‘E-Zee Kill’ Williams (B.A.D., Dreadzone), Winston Fergus, Charlie Charles (The Blockheads). To top this they were produced by Martin Hannett who said it was the heaviest, most difficult production work he ever did.

Last White Christmas

Belgian Friends

 

Factory Friday, Durutti Column. Vini Reilly has made something near thirty albums as Durutti Column (him, usually drummer Bruce Mitchell, occasionally a few others). Inside those albums are hundreds of songs, that have attracted a wide variety of labels- post punk, modern-classical, jazz, dream pop- but as Vini has said, and I paraphrase, ‘I don’t know why people get so hung up about forms, they’re all just silly tunes innit?’

In amongst all those hundreds of ‘silly tunes’ there are some moments of brilliance so beautiful words cannot do them justice. For Belgian Friends wasn’t even on a proper album, appearing on the compilation release A Factory Quartet (FACT 24) alongside songs by Kevin Hewick, The Royal Family And The Poor and Blurt. It later turned up on Domo Arigato too. Donald Johnson of ACR plays drums on For Belgian Friends, and his rhythms give it a dancier sensibility, while Vini’s guitar and piano play intertwining melodies. Martin Hannett is at the controls.

For Belgian Friends

This fan-made video is good fun.