AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #151 : FACTORY RECORDS

As mentioned in the day before yesterday’s posting on The Railway Children, I’d forgotten the fact that they were, for a short time, on Factory Records. In finishing off the post and referring to a possible ICA from any fans of the band out there, it hit me that a label-based ICA could be a good idea, and indeed would be open to a number of volumes from guests.

In going about the task, I decided that the rules would have to be no Joy Division/New Order/Electronic/Happy Mondays or singles that were well-known hits back in the day. I also decided that there shouldn’t be more than one song by a particular singer or band. So with all that in mind, here’s my stab at a Factory Records ICA:-

SIDE A

1. Section 25 – Looking From A Hilltop (Restructure) (FAC 108)

Section 25, consisting of brothers Larry and Vincent Cassidy, signed to Factory in 1981. They didn’t, initially, seem to have anything that made them really stand out from the crowd and seemed to fit in with the doom & gloom raincoat wearing brigade that were so attracted to the label (Incidentally, I include myself in that put-down).

In 1984 they underwent a seismic transformation for their third album From The Hip. They added Jenny Ross (who was in fact Mrs Larry Cassidy) on vocals and keyboards and, with the help of Bernard Sumner in the producer’s chair, moved to a more pop/electro sound. One of the LPs most enduring tracks was Life From A Hilltop which was, in due course given a bit of a remix and released as a single which subsequently turned into a much deserved underground club hit. Still sounds great all these years later.

2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity (FAC 6)

The first single by OMD and less polished that the later re-recorded and better-known versions for DinDisc.

The story goes that following a successful debut gig at Eric’s in Liverpool, at which they supported Joy Division, the duo sent off a tape of their demo to Tony Wilson in the hope of having it released on Factory. The boss wasn’t that keen on it, but his wife, Lindsay Reade, thought Electricity sounded good and so he decided to release it on a one-off basis with it becoming just the third piece of vinyl to be issued by the label, with 5,000 copies pressed up. It received a fair bit of critical praise and although it didn’t chart, set the duo up for a multi-album deal and the initial steps along the road to fame and fortune. How different might have the Factory story turned out if OMD had been offered and signed a long-term deal with the label…..

3. Cath Carrol – England Made Me (album track from FACT 210)

Cath Carrol had long been part of the wider Manchester scene before ending up on Factory Records. Her career in music began in 1979 as one of the mainstays behind the fanzine City Fun, while at the same time she was part of the band Glass Animals. She was initially more successful as a writer, ending up on the staff of NME, although her mid-80s band Miaow did enjoy a bit of success on the indie-circuit.

There were a number of years and different locations utilised for the solo album England Made Me and the expense involved is often cited as one of the factors behind the financial demise of Factory Records. Whatever hopes everyone had were never realised and despite a reasonably warm critical response to the bossa nova/dance sound that dominated the LP, it bombed in the shops. I’m not arguing that any this track is among the label’s finest moments, but it does fits well on this particular ICA at this point.

4. Revenge – I’m Not Your Slave (FAC 279)

Revenge was the name that Peter Hook took for his band when he issued his solo material in the wake of the decision by Bernard Sumner to put New Order to the side. A much-derided project at the time, particularly in comparison to what Sumner was achieving with Electronic, much of the material hasn’t aged all that well, although I remain fond of this particular single.

5. Stockholm Monsters – National Pastime (FAC 107)

Finishing this side off with the b-side to a single. Stockholm Monsters weren’t, it seems to me, taken that seriously by anyone outside of Factory – the fact they had a stupid name for a band didn’t help matters; still, it could be worse, they could have called themselves Crispy Ambulance.

This was actually a late addition to the ICA…it’s a song I’ve known since its 1984 release as it was played a lot by one of my flatmates who declared it a bonafide classic.  He even managed to persuade the student union DJ to air it a few times on the ‘alternative disco’ Thursday nights.  I’ve never owned a copy of the single and it is an expensive one on the second hand market, but a couple of week back Swiss Adam featured it over in the Bagging Area and I nicked it from there when he wasn’t looking!  Feels right to let him say a few words…

Opening with clattering drums and a low slung bass, then 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.

Indeed.

SIDE B

1. Durutti Column – Requiem For A Father (album track from FACT 14)

This ICA just has to include Durutti Column, an act every bit as important to the Factory story as any other . It was, of course, for the most part a solo project for Vini Reilly whose approach to writing and recording has always been idiosyncratic and, consequently, a tad on the inconsistent side.

