Regular readers will know that I’m offering up a short series dealing with the contents of the Use Hearing Protection box set.

FAC7 is a peculiar one given it was the catalogue number allocated to some stationary.  But this wasn’t just any old ordinary stationary, given that it was designed by Peter Saville.

It seems that, having gone through the rigmarole of actually releasing some records, Tony Wilson & co. decided that it would make some sense to print up some paper and envelopes to be used when issuing official correspondence.  Where most fledgling companies would likely have picked something cheap’n’cheerful from some sort of catalogue, Factory Records called on the services of its in-house designer who came up with headed paper and envelopes.   The box set did include some replicas of the envelopes (as pictured above), presumably on the basis that these did have FAC7 printed on them, but not any replicas of the official note paper, whose letterhead looked like this:-


I had to scratch my head a bit to come up with a suitable piece of music for today.  Having decided that it would need to be from the Factory Records catalogue, the little lightbulb above my head lit up.

mp3: Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck (Dance Mix)
mp3: Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck (Radio Mix)
mp3: Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck (Club Mix)
mp3: Happy Mondays – Boom

The four tracks from the 12″ version of FAC212, released in October 1988 to huge indifference.  It was a different story less than a year down the line.


The mp3s today are provided today at a slightly higher level than normal, simply for the fact they deserve to be.  Play loud (and please excuse the click which crops up the very second the Dance Mix comes to a halt).



A 1991 Manchester Musical Special : H is for Happy Mondays and J is for James

Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro (Factory Records, 1991)
James – How Was It For You (Fontana Records, 1991)

In January 1991 the British Music Industry decided to curate three evenings of live music at Wembley Arena. The evenings were called the Great British Music Weekend and they were designed to showcase the cream of British musical talent. The first two days were dedicated to indie guitars and at the time the line ups were incredible. Thousands of people tried to get tickets, thousands of people failed to get tickets. Me being one of them. I remember Dubstar Chris phoning me at home and telling me that he was going to get tickets and then him phoning the next day and telling me that it had sold out (and it had). Those who couldn’t get tickets, had to make do with the shows being streamed live on Radio 1 FM (as it was called back then).

Day One was the indie dance evening. It was headlined by the emerging champions of the scene, the Happy Mondays, also on the bill were James, The Farm, Northside, Beats International, 808 State and a band called Candyland who were, rumour had it, playing their first ever gig after being personally recommended by Paul Weller. Candyland I think were the only band on the bill who didn’t come from a town or city north of Watford.

If I had got tickets it would have been my first ever concert and I think at the time I would have loved it what with it featuring bands that I was growing to love, bands like James, 808 State and the Happy Mondays. However, I remember the radio broadcast being disappointing – the concerts turned out to be a series of mini gigs with the bands playing for around 15 minutes each and the headliners being pushed to a full 25 minutes.

James (who were second on the bill) I remember played three songs (Stutter, Johnny Yen and Sit Down) and despite the short set the NME called it a ‘triumph’ and stating (correctly) that ‘fairly soon James will be massive’. Indeed in seven months they would be headlining the Reading Festival.

The Mondays were allowed, as headliners to stretch out a bit – and got to play five songs- the first three were ‘Donovan’, ‘Step On’ and ‘Kinky Afro’ and they ended with ‘WFL’ I forget what the fourth one was.

The two records were nestled together in Badgers Box, the James single is an immaculate grey sleeved 12” with ‘James’ printed on the sleeve in a dark blue colour – it has a daisy over the top of the ‘J’ and inside it is a James stencil – so you can spray paint their logo all over the place. I don’t know if this is a standard release or not but the stencil in Badgers record has barely been touched by the look of it. The Mondays one is the standard ‘Kinky Afro’ 12”.

There were a couple of other Mondays records in the box the best of them being this

‘Hallelujah’ (Taken from a 12” version of ‘Madchester Rave On’ EP) –

which is shame because it doesn’t contain the ‘McColl Mix, which I love to bits.
There was a couple of other James records as well – The Green 12” of ‘Come Home’ and a really really battered version of this

What For

I is For Inspiral Carpets

Inspiral Carpets – Find Out Why (Mute Records Taken from ‘Cool As Fuck EP’, 1990)

1991 was also the year in which I went to my first proper music festival. It was the Slough Festival and tickets were if I recall it correctly a bargain at £6. We had decided to go to this one as a warm up for the big one around the corner in Reading. The line-up was very shoegaze heavy with Ride headlining ably supported by bands such as Curve, Slowdive and Chapterhouse. It kind of blew my mind a little bit. It was about six weeks after my 16th birthday and suddenly I was surrounded by thousands of people who liked the same music as I did.

