I mentioned a while back that I’d so thoroughly enjoyed my visit last year to the Use Hearing Protection exhibition, to the extent that I came away from it with a box set containing facsimile editions of the first 10 numbered Factory items. I also promised that I’d make a return to the contents of the box set for future postings. Today sees me begin the process.
FAC 1 is a poster. Here’s the opening para from the booklet in the box set.
The Russell Club was a West Indian nightclub on the fringe of the infamous Hulme Crescents, a bleak high rise development condemned as the worst social housing stock in Europe. In May 1978 Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus initiated their own Factory night to promote ‘the next music’ generally, and management proteges The Durutti Column in particular. Talented art student Peter Saville was paid £20 to design a poster, but delivered it only after the first of the initial four Factory nights had taken place.
All the activity at the Factory nights would lead to the establishment of the record label, and indeed, all that followed over many years. In due course, Wilson made the suggestion that the first record should carry the catalogue number of FAC 1, but Saville objected, arguing that the poster, although not originally designed with a catalogue number in mind, should be deemed as FAC 1. And so, by accident rather than design (pardon the pun), the Factory numbering system was born, which is why so many of the early artefacts were not vinyl records.
I’ll be turning my attention further to The Durutti Column, Cabaret Voltaire, The Tiller Boys and Joy Division in coming features. Both Big in Japan and Jilted John have been on the blog before, so it seems appropriate to feature the other band who were part of the line-up at those four initial gigs.
Here’s a bio, courtesy of a post in October 2006 on the now defunct blog, Lost Bands of the New Wave Era:-
Manchester, England’s Manicured Noise formed in 1978, but the very early days of the band remain a mystery. Given their name by prime Manchester scenester Linder, the group peddled a form of spiky and angular jazz/punk. Jeff Noon, acclaimed sci-fi, cyberpunk writer (“Vurt”, “Nymphomation”) was an early member of the group, adding to the group’s retro-futurist edge. Inspired by Television, Talking Heads, August Darnell‘s Machine, French Soundtracks and Disco Chic along with a nod to Northern Soul and Moroder, the band cut a singular groove. Early hours inspiration from 70’s cop and Kung-Fu soundtracks were incorporated, a good 10 years or more before Massive Attack and Portishead did the same. In doing so, Manicured Noise created a sound that’s still difficult to pin down.
Guitarist and later period frontman Steven Walsh was an ex member of the Flowers of Romance, pre-Pistols vehicle for Sid Vicious, and various members of the Slits and Banshees. Steven brought an experimental and funky ethos to the band.
“Faith” (Pre/Charisma, 1980) was acclaimed on release, its Northern backbeat acknowledging the Manchester debt. A BBC session followed. Then, nothing. As Steven Walsh suggests: “Had we stayed together that little bit longer, who knows what might have been?”
It turns out there were two singles released on Pre Records back in 1980, and I’ve managed to track down both of them:-
None of it is ground-breaking, but I reckon it’s all worth a few minutes of your time.
Next up in the series will be the first vinyl issued by Factory.