I’m not his biggest fan and don’t actually have that much in the collection, relying on the recommendations from other blogs as well as this guest ICA to broaden my horizons. I’ve gone back to the debut album, The Return of the Durutti Column, released in 1980 and which was a genuine band effort featuring Pete Crooks on bass and Toby Toman on drums. It is a track reminiscent in places of Young Marble Giants.

2. A Certain Ratio – Do The Du (Peel Session) (from FACT 16)

Another band that has been the subject of an ICA – and more than once thanks to Echorich and Swiss Adam, two of the finest and most knowledgable writers out there. Click here and here for reminders. A Certain Ratio were an act that I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to back in the day, something which I now regret as I’ve come to realise, with the benefit of hindsight, that I missed out on something very decent.

Do The Du was the opening song on Side A of The Graveyard and The Ballroom, their first release on Factory in February 1980. It was a cassette release with Side A – The Graveyard – being 7 recordings in a studio of that name and Side B – The Ballroom – being 7 recordings live at the Electric Ballroom.

3. The Wake – Of The Matter (FAC 113)

As I said when I featured The Wake on this blog back in December 2014, they were a Scottish act whom I saw a few times back in the day as support to New Order. The Wake were the first band that Bobby Gillespie was part of, and although he had long departed by the time this single was released in 1985, it is one that has a twee-like sound not unlike early Primal Scream.

4. The Adventure Babies – Camper Van (FACD 319)

A single from 1991. It is followed in the Factory discography by FACT 320 which is the number given to Pills’n’Thrills and Bellyaches by Happy Mondays, the album that really launched them into the stratosphere.

The Adventure Babies turned out to be the final band ever signed by Factory before the label suffered the bankruptcy. This was the lead track from their debut EP, released in 1991, and it is as far removed from a ‘Factory-type’ song as can be imagined. I really liked it at when it was released and bought it on 12″ vinyl, but time hasn’t been that kind to it.

5. Steve and Gillian – Loved It (FACD 251)

This side opened with an instrumental and so I thought it would make sense to end it with something similar.

FACD 251 was a one-track CD pressed to commemorate the opening of the new Factory Headquarters in 1990. Loved It was recorded at the home studio of Steve Morris and Gillian Gilbert and the samples are from the Channel 4 ‘New Order Play At Home’ documentary. The track was later re-released in October 1993 on the album The Other Two And You which came out on London Records.

So there you have it. A real mixed-bag of things, rather like the label itself.  Hopefully, there’s something for everyone. Oh, and if any of the above stated info is wrong, it is entirely in keeping with the label’s philosophy of printing the myth rather than the truth….

JC

PS : FAC 51 was The Hacienda.  This is ICA 151 which closes with FACD 251.  FAC 151 was interesting.

14 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #151 : FACTORY RECORDS

  1. Breathtaking! THIS is my car playlist for tomorrow, and the rest of this week! Glad someone else, has some sort of fondness, for something by…Revenge…

  2. This is so fun! Even though I’m a Sarah man, I like the Wake on Factory more than their later work on that label. Actually, a little Crispy Ambulance on here would have been OK by me. I missed out on A Certain Ratio too, but our pals Adam and Echorich have really helped steer us in the right direction.

  3. I had the same compilation theme in mind (different tracklist) but didn’t get round to writing it. Good choices JC (although I can live without the Adventure Babies)

  4. A fascinating selection JC. I’m looking forward to checking out a couple of the tunes that I’m not so familiar with a bit later. Does Factory Benelux count? If so, I would’ve had to have included ‘The Presence’ by Crispy Ambulance. An absolute masterpiece.

  5. Brilliant stuff, and the first of many similar record label ICAs (I hope!). Great Section 25 track to kick off with, a fave of mine (barring JD/NO/HMs). I was listening to Stockholm Monsters at the weekend during a songs by bands beginning with the letter ‘S’ session in the car with my lad, Party Line 12″ Version best farewell song ever! Reminds me, must get back to compiling my YouTube play list of all FAC numbers.

  6. Very enjoyable – made me wish that my Palatine box set was on a medium other than cassette. It was a prize in a record shop monthly draw no less – long story, may have to tell it some time. Mind you, I’ve got most tracks on mp3 anyway, so I could do a playlist – add to Projects list….

  7. Nice!
    Always good to listen to Durutti Column – something I always forget to do.
    The Return Of … is a marvellous album, and I may go and have to listen to it now.

    Personally (and as this isn’t my compilation, my opinion doesn’t count) I’d have tried to squeeze in Cabaret Voltaire – Baader Meinhof (A Factory Sample FAC2)

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