It was around four pm that Dubstar Chris had gone off to buy some chips, and as he looked older than I did, some beer. I decided to stay in the arena and watch what was left of local heroes Thousand Yard Stare’s set. It was at about ten past four that I fell in love with a girl who I never spoke to and whose name I never knew. I say love, it probably, definitely, wasn’t that on reflection, but there I sat for the next twenty five minutes or so just kind of gazing at her.

She was wearing a Cool as Fuck T Shirt, cut off denim shorts and Converse Trainers and I thought she was incredible. She was about twenty metres away from me and I sat there thinking up ways to strike up a conversation with her. All of them were useless because I never did. I willed her friend (Revolver Tshirt, Mani Hat) to get up and wander off to get chips like Chris had done but nope she stayed perfectly still next to her. It wouldn’t have mattered because I still wouldn’t have gone and spoke to her.

At one point I sort of shuffled our stuff a little bit closer to Cool as Fuck Girl (sounds wrong typing that) and her mate and saw her smiling at me. Well smiling in my direction, she might of course been squinting as the sun was in her eyes – that I decided was enough and I stood up, took a deep breath, and took one step and then I heard Chris call my name as he had returned with the food and somehow, four pints of liberally watered down beer.

So I sat back down again. What I should have done is taken two of the pints over to Cool as Fuck Girl (still wrong) and her Revolver Tshirt wearing friend and introduced myself, but when I spun around two minutes later ready to suggest this idea to Chris, they had gone. Never to be seen again.

When I was a kid the ‘Cool as Fuck’ EP was like some sort of indie Holy Grail. It was famous for being as rare as rocking horse shit, yet everyone knew someone who had a copy. I’m pretty sure the Inspiral Carpets sold more Cool As Fuck T Shirts than they did copies of the EP ( a bit like James, who famously sold way more TShirts than they did records for the first eight or nine years of their careers) Of course there were cassette copies of it around, badly recorded ones that themselves were copies of copies.

Badgers copy is in mint condition and tucked right behind it was another fairly rare early Inspirals 12”

Inspiral Carpets – Butterfly – Taken from ‘Trainsurfing EP’ (1989, Cow Records)



Album: Bummed – Happy Mondays
Review: Guardian, 14 December 2007
Author: Alex Petrides

Earlier this year, what’s left of Happy Mondays dutifully went on the road in support of a new album that limped to No 73 in the charts. Shaun Ryder sang the hits slumped on the drum riser, a man doomed to spend the rest of his days on the touring treadmill by the kind of business deals that people on too many drugs tend to make, his glory years a distant memory.

Listening to this expanded reissue of their breakthrough album, it seems remarkable that Happy Mondays had any glory years to start with, at least commercially. Almost 20 years on, Bummed sounds extraordinary, but wildly abstruse. If you were making a list of Happy Mondays’ inspirations, you would start with the clattering, syncopated drums and wayward vocals of Tago Mago-era Can, and the phantasmagorical, chemically altered view of northern working-class life found in the Fall‘s lyrics – to which Ryder added his own distinctive spin, not least an unerring ability to make sexual intercourse sound like the most repellent activity known to man. “Come on in, grease up yer skin, bring a friend,” he leers at one juncture.

Elsewhere, you can hear the damaged sprawl of early 70s Funkadelic, Captain Beefheart‘s angular riffs and jarring slide guitars and, buried deep in the mix, the gauche synthesised stabs of early house music. It’s a bizarre stew of influences that would normally have confined a band to a netherworld of Peel Sessions and tiny gigs. Happy Mondays ended up playing stadiums and Top of the Pops.

That they did may have been testament not merely to the quality of their songs, but to the anything-goes musical climate ushered in by ecstasy use: the album was recorded with the E-fuelled “second summer of love” in full swing. But if Bummed benefited from the summer of love’s open-mindedness, it certainly didn’t share its flower-power idealism.

The album is haunted by Nic Roeg‘s Performance, a film that caught the hippy dream curdling into a crepuscular world of violence and insanity. It’s not even Mick Jagger‘s faded rock star character Turner that the album identifies with, but the psychopathic gangsters who invade his home and murder him: Mad Cyril is named after one of them and samples their boss Harry Flowers, while the track Performance seems to be written through the eyes of Chas, the enforcer played by James Fox, whose psychedelic dabbling doesn’t stem his propensity for violence.

