All At Once

I passed up the opportunity recently to push my thumb on on a piece of clickbait I saw on my phone entitled ‘are Oasis the best ever band from Manchester?’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ I thought, ‘of course they aren’t. In fact Oasis aren’t even the best band Burnage’.

The honour ‘best ever band from Burnage’ lies with Stockholm Monsters, a little known band who formed in 1980, signed to Factory and released several wonderful records before splitting up in 1987. Their debut, 1981’s Fairy Tales single, was produced by Martin Hannett. Wilson loved them for a while before the Happy Mondays replaced them in his affections. Peter Hook took them under his wing and produced their 1984 album Alma Mater. Their sound is very mid 80s indie- jagged, trebly guitars, cheap keyboards, the occasional trumpet and a non- singer on vocals (I mean this as a compliment. Non- singers on vocals are often my favourite singers).  In 1984 they put this single out (and in typical Factory/ 80s indie style the B-side called National Pastime is just as good- I posted it in January 2018).

All At Once

Later on they worked drum machines and New Order’s Emulator into their sound and in the face of press and record buying public indifference bid farewell with a single called Partyline, a song that starts off wonky and unsure of itself, sparse bassline and swells of one fingered keyboards before it explodes into melody in the chorus. This performance on Granada TV is low key but entrancing, a glimpse of band who should be far better known than they are.

Partyline was their parting shot, a 1987 single on Factory (FAC 146 fact fans). It was produced by Hooky under the Be Music guise that members of New Order used for production work. There’s plenty of reverb on the drums, too much probably heard now in 2019, and the instruments seem to be in competition with each other, overloaded and fighting for space, it’s all very busy and singer Tony France is straining at the top of his register. But I love it, it’s flawed but somehow perfect, and it’s got a spark, a spirit and a heart that you can look for in any of the Oasis albums from [insert date here] onward and won’t find.

Partyline (Partylive Mix)

Burnage, for those who don’t know, is a suburb of south Manchester, bisected by a dual carriageway called Kingsway. I grew up in Withington, its neighbouring suburb a short walk west. As well as Stockholm Monsters and the Gallaghers Burnage was/is home to loads of people I went to school with, former Manchester United captain and Busby Babe Roger Byrne (who died in the muinich air disaster in 1958), actor David Threlfall and Dave Rowbotham, a former member of Durutti Column and The Invisible Girls (sadly murdered in 1991).

National Pastime

Drew wrote a post a while ago saying that blogging often seems to be about exposing the obscure, bringing to light long forgotten songs and the ones that got missed. In the spirit of that here is an absolute lost gem, a Factory Records B-side by Stockholm Monsters, straight outta Burnage. This song was the flipside to All At Once, released in June 1984.

Opening with clattering drums and a low slung bass, then get a beautifully naive topline and a wonderful non-singer’s vocal. Produced by Peter Hook and lost by a record company who wouldn’t pay for pluggers and promotion because they believed the music would sell itself. If this was the only song they’d released, they’d still more than deserve a place in a version of mid-80s indie scene. A little slice of perfection.

National Pastime

Fairy Tales

More Factory for Friday. Stockholm Monsters were mates from Burnage, on Factory between 1981 and ’87, who made some cracking guitar singles housed in some beautiful sleeves but, it almost goes without saying, hardly sold any records. Tony Wilson loved them. Fairy Tales was their debut release from January 1982, produced by Martin Hannett, sparse and spindly with piano and flute and some typically Hannett touches making this anything but ordinary early 80s indie. There are loads more gems in their small back catalogue, including their only album which was produced by Peter Hook.

Fairy Tales

>Burnage’s Number One Band

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Stockholm Monsters came from Burnage, South Manchester and spent much of the 80s trying to make a success of being on Factory Records. They had all the benefits- Peter Hook as producer and cheer leader, Anthony H Wilson’s patronage, gigs with the other bands, some press coverage, beautiful sleeves. However as most Factory bands before ’87 found out, if you weren’t New Order you didn’t sell records, not outside the Greater Manchester postcode areas anyway. They started out fairly sparse sounding and post-punkish, trumpet and keyboards as well as guitars and driving drums, and eventually prefigured some of the Madchester sound with electronics and grooves, and a Perry Boy (Mancunian scallies essentially) image. They split in 1987 having been overtaken at Palatine Road and in the press by Happy Mondays. This song came out at the end, Partyline, and it’s flawed but worth your while. Produced by Hook, Partylive Mix from the 12″, Fac 146 in case you were wondering.

Partyline (Partylive Mix).mp3#1#1