Sketch For Dawn

Durutti Column have been running through my musical choices a lot in recent months. This song is a beauty. Perfect guitar playing, much of which doesn’t sound anything like ordinary guitar playing, with Vini’s fragile vocals and Bruce Mitchell’s understated drumming adding to the dreamlike quality. I don’t have the song as an mp3 on the hard rive right now and it’s getting late so here’s some Youtube videos. These two clips are interesting when compared. The first is from the remastered edition of the album LC, a little more focused and punchy than the original 1981 release

The original, below, has a burst of the Youtube uploader’s VHS static at eleven seconds and is much more subdued and atmospheric. The footage of Vini is pretty nice. LC was the second album following debut The Return Of The Durutti Column, self produced on a four track TEAC. The title LC is latin, Lotta Continua- continuous struggle, the struggle continues.

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.

So Many Crumbs And Monkeys

Over the lifetime of this blog I’ve written posts about five Durutti Column songs- Sketch For Summer, Sketch For Winter, Otis, The Missing Boy and The Together Mix- which coincidentally would be pretty close to my top five Durutti Column songs if I were asked to make a list. This song is proof though that Vini Reilly continued to write and record minor classics long after the collapse of Factory Records and well into the 21st century. The album Sunlight To Blue…Blue To Blackness came out in 2008 and is well worth tracking down. This is a beautiful little tune, the pitter patter of drums set against Vini’s unique guitar sound and softly sung vocals.

So Many Crumbs And Monkeys

Missing

Vini Reilly has had a rough time recently with health issues and major financial problems. One of his Durutti Column masterpieces LC is currently being re-released with twenty odd extra songs. LC is an lp I already own twice, once on vinyl and once in a 90s re-release version on cd. I don’t think I’ll buy it for a third time but if anyone from the Manchester scene deserves some cash to go with the talent it’s Vini, so maybe we should put our hands in our pockets. This song was written for the missing boy, Ian Curtis. New Order, ACR, Durutti Column and Tony Wilson were all around a pool somewhere in the US in the early 80s and Vini said to Tony ‘You know who’s missing don’t you?’ As well as Vini’s beautiful guitar this song features some very fragile Vini Reilly vocals..

The Missing Boy

LC stands for Lotta Continua- the struggle goes on.

The Seaside Town They Forgot To Close Down

Bagging Area loves The Smiths, from their first recorded note to the end of Strangeways, Here We Come. Except Golden Lights, no likes that. Bagging Area is somewhat choosier about Morrissey’s solo career, which has had more ups and downs than a two year old on a trampoline. The first few records were promising- Suedehead was a great ‘You can’t knock me down’ first single, Viva Hate had many good moments (Everyday Is Like Sunday particularly, Late Night Maudlin Street still hits me, a few others as well). The appearance and guitarwork of Vini Reilly and Viva Hate’s high points can’t be a coincidence. Last Of The International Playboys was a proper, Smithsy single that still sounds great today. After that we parted company me and Moz until a flirtation with Your Arsenal (mainly the ace glam stomp of Glamorous Glue)and then didn’t get back together again until his post 2000 rebirth with You Are The Quarry, the better Ringleader Of The Tormentors and then Years Of Refusal. There are individual solo songs I’ve heard and liked but I don’t own any other Morrissey solo lps apart from a best of.

Everyday Is Like Sunday is superb late 80s indie pop. A cracking tune and playing with a great lyric invoking the truly melancholic state of the English seaside town out-of-season. It also echoes Sir John Betjeman with his ‘come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’ line.

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Betjeman recorded much of his poetry including this, The Licorice Fields Of Pontefract, set to music in fine style. I’ve been looking for this on 7″ for years.

Wake Up

Some old Factory music for Thursday from Glasgow’s The Wake. It’s against some kind of internet law to type the words The Wake without mentioning that Bobby Gillespie was a member (leaving in 1983). The Wake signed to Factory after Rob Gretton heard them, recorded at Stockport’s Strawberry Studio (a Factory hangout), toured with New Order and released several singles and two albums through either Factory or Factory Benelux. Eventually they got fed up at Factory and left for Sarah Records splitting in the mid 90s. The Wake re-woke in 2009 and have an album scheduled for this year. There was a gig in Brussels in December 2009 with former Factory bands Section 25 and A Certain Ratio which sounds like the early 80s in a nutshell, but probably with fewer raincoats and less Situationism. This was a single in 1984, archetypal in it’s own way, and has Durutti Column man Vini Reilly on piano. Rather nice really.

Talk About The Past

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

Vini Reilly ‘The Together Mix’

On and off Factory Records Vini Reilly and his Durutti Column have created many wonderful records. This one, from 1990’s Obey the Time, sees Vini taking inspiration from the advances in club culture and technology going on around him, and obeying the time he created this, The Together Mix. It was worked on and remixed by Together, who went on to have a hit with Hardcore Uproar, one of whom died in a car crash in Ibiza. This is a lovely summery song, with Vini’s trademark use of melody coupled with summer of late 80s/early 90s dance record production. It’s a warm evening here and this fits perfectly.

The Together Mix.mp3

Durutti Column ‘Otis’

Factory Records was the greatest record label there was. You can chuck in Stax, Motown, Creation, Rough Trade and any others you like depending on taste, but none of them had what Factory had, and so much of Factory’s greatness was accidental, the right people in the same place at the same time- Anthony H Wilson, Martin Hannett, Rob Gretton and Joy Division, Peter Saville. It all ended it tears, financial collapse and heartbreak but then what did they expect? No contracts, 50-50 split, the artists own everything, a bottomless money-pit called The Hacienda. Art for art’s sake. On the label right from the start was Vini Reilly, making beautiful records. Initial copies of their first album, The Return Of The Durutti Column, came in sandpaper sleeve, designed so it would gradually destroy the rest of your record collection. Apparently Joy Division were paid to glue the sandpaper to the cardboard, Ian Curtis glueing and the other three sitting watching an adult video. Despite the sandpaper there was nothing wilfully destructive about the music. This track is from the later Vini Reilly album, and features the sampled vocals of Otis Redding (years before Moby had the same idea). Tony Wilson said, ‘with apologies to Steve Cropper, neither man has ever sounded better’. Durutti Column play the Lowry tonight, performing their Paean To Wilson. I wish I was going, but instead still have this to listen to.

02 Otis.wma