For a band usually depicted as troglodytes rendered mentally subnormal by their drug intake – perhaps a consequence of having a keyboard player called Knobhead – this seems a remarkably sharp and cynical take on the prevalent mood of saucer-eyed euphoria. Perhaps, having made his living dealing ecstasy, Ryder had a rather clearer idea of precisely what lurked further up the chain of supply than, say, the beatific denizens of London acid house club Shoom, who ended their evenings with an unironic singalong to Give Peace a Chance.

The album’s sound perfectly complements the mood. Befitting a man with a reputation as the Phil Spector of Manchester, producer Martin Hannett saturated Bummed in reverb and echo; as with Spector’s wall-of-sound productions, it’s almost impossible to make individual instruments out amid the dense swirl. The sound and the sessions that produced it were the result of the copious intake of ecstasy: Ryder later claimed that supplying the alcoholic producer with the drug was the simplest way to stop him drinking. What it captures, however, is not the hug-a-stranger euphoria of the perfect E experience, but the queasy, disorientating claustrophobia of overindulgence. Coupled with the ever-present sense of menace in the lyrics, it makes for an uneasy, but utterly gripping listen.

Among the extra tracks lurks the baffling Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer) a reworking of Bummed’s closing track featuring yodelling cabaret artist Karl Denver. The combination of his vibrato-heavy club-singer voice and Ryder’s hoarse bark makes for what you might politely call a deeply challenging listen. Those looking for evidence of Factory Records‘ celebrated maverick spirit might note that someone at the label thought this would make a good single.

Then again, the single that finally took Happy Mondays on to Top of the Pops is scarcely more radio-friendly, offering two and a half minutes of thundering Can-inspired drums and squealing guitars, a lead vocal that borders on a hoarse, desperate scream, and a variety of thumpingly unsubtle references to heroin in the lyrics. It’s a miracle that the BBC allowed Hallelujah, and the band who made it, past reception.

What happened when Happy Mondays reached the top was impossibly depressing: hard drugs, homophobia, inexorable decline. But, as Bummed proves in all its dark, weirdly prescient glory, the way they got there was unique and strangely magnificent.

JC adds…….

Alexis Petridis has long been a reviewer I’ve admired, not just for his fine taste in music but for the way he writes things up.  Bummed wasn’t ecstatically received at the time of its initial release, with far too many in the UK music press keen to sneer at the Happy Mondays and indeed the direction in which Factory Records was heading back in 1988.  It wouldn’t take that much longer, however, before everyone was proclaiming Madchester as being the greatest thing since the last musical ‘movement’ to get folk awfully excited.

mp3: Happy Mondays – Mad Cyril
mp3: Happy Mondays – Performance
mp3: Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck
mp3: Happy Mondays – Lazy Itis

FAC 272

Blue Monday is probably the best-known of all the songs ever released on Factory Records. Love Will Tear Us Apart might have a counter-claim on that statement and it could well be a photo-finish at the line. I reckon the Happy Mondays take on a John Kongos song from 1970 would be the other track on the 1-2-3 podium.

I’ve featured the song before, posting the album version. I’ve been doing a bit of Discogs shopping in recent weeks, picking up a few bits’n’bobs to complete some holes in the vinyl collection that will enable a few more posts to be worked up over the next few weeks. As ever, many of the sellers offer combined postage rates when you add a few more bits of desired rather than essential vinyl, which is why I came to pick up a copy of the 12″ version of FAC272, with its two very enjoyable extended mixes:-

mp3: Happy Mondays – Step On (Stuff It In Mix) (5:53)
mp3: Happy Mondays – Step On (One Louder Mix) (6:03)

It’s a song in which over-familiarity and too much radio exposure hasn’t spoiled it for me.



I would have been just short of my 8th birthday when South-African musician John Kongos took He’s Gonna Step On You Again into the UK charts in May 1971. I can honestly say that I have no recollection of the record whatsoever and therefore had no idea, until reading about it at the time back in 1991, that Happy Mondays latest single Step On  was a cover.

The two songs are really quite dissimilar and I don’t think may would argue that the Happy Mondays greatly improved on the original. I think the big difference is that the original really does sound of its time while the cover has become genuinely timeless – it does help of course that the production advances over the two decades between them meant that loveable Mancunians could do so much more with the tune but it still doesn’t detract from the fact that they derived a classic.

And yet, the original outperformed the cover – John Kongos got as high as #4 while Happy Mondays stalled at #5 – and it’s likely in pure sales terms that the original did better. What I didn’t know until doing a wee bit of research for this piece is He’s Gonna Step On You Again, according to wiki, is cited in the Guinness Book of Records as being the first song to have used a sample which just goes to show how long that’s been around contrary to popular belief. Having said that, a much later CD reissue of the parent album states it wasn’t a sample but a tape loop of African drumming and so debunked the alleged first.

Also worth mentioning that the Happy Mondays version actually sampled three guitar notes from the original as can be heard easily when you listen to both versions:-

mp3 : John Kongos – He’s Gonna Step On You Again
mp3 : Happy Mondays – Step On




(A shorter version of this originally appeared back on 26 December 2011)

The day after Christmas can sometimes be a bit of an anti-climax. I hope it is not the case with you dear readers.

The folk I feel sorry for are those in the retail sector.  They probably finished at 6pm on Christmas Eve after about three or four weeks in a row without a day off during which time they dealt with customers who were clueless and often rude.  I certainly saw some supermarket check-out staff get a mouthful of abuse because the shop had the temerity to have run out of some foodstuffs and those who left it till the last-minute were disappointed and in some cases angry.

Today, many of those hard-pressed workers will have had to go to their place of employment at stupid o’clock to get their shops and stores ready for those who still think that the best bargains in retail world are to be had on 26 December and so they queue up for hours, often in the miserable cold and wet, and then have a mad dash inside when the doors open.

I guarantee there will be footage on the news later on.

Over here, 26th December is referred to as Boxing Day. Thought I’d find a track with a very tenuous link to the theme of boxing for. It was one of three on a belter of a CD single from 1990:-

mp3 : Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck (Vince Clarke mix)
mp3 : Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck (Paul Oakenfold Mix)
mp3 : Happy Mondays and Karl Denver – Lazyitis – one armed boxer




I make no apologies (again) for going into the archives over at the old blog for today’s piece.  It was one I stumbled across when searching for Dick Van Dyke’s adventures that were recounted just the other week.  This is from another of my old Sunday Correspondents gang who goes by the name of Cullen Skink.  He didn’t half select some banging tunes……….

If there’s a city outside Scotland whose impact is recurrently felt on The Vinyl Villain, it must be Manchester with its Magazine, Morrissey, New Order

I lived there as a student in the late 80s and early 90s, a period when Manchester gained its reputation for being the centre of the music world.

I was certainly enthralled by the musical heritage. My all-time favourite bands were Buzzcocks and The Fall. Joy Division/New Order too – though I eschewed The Smiths. And I was intoxicated by the contemporary scene: a huge Happy Mondays fan, I followed the Inspiral Carpets for a while, though wasn’t arsed about the Stone Roses

But you can hear all those bands any time, so here are some others that I loved around that time – bands that deserve to be glorified not forgotten. As behoves a VV Sunday Correspondent, let me turn once more to ye olde vinyl…

The Bodines made glorious, glimmering pop music, the pinnacle of 80s indie before syncopated funky-drummer beats took over. There’s a good case to be made for Therese (1987) as the greatest single ever. Certainly it should be on heavy rotation on all music radio.

mp3 : The Bodines – Therese

Laugh‘s funky swagger jumps out of this fantastic single from 1988. It drags you onto the dancefloor and shouts in your ear. They missed the Madchester bus, until they regrouped in time for the second wave as Intastella.

mp3 : Laugh – Time To Lose It

A forgotten music of the time is that loose agglomeration of ugly noiseniks that pointed sharpened sticks at earnest ears. I thought Dub Sex were Manchester’s best, though I wonder if anybody else did…

mp3 : Dub Sex – Swerve

As the Madchester phenomenon peaked, bands were chewed up and spat out as the media trendsetters moved on – to grunge or whatever the next big thing was. But of these second-wave bands, the New Fast Automatic Daffodils meant the world to me, and Big might be my most loved record of the time. As far as I was concerned it was indie-dance crossover on a par with Loaded or Fools Gold.

mp3 : New Fast Automatic Daffodils – Big

To my eternal chagrin I never saw The World Of Twist, though their concerts have become the stuff of legend. I just never imagined it’d be over so quickly – a couple of miraculous singles, a disappointing album, then nothing (and their frontman Tony Ogden died far too young in 2006).

mp3 : World Of Twist – Sons Of The Stage

Oh and while I’m in this mood, we’d better have some Mondays after all…

mp3 : Happy Mondays – Freaky Dancin’ (live)

Don’t sit down……

Cullen Skink, Sunday 25th April 2010



From July 2008


Tony Wilson once made the claim that Shaun Ryder was a better poet than William Butler Yeats, and that in the fullness of time, he’d come to be regarded every much as talented a genius as Mozart.

I’m sure my dear friend Greer, who, in addition to making fabulous weekly contributions to the Contrast Podcast, writes an equally fabulous poetry blog called A Sweet Unrest, would be horrified at such a comparison, but I do suspect Tony’s tongue, and not for the first time, was parked right into his cheek.

Having said that, the opening four lines to Kinky Afro, in which a dad directly addresses his young offspring, are as good as any representation of misogynist and unreconstructed man I’ve ever read in my life:-

Son, I’m 30
I only went with your mother cos she’s dirty
And I don’t have a decent bone in me
What you get is just what you see, yeah.

And as much as I love Kinky Afro, not just for the lyrics but the catchy tune that immediately makes me want to get off my backside and dance, there is no better Happy Mondays song than the opening track to their 1989 LP, Bummed:-

mp3 : Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck

A truly astonishing bit of music, and the only thing that stopped it making the 45 45s at 45 rundown the other month was that I missed out on it when it originally appeared as a single. I only heard it a couple of months afterwards courtesy of it being included on a compilation tape made up for me by my old friend Jacques the Kipper (older readers might remember that JtK often left comments in the early days of TVV…he’s now too busy being a modern dad to stop by and say hi…..)

But having missed out first time around, I made sure I picked up the single when it was given the remix treatment and re-released a few months later. And as much as I love the original, produced to perfection by Martin Hannett, there are days when I prefer one or other of these mixes:-

mp3 : Happy Mondays – W.F.L. (the Vince Clarke Mix)
mp3 : Happy Mondays – W.F.L. (Think About The Future)

Vince Clarke is of course, the electro-pop superstar who had made the Top 10 with four different acts – Depeche Mode, The Assembly, Yazoo and Erasure – as well as releasing a single with the mighty Paul Quinn.

Think About The Future was a mix made by an up and coming DJ and mixer called Paul Oakenfold, who went on to become one of the biggest phenomena of the 90s – maybe ctelblog at Acid Ted can fill us all in properly….

Anyways, the inspiration for this posting is merely that on the train to work yesterday morning, feeling a bit low as I was going to be stuck indoors on one of the few warm and dry days we’ve had in Glasgow this past month or so, the original version of Wrote For Luck came round on shuffle on the i-pod.

Instant happiness without the need to ingest drugs or alcohol.

Oh and I got up from my seat, stood near the exit door and did a little dance (in my head it was a big dance – all Bez moves and shapes – but in reality I only sort of moved my head from side to side and tried hard not to sing along in case I scared the passengers).

Maybe Tony was slightly wrong about Shaun’s poetic abilities, but alongside his brother and his mates in the band, you can’t argue against the claim that he was one helluva songwriter…..

2013 Update

Shaun Ryder has since come to the attention of a much wider audience thanks to his exploits in the 2010 TV reality series ‘I’m A Celebrity….Get Me Out Of Here!’.  His autobiography. Twisting My Melon, was the published to great critical acclaim in 2011, acclaim that was entirely justified.

mp3 : Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro




In November 1988, FAC 220 was unveiled to the world and just about every review in the UK weeklies and monthlies panned it.  Fourteen months later, it was high-up on all the lists of ‘Best Album of the 80s’ in the same publications….a classic example of why you should make your own mind up about music and not just go with what’s being written or said by the influential commentators.

It’s no real surprise though that Bummed got such a poor reception and not just because it was quite different from anything else which had come beforehand and there weren’t many reference points to go by.  There was a bit of a backlash at the time against Factory Records and some were getting fed up of with the never-ending proclamations from Tony Wilson. So when he said that Shaun Ryder was a poet who deserved to be looked upon in the same light as Keats and that Happy Mondays, along with a number of other Manchester bands, were making something distinctive and history-making that would see a perfect marriage of club and indie music, those in the media, particularly in London, just sneered.

I’m not going to make any huge claims on Bummed being one of the best records ever – after all it didn’t find its way into the recent Top 50 albums rundown over at TVV – but there are some songs on it which remain staggeringly brilliant more than a quarter of a century on.  Particularly this:-

mp3 : Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck

Years after helping to make stars of Joy Division and New Order, the production genius of Martin Hannett comes to the fore as he throws the kitchen sink at the songs and proves that sometimes the drugs do work….and yet it was a couple of cleaner, less murky remixes which gave birth to Madchester as prophesied by Tony Wilson:-

mp3 : Happy Mondays – W.F.L. (the Vince Clark Mix)

mp3 : Happy Mondays – W.F.L. – Think About The Future (the Paul Oakenfold Mix)

As available on the single FACD 232.

Club classics both of them to go alongside the original version which surely has a place on every indie-disco playlist.